We've been watching as the international automotive press has descended on Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. Usually, we're watching for those low blows: Those drive-by reports hitting some of Detroit's most devastated neighborhoods, done for no other reason than to make sport of the plight of the city.
Gladly, we haven't seen such mean-spirited pieces. Certainly, the city has done what it can to remove any obvious signs of poverty, such as a tent city that was induced to relocate last week
. Frankly, that's something that happens in any city about to be exposed to the glare of the international spotlight, thanks to such events as the Super Bowl or the Olympics. (Though we hope the tent city residents actually are getting help, as opposed to the usual run-around many indigent Detroiters get.)
There's also another kind of disservice writers can do to Detroit, which is to simply join the chorus of well-meaning voices declaring without qualification that Detroit is back. We've seen a bit of that recently, and it's absurd and unhelpful. To declare of the Murder Capital of the United States that the homicide rate is the lowest since 1967 (it isn't). Or to allege that, since the bankruptcy, Detroit's streetlights are now all on. (A simple drive down any thoroughfare away from downtown will often prove otherwise.) Or to announce that Detroit is free from financial oversight, or that the city is a "food oasis," or any number of nice but untrue things.
Probably the best piece about the city surrounding the auto show came from no international scribe so much as a local yokel, Rod Meloni of WDIV. His piece is fair
, although there's a certain comedy to a local newsman approaching visiting journalists and trying to grill them on something they don't know jack about.
Maybe it's a function of just how impressive this year's car show is supposed to be. We hear it's a doozy. Or maybe editors around the world don't feel up for pot shots, or just don't want the headache of dealing with Detroit journalists complaining about unfair coverage. But it seems like this year's press corp are being gentle and fair.
It ain't over, of course, until it's over.