October 26, 2016
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NBC: We Represented The Situation In Detroit Fairly



The Rev. Horace Sheffield III, executive director of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations, tells NBC's Chris Hansen that meeting at the network Monday "opened up some dialogue." (Credit: NBC)



Network: "We Spent 10 Months Reporting This Story"

NBC News Monday stood by the April 18 "Dateline" segment on Detroit that rattled some in the city and that the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists criticized as "unbalanced."

The Rev. Horace Sheffield III, executive director of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations, and his daughter Mary Sheffield, met in New York with producers from "Dateline" and other executives from NBC News. NBC issued this statement afterward:

"NBC News is proud of 'Dateline's' recent hour about Detroit, 'America Now: City of Heartbreak and Hope,' reported on by Detroit-area native Chris Hansen.

"We believe our broadcast fairly represented the current situation in Detroit while highlighting positive efforts and the inspirational stories of those in the community, and as the Detroit News said is " . . . a gritty, honest examination of Detroit and its problems punctuated with uplifting examples of hope and faith.'

"We want to thank Rev. Horace Sheffield III and his daughter Mary Sheffield for coming to New York for what we viewed as a very productive conversation. The Sheffields had several comments and suggestions that we are taking into consideration and we will keep the lines of communication open with them going forward.

"From Cordette Grantling to Police Chief Warren Evans, to Mayor Dave Bing and Detroit Public School Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb — this report included great stories of hope amidst despair. Beginning at a preview screening we hosted in Detroit, attended by community leaders, members of the media, representatives of the Mayor's office, and the individuals highlighted in the hour; to the tremendous amount of viewer mail after it aired — the response we received was overwhelmingly positive with much of the feedback saying how inspirational the characters are.

"A lot of thought and care goes into producing an hour as personal and important as this one. The Sheffields told us some in the community wished the hour had more historical context, and more success stories. We spent ten months reporting this story, and we will continue our reporting — seeking input from a wide range of sources."

Sheffield sat down with Hansen afterward for an interview that has been posted on the MSNBC website. He said the meeting had "opened up a dialogue" and that he understood now that "Dateline" felt the program "is going to help and not hurt." The two men then went on to discuss what should be done to alleviate the city's problems.

In a statement Saturday, the Detroit Chapter of NABJ, which was originally scheduled to send someone to the New York meeting, said it would instead express its views in correspondence and host a community forum on the issue.

Its Saturday statement said, in part: " 'Any journalist working in this city knows about the many challenges facing Detroit, said chapter President Vickie Thomas, who is the city beat and morning drive reporter for WWJ/CBS Radio. 'We report on these issues everyday with fairness and balance.

"When we falter in that regard, our feet are held to the fire as the producers of 'Dateline' should be held accountable for a piece that aired nationwide. We believe it was sensational, stereotypical, hit-and-run TV.'"

© 2010 The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education | 663 Thirteenth St., Suite 200, Oakland, CA 94612 | (510) 891-9202 

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