The news desert we live in. Please come and visit.

The mainstream news media is shrunk and shrinking. Folks want to know what’s happening in their neighborhoods.

But they get zip instead. Zip magnified.

They get stories from the media with the largest clout and pocketbooks, if they read or hear them, that make them feel about their neighborhoods, or that tell them nothing good is happening or is going to happen.

That’s what I’ve been saying for a while, and Laura Washington says the same in a recent piece that she wrote for In These Times. Here is what she wrote:

And here is one of her key points:

For me, the thorniest question is buried deep beneath the desert floor. Chicago, a majority-minority city, is the stomping grounds of America’s first black president. Pundits chatter that the Age of Obama has ushered us into a post-racial society. Really? The gnarly racial stereotypes and barriers are still with us, and reflected in our media coverage. When reporters come looking for people battling the foreclosure crisis, they want “that nice, clean white family,” a community organizer told a focus group. “Because it’s perceived if you’re poor, if you’re Hispanic – you’re illegal, first of all. If you’re black…it was your fault.”

Little wonder. In urban America, most news decision-makers are still white males with scant ties to or knowledge of the people they purport to cover. Reporters parachute into black and Latino neighborhoods to cover violent crime and community conflict. They are quick to interview the vagrant on the corner with the rag on his head, but not so much the hardworking neighborhood entrepreneur.

But then she offers some solutions.

Talk about race honestly and openly.

Look at the racial barriers and the ways to bring them down.

Stir hope, not despair.

Make sure people hear you  —– in the church bulletin, the bulletin board, in the neighborhood blog, on the radio, on the streetcorner.

Get energized, I add, and make this all work. And if you’ve nodded at the above, you’ll help out our campaign to tell different stories about youth violence – stories of hope and action –and back our facebook webpage – We are Not alone – friend us, like us, spread the word, and maybe we’ll make a difference and maybe we won’t be living in such a news desert.

Whaddya’ think?

Steve –