Reputation

An article in yesterday’s Sun has brought up the question of how the city’s reputation has and will be effected by the conviction of mayor Sheila Dixon.  While the article shows both sides of this argument I fall heavily on the side that thinks this a serious negative hit for the city.  Let’s be honest, Baltimore already has a pretty poor reputation nationally.  When was the last time you mentioned you were from/lived in Baltimore to a stranger elsewhere in America?  What was the reaction?  I’d be willing to guess that person took a swipe at our city and referenced the crime rate or other facet of Baltimore that brings about a negative connotation.  Thinking, though, about the ways in which Baltimore is viewed in popular culture (all too often the sources that shape peoples’ opinions) it’s not hard to understand why most people throughout the country don’t see Baltimore as we do, the “land of pleasant living.”  The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street, the Corner, the Ravens (generally considered by outsiders to be a team full of thugs).  These are some of the more common visions people have when they think about Baltimore and although those shows are based off of real events, we could at least hope that people were able to separate fiction and reality when forming their opinions of our city.

Having a mayor convicted of a crime, no matter how minor, does nothing but damage the reputation of a city.  News websites all over the country posted headlines in the genre of “Baltimore Mayor Convicted,” shining a dark light down that only weakens the public’s opinion.  Add to that the fact that the crime she went to trial for was stealing gift cards from local charities and we really took a big step back as a city.  As the Sun points out local authorities have been working tirelessly to improve the image and reputation of the city, but with one conviction that all came crashing down in a matter of days.  Even the work the mayor had done to lower the city’s crime rate is now overshadowed by her own criminal actions.  Although the overall rate is down and strong efforts are being made to improve the city’s reputation throughout America it only took one misdemeanor to reestablish Baltimore as a crime-ridden city in the eyes of the rest of the country

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2 responses to “Reputation

  1. It’s definitely bad press for Baltimore, but I think most can see a division between white and blue collar crime. Aside from racial factors, think about Rod Blagojevich or Mark Sanford. Their actions didn’t make me re-evaluate the cities and states that they govern, only the political establishments that they represent.

    I’d say that the coverage of Baltimore in the media/pop culture is roughly representative of the real situation. Movies like “He’s just not that into you” represent about 5% of the population, and the wire, homocide, ravens etc. represent the rest of the city.

    • I think the issue is that too many of the negatives from fictional pop culture sources have crept into the real political spectrum in Baltimore. For Blagojevich or Sanford there aren’t weekly shows about Mid-Westerners soliciting bribes or Southerners having affairs. There is, though, a very popular show about rampant crime in Baltimore and the corrupt system that’s attempting to slow it down.

      I think one of the most compelling things about The Wire is how honest and real it is on certain aspects of Baltimore, but as stories like this one emerge I think the line between fiction and reality is blurred for many outsiders. I guess this isn’t something we can control as media coverage of Baltimore is largely accurate in it’s portrayal of our city’s issues, but it would be nice to feel like I didn’t have to defend Baltimore outside this region as a great place to live.

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