Saturday, February 16, 2008

Finding Beacon Hill Stories

On most days, I search the Seattle P-I and Seattle Times websites for "beacon hill," hoping to find all the news stories about our neighborhood. However, the reporters sometimes misidentify Beacon Hill (even its western edge) as "Rainier Valley," and more often they just don't even bother trying to identify the neighborhood and just call it "South Seattle."

Yesterday they pulled a new one, identifying an area east of Rainier Avenue as Beacon Hill.

The story is only credited to "staff," so I won't bother trying to get this corrected. But these reporting inaccuracies make it hard to try to find out what's really happened in our neighborhood over the years. Do they screw up this badly in other neighborhoods, or are local reporters particularly ignorant of areas south of I-90?


wsb said...

Sure, it happens elsewhere. Just the other day, my heart skipped a beat when I came back from checking the 'police blotter' and saw a citywide media outlet reporting something that was news to me -- a major fuel theft "in West Seattle." Wellll, technically, it wasn't West Seattle - it was just over the line to the south, a King County SO case, and that's why it wasn't in the reports I reviewed. The eastern and southeastern areas of WS are most commonly misidentified, no surprise. But having worked in citywide media, I can tell you, it's simply a case of people reporting on areas with which they are not familiar ... and there are few things worse than trying to squint at the Thomas Bros. map guide to figure out how to identify, for a news story, an area with which you aren't familiar ... there just aren't always clear guidelines/boundaries, and unless somebody's in the newsroom right that moment to ask, "Hey, you live on Beacon Hill, is xxxx technically part of Beacon Hill" -- you may be SOL.

JvA said...

Thanks for weighing in, WSB. But the example you list is also south of I-90, perhaps helping prove my point? :)

I mean, can you imagine local reporters mistaking Wallingford for Ravenna?

I've always suspected that news outlets like to identify White Center and other traditionally sketchy areas as "West Seattle" to encourage people to keep watching through the commercials, or turn to B4, or whatever.

I guess I assumed that the Times and P-I would have big maps of the city on the newsroom wall so reporters, eds, and copyeds could quickly ascertain where their stories actually took place. Or that they'd look the addresses up on Mapquest or Google maps or the city's online neighborhood maps.

Beacon Walker said...

yah, I'm with jva, and have you noticed we've actually developed a south end paranoia? so it almost seems like it's bad news before we even read it! (This produces this really sad flip side, of making me cheerful when people get shot on Queen Anne. How sick is that!) What i love about my neighborhood is kinda also what i hate about it.

JvA said...

I did notice this story in the Seattle Times today:

"Detectives believe Queen Anne home invasion wasn't random

Seattle police will keep more officers in the Queen Anne neighborhood in reaction to the beating of a 44-year-old man during a home-invasion robbery Sunday."

And my immediate thought was that never in a gazillion years would the SPD up the police presence in the South End in response to an act of violence between people who knew each other. I mean, can you imagine?

Scott R said...

How about this? The P-I has renamed the Rainier Valley...