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Some Locals Disagree With National Media's Portrayal Of Durham

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DURHAM, N.C. — Pick up any newspaper or turn to any channel, and it's a good bet Duke lacrosse is mentioned at some point. After over five weeks of making headlines, the national focus on Durham doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

From the cover of Newsweek to the inside pages of People magazine, Duke, Durham and the rape investigation continue to dominate national headlines.

"I think some of the coverage has been unfair to Durham," said resident Stefani Barbero.

Barbero is a Duke grad who chose to live in Durham because of it's diversity and community activism. She believes the national media tried to turn the protests, prayer vigils and public forums into something negative.

"I just get the feeling people are waiting for the riot -- it's never going to happen," said Barbero.

Mayor Bill Bell feels the national media is quick to exploit the racy side of the story. In the first few weeks, many portrayed Durham as a poor black city sitting in the shadows of the elite white university. Bell said with fewer developments in the criminal case, the media is finally paying more attention to detail.

"The New York Times has suddenly decided to say Durham is a middle-class city instead of a gritty city," he said.

Most of the media has packed up and left, but some networks are here for the long haul. Their crews have been told they are staying indefinitely.

Bell said there is a silver lining to all the coverage. He believes all the focus on the case has forced community leaders and residents to take a hard look at underlying issues like classism and racism. Bell said there's been plenty of dialogue, and that is a good thing.


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