Crime and controversy in St. Paul


Reactions to a recent TC Daily Planet article (St. Paul Challenge: “Love the house. Hate the neighborhood.”) have been passionate. The article began with the story of a resident concerned about shootings on his block. In Facebook and E-Democracy posts, some readers expressed anger at the article:

This is the WORST article I have ever read!!!.

I am offended by the cheap shot title and opening paragraph of the article “Love the home, hate the neighborhood.” …  I am a homeowner in Frogtown. I love my house AND I love my neighborhood. I feel safe here, and am enriched because of my neighbors and the organizations around me. 

TC Planet should be banned.

Other readers expressed empathy with the resident who expressed his fears and defended the Daily Planet’s article: 

 [It] could have been done better, but I think you need to walk in another man’s shoes here–that of a parent exasperated with gun violence. As a Frogtown mom that had a bullet come through our window this year, and terrible gun violence on Aurora, it’s really hard to “love” the neighborhood when you’re in fear. 

Here’s another way of looking at this. The reporter has identified what most people would regard as a problem. A guy who lives in Frogtown is concerned because there have recently been multiple shooting incidents near the home that he occupies with his young children. The reporter is not in the public relations business. He’s in the information business. This is information that makes me wonder what we are doing together to stop gun violence. It does not make me wonder what we can do to shut up a reporter who is alerting us to it. 

Community-focused news projects are structured and function very differently than commercial media organizations. They deserve support and understanding of their developing role in the community, not Medieval calls for “banning” and people not even thinking through that enough going “I agree”. On an e-democracy forum. That’d be funny if it weren’t so shameful and creepy.

Crime is a reality in Frogtown, and a major concern for many residents, including the one who was quoted in this article. Of course, it is not the only news coming out of Frogtown. Over the years, we have published dozens of positive articles about Frogtown — focusing on business, arts, community projects, youth, organizing, building, and growing

The current controversy raises some questions about what stories should be told, about how they should be told, and about the role of media. Here are some of the questions: how would you answer them? Click below to comment, or send your comment to

• This story focused on one person’s point of view, though also including what a couple of others said. Is it okay for an article to tell one person’s story in an article? Or should every article include stories from multiple people?

• The headline — St. Paul Challenge: “Love the house. Hate the neighborhood.” — drew a lot of criticism. (And, for the record, the headline is my responsibility as editor, not the writer’s choice.) Headlines are supposed to capture the attention of readers, and this one did. Should it have been less negative? What would you have written as a headline?

• In many small-town newspapers, it’s traditional to publish mostly positive news. That kind of boosterism is less common in cities. Should news media focus on stories that build up neighborhoods, and try not to publish articles that focus on negatives? Should stories about crime in a neighborhood be minimized?

• “St. Paul Challenge” prominently featured discussion of crime, and it got a lot of readers. In a quick search, the only Frogtown article that got more readers than this one was an article about a proposal to rebrand part of the neighborhood as “Little Mekong.” In choosing stories, how important is it to consider what people want to read?