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Southeast D.C. Experiencing A Development Boom? Where?

Sprawling, spectacular view of new urbanism in 'Near Southeast'. []
Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Riverfront neighborhood - more specifically, the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District or (BID) - truly has a great deal to be proud of. Having taken what was most surely one of the bleakest corridors of the Nation's Capital, one historically blighted by drugs, crime and unemployment, it has created an inspiring example of urban renewal, strategic investment and civic relevance for neighboring areas to follow...

And I applaud them for that.

However, for D.C.'s W-JLA Channel 7 to present Capitol Riverfront as an example of a development boom in 'Southeast' is more than a little dishonest, intellectually speaking. When W-JLA refers to 'Southeast Washington' in its numerous, exploitative crime stories, it is almost always referring to some troubled cluster of streets - not even an entire neighborhood - that most Washingtonians, west of the Big Dirty, have never heard of. Most of the time, it's negative and almost never referring to the big, shiny hotels, bars, restaurants, hotels, stadiums and federal agencies, scattered along M Street, in what Riverfront area bloggers like to call 'Near Southeast'. It is dishonest, because Channel 7 knows where most locals understand 'Southeast' to be...

And Capitol Riverfront isn't it.

Where was Channel 7, after the derecho of 2010, ..when Penn Branchers - many of whom were elderly or retired - having not seen a D.C. Metropolitan Police squad car for THREE DAYS, were forced to arm themselves and patrol their own Southeast, middle-class neighborhood, after PEPCO told them that Penn Branch's power would not be restored for two or three weeks? I was there, in Penn Branch, witnessing, firsthand, the courage and heroism of these proud, East-of-River residents, as they mounted every minivan, sedan and SUV they could find to drive around dark streets, maneuvering around downed trees and power lines, knocking on the doors of disabled senior neighbors, to keep our great, often uncelebrated community safe from looters, vandals, rapists, ..and I didn't see W-JLA, anywhere.

By contrast, in 2012, every blogger, newspaper, TV and radio station in the region, including W-JLA, descended on Penn Branch to mischaracterize the tragic outcome - a fatal stabbing - of an on-going feud, between two long-time residents, a murder "over dog poop". Most of us Branchers knew how this would be reported, before the first TV van arrived, and W-JLA did little to discourage us. On that bleak winter's day, Channel 7 and those other media enterprises, none of whom are headquartered in Southeast, spared no expense, telling the world that Southeast denizens were still doing what they regularly mislead everyone to think we do best...

Killing each other.

So, forgive me, if I get more than a little peeved, when a TV station that routinely sullies the image of our hard-working Southeast neighborhoods - specifically, those east of the Anacostia River - tries to feather its 'fair journalism' cap, with a pretentious story about a development boom in 'Southeast'. W-JLA knows that the Southeast, commonly presented in its relentless slew of sensational crime stories - typically, with sirens, flashing lights and disoriented, African American residents - will not benefit from anything booming on glamorous, new urbanist Capitol Riverfront, and JLA 7 should not get a pass or clap on the back...

For misleading us to think, otherwise.

Every once in a while, the local media lobs one past straight over my head, and this article - originally published on W-JLA's website, back in April - is one of those times. Have a look.


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