Local News

Media Coverage Batters Durham's Image

Posted January 17, 2007 6:42 p.m. EST
Updated January 17, 2007 9:43 p.m. EST

— A documentary film set to be released nationwide is delivering another blow to Durham's image.

"Welcome to Durham USA," which is scheduled for national release next Tuesday, focuses on gangs in the Bull City.

"What we tried to do was show the repercussions," said producer Chris Martin, who lives in Durham. "I don't see it being different than any other place. But ... bad is bad."

The movie comes on the heels of the Duke University lacrosse case, which initially raised cries of racism and elitism in Durham and has since created questions about the local prosecutor's conduct.

"The movie is about everything that goes on in America, probably in most cities in America," executive producer Mike Wilson said.

Compared with 29 cities of similar size and makeup, Durham's violent crime rate in 2005 was 25 percent below the average.

"The intention of this version is to be able to show the balance of what's taking place in Durham, the good and the bad" Martin said.

Reyn Bowman, president and chief executive of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, said publicity that Durham receives often isn't balanced.

"It's the balance of the news that creates the image," Bowman said. "It's the fact that we're so quick to identify that (a) murder happened in Durham, but most of the media won't even recognize that (most of Research Triangle Park) is in Durham."

Durham's self-image is very positive, and so is the national image of Durham, Bowman said. But within a 100-mile radius of the city, the image is very negative, he said.

"It's all in how (the news) is covered," he said. "That imbalance is creating the problem."