It would generally be seen as a boon for the city to receive front page mention by the New York Times, according to the notion of "All publicity is good publicity." But the city takes an unfair hit in my opinion, which perhaps could be challenged, providing an opportunity to reap more favorable publicity. Here I refer to the story in the June 26 issue, accompanied by the large top of page photo.
It said, "Small cities in the Midwest and Northeast are particularly vulnerable. When major industries left town...in places like Johnstown, Decatur, Ill., and Saginaw. Mich. Now, the work force is getting hit a second time, and there is little to fall back on." Three cities get mentioned near the beginning of a long article, but afterward it is Johnstown which gets all the attention. As would be customary, toward the conclusion there are the glimmers of hope, represented by such wording as "determined to make downtown thrive again," "to help revitalize the area" and "inspired by Pittsburgh, another former steel town that revived its economy by attracting new businesses." Then there is mention of Donald Bonk, identified as the economic development consultant hired by the county, who strolls down Main Street with the reporter, and points out a few successful new businesses as a sign of hope: "They want to see it be a healthy, thriving community, like where they grew up."
But for Decatur and Saginaw there is only the "black mark" near the beginning, unexplained, unchallenged by the evidence of civic and merchant initiatives to strengthen the local economies. I believe that this article ought to be answered by, at minimum, a powerful, positive letter to the editor, signed by multiple leaders of the city.
Stephen A. Wolf, Champaign