When unified criticism of Tuesday’s article “Durham crime crosses over” began flowing in, I felt blindsided. And that, I think, is the problem.
In planning, reporting and editing the story, we simply had no idea what we were getting into. So many online responses said the story played into the stereotype that Durham is a scary place that UNC students should avoid. This stereotype played no part in the story’s creation. And our ignorance of it has caused many readers to believe we have embraced it.
This is not an excuse. As journalists, we should have ensured that no angle was left unaddressed, especially on an issue of such importance. We didn’t do that, and that was wrong. And this wasn’t the work of one person. I and several other members of the staff oversaw its production.
Anyone hoping to make the case that we were bent on making a harmful generalization about Durham can find ammunition. The sentence pointing out that there are no fences or checkpoints between Chapel Hill and Durham is clumsy, puzzling and unnecessary. But it is not a proposal.
The juxtaposition of a focus on crime trends with the murder of Eve Carson certainly should have been executed more carefully.