Earlier today, the Downtown Devil published an editorial, written by myself and Director of Community Initiatives Connor Descheemaker, in response to what we saw as a flawed portrayal of the downtown community. Along with the editorial, we launched a poll titled “Better of Downtown” in an attempt to capture a more realistic best-of list for our community.
The editorial garnered a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, largely centered around the tone in which it was written. Although it was meant to be edgy, I have accepted that some of our snark has been misconstrued as bitterness, immaturity and disrespect.
None of that was our intention. Granted, intentions matter little in a field where you are judged by appearance, and the appearance of our editorial was petty.
Many have brought up, in comments and elsewhere, that this editorial was just another rehashing of the State Press versus Downtown Devil rivalry. Once again, that was in no way the intention of the editorial, which was meant as a critical response to a publication’s efforts to capture a best-of for downtown Phoenix, and I apologize for any who were offended and felt that the critique became personal.
Two other comments resounded in the cacophony: The authors of the post went unnamed (a common practice for editorials) and the photo illustration accompanying the post was overly dramatic and, frankly, insulting.
To address the former, our policy for naming or not naming the authors of editorials has always been vague, and our decision to not name in this case came off as cowardice. Descheemaker and I both stand behind our work and will defend the content of the article, and our names now accompany it to reflect said belief. Furthermore, the opinions reflect only a few members of our staff, not the staff at large, a clarification that needs to be made by naming the authors.
In regard to the latter, our photo illustration upon review was exaggerated, even distasteful, but at the time of creating it we thought the exaggeration would carry with it the connotation of jest as intended. It did not. For that, we have removed the photo and again apologize to those who were offended by it.
Some further explanation is also necessary as to the process behind the editorial, i.e. why it was written and what the intent behind it was.
To begin, our editorial questions the methodology of the poll. This was not meant as an affront to the organization conducting it, but rather as an inquiry: How was downtown defined for the Best of Downtown, and how were the categories selected for which downtown entities would be nominated?
As the rest of the editorial explains, many categories contained few options — in some cases, only one — in what we define as the downtown area. Additionally, many of the victorious options were far from the downtown core, most clearly evinced by New Orleans Sno Ball — as explained in the post, this location is “(m)ore than a mile from the nearest light rail stop, and several miles from any semblance of downtown.”
Once again, our intent was not to rag on the publication that conducted this best-of poll, merely to critique that we think the poll itself reflected a lack of knowledge of downtown Phoenix and its community.
This place has many great offerings, and there are certainly debates to be had as to which venues, restaurants, bars and public spaces reign supreme. Best hiking and best tapas simply aren’t a part of that discussion; we don’t mean that offensively, just realistically.
For this reason, we encourage residents, community members and students to take part in the Better of Downtown poll that we are currently conducting. We have had a great response so far, and we would love to keep that energy going.
To any of those who have lost respect for our organization because of the editorial, we sincerely apologize and hope that a single off-putting opinion piece does not cause judgments on the quality of our news content. To those who have expressed support and agreement, we hope that our actions were not championed because they were mean-spirited, but because they are of true import to the downtown community.
We greatly appreciate the feedback, positive and negative, that we have received as a sign of a thriving, intrigued audience, and for that we must give thanks. We promise to keep our audience more prominently in mind going forward, especially in cases where offense — intentional or not — could be given.
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