The other day, I received a press release about an upcoming event. The release had been forwarded to me after the event, and, since I found it compelling, I wondered how much media attention it got. The answer in a minute….
But first, the release:
DETROIT — On June 26, at 2pm, a group of U.S. military veterans will hang a large banner on the abandoned Eddystone Hotel, on Sproat St., between Cass and Park, to protest and reveal the effect of war spending on American cities.
Members of Veterans For Peace (VFP), attending the U.S. Social Forum, a gathering of over 8,000 activists from across the U.S., created and erected the 10 x 15-foot sign that reads, “HOW IS THE WAR ECONOMY WORKING FOR YOU?” Detroit has an unemployment rate of 15 percent and 10,000 abandoned homes on the mayor’s demolition list.
That’s bad enough, but what really got my attention were the following statistics:
Taxpayers in Detroit have sent a total of nearly two billion dollars to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The city’s 2011 general fund budget of 1.3 billion dollars contains an estimated deficit of 300 million dollars, even after years of cutbacks in services once assumed to be part of urban life. The budget for Detroit schools has a deficit in the same range.
“Detroit, like so many of our cities, is in crisis,” said Mike Ferner, National President of VFP. “This crisis is no different than a five-alarm fire and we should respond the same way. Instead, we watch America’s cities literally crumble while we pour thousands of lives and trillions of dollars into wars abroad.”
John Amidon, President of VFP Chapter 10, added, “It’s absolutely criminal that the people who built the U.S. auto industry have to watch their city collapse around them while they send $2,000,000,000 to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is indeed the purest form of madness and it’s coming to a city near you.”
The release concluded with a fairly innovative plan for future action:
VFP, with over 100 chapters, is beginning a campaign to work with local government officials to place war counters on city halls stating the amount of money each community has sent to the wars….
Ok, so how much coverage did this protest get—or the relevant and moving accompanying statistics? Answer: None at all. Nothing. Nada. That, in short, is the state of journalism today: keeping the war far from the home front.