“Individuals make neighborhoods.”
These were the words spoken by Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Mayfair Community Development Corp., at Thursday’s meeting between community leaders and members of various Philadelphia news outlets.
The meeting, which took place in the Mayfair Civic Center, was a chance for those in the community to voice their opinions on how journalists cover the neighborhood, and discuss ways to make Northeast Philly easier to cover for news outlets.
DeFelice, who was president of the CDC from 2009 to 2013, said he attended the meeting because he believed the neighborhood “needs to be a better Mayfair.” He also spoke of his desire to make Mayfair a destination – the downtown of Northeast Philly.
NBC 10 and the Philadelphia Daily News, as well as other journalists, represented the news outlets during the meeting.
Donny Smith, the current Mayfair CDC president, said he attended the meeting because he was sick and tired of hearing stories that put Mayfair in a bad light.
“I hate that the mentality has become if it bleeds, it leads,” Smith said. “I came to this meeting to express my desire for positive journalism in Mayfair, and I think today really helped.”
The event, which lasted more than an hour, was the fifth meeting between neighborhood community leaders and Philadelphia news outlets, and there are many more planned for the future.
The goal of the meeting, according to moderator George Miller, a professor at Temple University and editor of the music magazine JUMP Philly, was to keep journalists informed of what was happening in the community, and to make sure that the neighborhood was being portrayed fairly in the media. Miller teaches the class that produces PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com.
Smith spoke about the difficulties of reaching out to journalists.
“It’s tough for us to get information out there because when we go to tell a journalist, we end up sending the information to some black hole where it’ll never be seen again, and that’s not the way it should be,” Smith said.
One of the solutions to this problem, according to Philadelphia Daily News writer Dan Geringer, is to contact writers directly. Geringer explained that at the bottom of his stories, there is always an email address to contact him. He also spoke of the need for journalists to cover neighborhoods.
“We [at the Daily News] put out around two to three neighborhood stories a week. It’s important to us and to the rest of Philadelphia because Philadelphia is its neighborhoods.” Geringer said.
The Center for Public Interest Journalism, or CPIJ, located at Temple University, facilitated the talks. The CPIJ’s director, Andrew Mendelson, was also in attendance, offering answers to anyone’s questions. Mendelson is also chairman of the journalism department at Temple University.
After the meeting concluded, most people went around the room and introduced themselves to each other, hoping to bridge the gap between journalists and the neighborhood.
– Text and images by Ean Dunn and Steven Foltz