Thursday, September 23, 2010

David Harris Explores the Merrill Hood in Flint

David Harris of The Flint Journal wrote an excellent article on Sunday about what's come to be known as the "Merrill Hood" — the area along Pasadena Avenue between Dupont and Clio that he labels "Flint's most dangerous neighborhood."
"It’s where a pizza delivery man was shot and killed in a robbery earlier this year. And where children as young as 10 see all the violence as no big deal, because, well, it happens so often they’re immune to it." Harris writes. "Here, even the neighborhood church locks its doors during the day when people are inside."

It's a story that profiles the people dealing with crime in one Flint's blighted areas rather than simply relying on labels, stereotypes and statistics. I'll echo one of the comments on mlive: it's one of the best things I've seen in the Journal in a long time.
It also presents a welcome contrast to the short Police blotter items the Journal seems so fond of running. Devoid of context, these little items do little to inform or educate readers. In an era of layoffs and budget cuts at newspapers, it would be great to see reporters like Harris freed up to do more in-depth work like his portrait of the Merrill Hood instead of chasing down crime snippets.

It's really worth reading the whole story


  1. While I read the article, a piece of fiction I read 20 years ago popped into my head, called 'Way Past Cool', it chronicled some (what seemed to me) impossibly street savvy little kids living in a ravaged section of Oakland (I think). I remember, at the time, thinking that at least things haven gotten to that point in Flint. But those kids struck me as so similar to the fictional ones.

    Ironically, I now live on a 'Pasadena Ave', but 800 odd miles, or a whole universe - depeding on how you look at it, away from this one.

  2. Not to be picky... because I'm sure there'll be some other bozo who will point this out... but can't MLive hire a proofreader or an editor of some kind... there were at least 3 times I had to re-read stuff to figure out what the typo was. And I don't claim to be the best writer (or reader) either, but then again, I'm not a reporter who is paid to write (and maybe I need a new prescription).

    Great content... it's just the other things distracted from it, and it lowers the bar of the standards I set for writers if I think I could have written it.

  3. Jim, that's a novel by Jess Mowry:

    And I'm with you, grumkin. My typos on the blog are frequent and often embarrassing, but what do you expect from a blog with no editors written by a reporter whose never been the greatest copy editor. The Journal doesn't have that excuse. It's rife with typos and mistakes, no doubt another result of budget cuts. It's got to be frustrating to put so much effort into a story, only to see mistakes because the paper doesn't have a fully functioning editing system.

  4. In fact, I see a typo in my comment already.

  5. I wouldn't mince words with one or two typos... (and I didn't see your typo anyways... I'm really not crazy about this), but I actually checked and there were six in this MLive article... and I usually let it slide, but I expect more from the Journal, or any news source that isn't a blog (no offense).

    I also noticed, from the commented sections on MLive, someone had corrected that crappy Theirs/There's thing, and it was corrected.

    So, maybe the Journal just thinks proofreading and editing should be done by the public... the way Wiki definitions work. Oy, reading the news is going to be so annoying when I'm old.

  6. One of the most annoying things on MANY blogs is the commenter who attacks grammar, typos or misspellings because he doesn't agree with the comment. I'm not saying this about this thread.

    I know to and too and two, and there and their,
    and I still make mistakes. In the on screen environment, it is difficult to edit. It's not an ideal environment from a visual standpoint either.

  7. Yes, that's a commenter using the typos of another to prove their point. It's sort of a waste of time and space since it's accepted practice at this point that misspellings and typos are common in the comment section. What do you expect when people are often having rapid fire exchanges. (And, again, I'm biased because I'm a comically bad copy editor.)

    But the Journal and other newspapers should have higher standards. I know the economic situation is forcing papers to make huge cuts. But when you make so many cuts that you can't really cover a place in a meaningful way, and the copy is rife with errors and typos, then what's the point?

  8. Gordie, The Flint Journal has had this problem since before you were born. When I was an elementary school student in the mid 1960s, we had a representative from The Flint Journal give a talk to us about the paper. One student asked why there were so many typographical errors. He basically said it went through four proof readers and he didn't understand it either.

    However, I have seen all kinds of things, recital programs, high school yearbooks, etc. that had the same problem, years ago. A yearbook from a Flint High School in the 1970s had the first picture in the senior class shown as Mary instead of Gary. Our high school valedictorian had a recital program which had her last name spelled about five different ways. So it's nothing new.

  9. Incorrect spelling, typos, and missing commas haven't been a major concern in Merrill Hood for at least 25 years.

  10. Myrtle, thanks for putting things in perspective.

  11. The playing field is level in Flint. Flint Journal = Flint and vice versa. I sure wish I could retract some of the beauties I've printed on here. My comments sometimes provide head shakers even to me. I understood what the man was sayen. He had just come out of a war zone and probably was suffering from
    P.T.S.D. Howard K. Smith

  12. Merrill Hood Is Dangerous! RLSG r a bunch of hoodlums


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at