Visiting journalists see a touted Detroit

Oct. 14, 2010 at 9:03 PM

DETROIT, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Out-of-town journalists toured an alternative-energy plant, saw robot surgery and witnessed urban farming in Detroit Thursday in a city bid to polish its image.

"Hopefully you will see some of the positive things going on in our city," Mayor Dave Bing told the 37 journalists at the Detroit Economic Club the day before.

The two-day junket, with an optional third day, followed a spate of headlines, newscasts and documentaries that highlighted the city's troubles since the auto industry nearly collapsed in 2008.

For instance, a Time magazine cover story about Detroit Sept. 24 said, "By any quantifiable standard, the city is on life support."

A French newspaper dubbed Detroit "Ground Zero" and the BBC aired a documentary called "Requiem for Detroit" that said "law and order has completely broken down in the inner city."

The junket, for which the journalists paid their own way, also included visits to Wayne State University, a college that offers degrees in animation and digital media, and a dinner cruise on the Detroit River, once notorious for being polluted and toxic.

"There's no spin to this," Marjorie Sorge, executive director of the Detroit Regional News Hub, a media relations cooperative that has a blog called Detroit Unspun, told The Detroit News. "We're showing people the good, the bad and the ugly."

Bing, a businessman who played for the Detroit Pistons basketball team from 1966-1975, told the News the city wasn't interested in "hiding our challenges or glossing the problems."

But he said he wanted to change "the conversation to focus on solutions."

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