Negative Perceptions an Obstacle for Jackson | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Negative Perceptions an Obstacle for Jackson

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B. D'Andra Orey, JSU political science professor, says rebranding the city is important to attract new residents to Jackson.

Communicating positive messages about Jackson's progress and ending negative perceptions about crime is important to attract new residents to the city of Jackson, Jackson State University professor B. D'Andra Orey told a group of citizens this morning.

"You might know (people) who actually moved out of the city, but those are anecdotal cases, and you can't make those inferences based on those few cases that you know," Orey said about conclusions drawn from the 2010 Census. "It's the same with crime. A murder might have taken place a few weeks ago--that one murder. So we tend to sometimes have perceptions that don't equate with reality."

Speaking at Koinonia Coffee House's Friday Forum, Orey gave a presentation on the 2010 U.S. Census data to approximately 30 community members. The presentation is part two of a series on the impact of Census data that revealed Jackson's population dropped 5.8 percent over the last decade, from 184,256 in 2000 to 173,514 in 2010. Unreported by many local media outlets, however, is that Jackson's population loss has slowed from the previous decade, which showed that the city lost 6.3 percent of its residents from 1990 to 2000. The Census also revealed that Jackson's black population increased by 26 percent from 1990 to 2010.

Orey pointed out that Jackson was not the only city in the metro area to see an increase in black population. From 1990 to 2010, Madison County reported a 53 percent rate-of-growth increase in black residents and Rankin County reported an 83 percent increase.

Perceptions of inadequate public education and high violent crimes are two challenges the city must overcome to bring more people to the city, Orey said. Using data from the Jackson Police Department, Orey displayed a graph showing house and auto burglaries as the highest incidents of crime for March 7 through 11.

"I think we, in Jackson, need to do a better job of branding the fact that we don't have these murders and rapes taking place," he said.

Orey, along with JSU visiting professor Leniece Davis and sociology professor Thomas Kersen, suggested that community members create a coalition to rebrand the city made up of city officials, business elite members, social justice advocates, and citizens of various ages and ethnicities.

Thomas cited the most recent 2007 "Cities Ranked and Rated" report from Sperling's BestPlaces.net, showing that Jackson's violent crime was below the national average. Jackson scored high for its low cost of living, and its arts, culture and health care. Overall, the city ranked 98 out of 373 cities.

"We should think about what we are good at in Jackson that maybe Madison and Clinton and those folks don't have, and that could be part of the rebranding process," Kerson said

After the presentation, Parents for Public Schools Executive Director Susan Womack said she would like to see more dialogue for community members to understand that the Mississippi Department of Education's "Academic Watch" average ranking for Jackson Public Schools is the equivalent of making a C on an exam.

"We need to stop talking about Jackson Public Schools as a failing district and talk about it as a big urban district, under-resourced, that has a lot of work to do," she said.

Previous Comments

ID
162794
Comment

One thing that needs to be tackled is why Jackson has a negative perception, particularly among people outside of the city and around the state. I do believe a lot of the hysteria about crime is perception to a degree. Sure, crime is happening and needs to be brought down to appreciable levels (though one crime is too many, but we know we can't achieve a crime-free city), but when you hear the same crime story circulated on all the local newscasts, you think this was Baghdad.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2011-03-25T18:13:47-06:00
ID
162800
Comment

This sounds more like the kind of "rebranding" that makes sense: Let people know what the truth really is, rather than trying to rebrand by generalizing against our schools, our police force, our elected officials and everything else in site. Brand with accurate information. And I would add, brand by showing, not telling all the time. Lacey also tells me there were kind words spoken about the JFP's approach to covering this issue at this morning's forum. We really appreciate that many people are getting our point.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-25T18:51:44-06:00
ID
162811
Comment

There were, indeed, kind words about the JFP. I said them! But I also encouraged folks in the room to "go over the heads" of local media by aggressively telling positive Jxn stories on facebook. And I discouraged cynicism. Don't assume the Ledger, WJTV won't run the good news stories so many of us are clamoring to see. Write a good press release and follow-up, follow-up, follow-up... I walked away very encouraged yesterday.

Author
whoverstreet
Date
2011-03-26T15:35:58-06:00
ID
162812
Comment

Agreed. I always encourage people to hold other media's feet to the fire; pitch them stories and talk back to them when you believe they get it wrong. If people would speak up more about bad media coverage, they could change at least some of it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-26T21:17:59-06:00
ID
162814
Comment

The phrase "Perception of crime" is beginning to become somewhat of a joke.

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2011-03-27T12:55:11-06:00
ID
162817
Comment

Bill, I know of no one who has ever said that crime is a perception -- we wrote incessantly trying to correct that urban myth back when a Clarion-Ledger reporter misquoted Chief Robert Moore in a meeting I attended. The discussion was always about the need to correct perceptions that crime is out of control or hopeless -- a common meme in criminal-justice circles. But the "local" corporate media made it into something it wasn't, and it became a way to get the mayor ousted and Melton elected. Nice job that was. I like to think the city as a whole has gotten a bit more intelligent about "perception" around the topic of crime after the Melton fiasco.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-28T09:51:23-06:00
ID
162818
Comment

I was referencing one of the above comments. The people I talk to don't have "perceptions" of crime, they have real life experiences, or have friends or family that do. Furthermore, the same could be said about JPD and their response (or lack thereof) to property crimes. The growing sentiment seems to be "It's JPD, what do you expect?"

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2011-03-28T10:01:51-06:00
ID
162819
Comment

Bill, you are making the same faulty leap in logic that others did: No one said about that there is a "perception of crime." Obviously, the crime that exists exists and is real. Few would be silly enough to say that isn't true. I'm guessing you're referring to this comment: One thing that needs to be tackled is why Jackson has a negative perception, particularly among people outside of the city and around the state. I do believe a lot of the hysteria about crime is perception to a degree. Sure, crime is happening and needs to be brought down to appreciable levels (though one crime is too many, but we know we can't achieve a crime-free city), but when you hear the same crime story circulated on all the local newscasts, you think this was Baghdad. See the difference? It's an important one.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-28T10:10:14-06:00
ID
162825
Comment

http://msbusiness.com/blog/2000/10/crime-perception-of-it-influencing-economic-development-in-jackson/

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2011-03-28T11:55:08-06:00
ID
162827
Comment

Exactly, Bill. The mayor nailed it in that 2000 interview you just linked. From it: Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr. said the perception of crime in Jackson is a hindrance to economic development. “Crime, reduction of crime and perception of crime all have an impact on the economic development of a city,” Johnson said. “We are working very hard to drastically reduce crime in Jackson, and recent statistics show that what we are doing under Chief Bracy Coleman is working, especially in terms of crimes of violence and crimes against persons.” Johnson said he is very aware that businesses looking at locating and expanding in a city are also concerned about property crimes, and the cost of providing security for their employees and property. “Unfortunately, the perception of crime remains long after statistics show a reduction,” he said. “We have to tell the good news as well as having honest dialogue about the problems. We have to do both, because fighting crime involves citizen participation, and citizens must be aware of what is happening in order to cooperate with law enforcement.” How can anyone with half a brain cell tried to turn *those* remarks into "the mayor (or whomever) says crime is just a perception'?!? And note for the record that the actual quote "perception of crime" is by writer Lynn Jeter, not the mayor. *His* remarks are in quotes, and he was trying to talk about something important. This is the kind of half-baked garbage that holds this city back, especially when the evidence of what he is actually saying is RIGHT THERE IN THE ARTICLE YOU LINKED. For God's sake, people, criticize others on the merits, but don't make crap up or twist their words completely out of context for political reasons. Jackson has seen enough of that idiocy in the past. We need to grow up.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-28T12:15:35-06:00
ID
162828
Comment

(And, I will add that I spent way too much time years back trying to correct this "perception" crap that the corporate media and Melton supporters were spreading. It's a waste of everyone's time and energy. Find a new political saw (and one based in reality). Let's stipulate here and now that no one thinks that actual crime in Jackson is only a "perception," and then get on with dialogue that actually means something.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-28T12:17:52-06:00
ID
162831
Comment

Actually, I HAVE heard people go on and on about Jackson's crime problem being overblown. My perception is these people have their head in the sand. And the "perception" that JPD is ineffective and unprofessional is very much rooted in reality.

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2011-03-28T13:03:39-06:00
ID
162833
Comment

Actually, I HAVE heard people go on and on about Jackson's crime problem being overblown. My perception is these people have their head in the sand. See that's the problem right there? It's comments like that! It's unnecessary and it feeds the negativity of the environment, it's not solving anything and it's certainly not helping anything either. I mean let's talk about crime and whom it affects, most of your everyday crimes are related base; in other words 9 times out of 10, the offender has some kind of relationship with the victim. So if your not dealing drugs, if your not buying stolen property/goods, if your not invloved with any crooked activity - you shouldn't have any concerns. But I have to say this, there is a air of hate, literally people hate this place and I'm just not speaking of Jackson, in Mississippi as a whole! Their is no sense of pride in anything, there seems to be no kind of commonality amongst the citizenry. It's just the negativity period, its terrible! You can feel it in the workplace, when your out and about shoppiing, out to dinner with friends, at the movies with the significant other, by the service you receive in certain estbalishments. Until Mississippians learn to start caring about Mississippi as a whole, Jackson will always have that "negative" stigma.

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-03-28T14:08:48-06:00
ID
162835
Comment

Bill, I'm sure you can appreciate the distinction you continue to ignore. On the one hand, there is supposedly some claim that the crime problem is merely a perception. No one actually makes this claim. On the other, there is the claim that coverage of crime is sensationalistic and politicized. That is plainly true. Crime fell dramatically in the years before Melton ran against Johnson. However you may feel about Johnson, the city made huge strides in reducing crime during his first two terms. But Melton ran on crime being out of control. That is, he ran on the perception that crime was getting worse when it was actually getting better. Not only was that perception wrong factually, it was wrong morally, for it added to the perception that Jackson was deteriorating when it was improving. People do not want to help save something they believe is doomed. Then, under Melton's gross mismanagement, crime increased dramatically. But many people in the state cheered the heroic crime fighting of our drunk and disorderly crusader. Again, perception trumped reality. Now, crime is falling in Jackson again, but the perception is that crime is increasing. Would you have guessed that the murder rate fell from 63 murders in 2008 to 37 murders in 2009, the latest year available? (Call it the Melton effect--that is, crime went up dramatically during the Melton administration but was in decline both before and after he was in office.) Does local media coverage reflect that improvement? Show me the headline from the Clarion-Ledger that screams, "Jackson Murder Rate Falls 40 Percent!" Can't find it? Do you see why that is a problem?

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2011-03-28T14:51:12-06:00
ID
162837
Comment

So, Brian, you're telling me that I, in fact, have NOT heard people making that claim? Guess I'd better get my ears checked.

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2011-03-28T15:12:15-06:00
ID
162838
Comment

Oh, and while we're at it, coverage of crime has ALWAYS been sensationalized, going back to when the printing press was invented. "If it bleeds, it leads".

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2011-03-28T15:25:56-06:00
ID
162868
Comment

All, I just saw this comment by Mr. Orey on his Facebook page; I don't think he'll mind if I post i here: Byron D'Andra Orey Brian, actually we outrank Birmingham according to the publication: Cities Ranked and Rated. Jackson is a city with limited resources and flight only makes it worst. The city, however, is on a comeback (e.g., King Edwards and Farish St. Project). The leadership has to work with the city government or vice versa actually, similar to how Andrew Young turned the ATL around. Regardless of whether business picks up, we still are confronted with a large poverty rate. That is an entirely different topic that really needs to be addressed. He makes exactly points we've been trying to make: City "leaders" must learn to work with the city, and vice versa, instead of constantly warring and complaining about each other. And poverty is the real elephant in the room. Talking about reducing crime without talking seriously about reducing poverty makes no sense. That, of course, leads directly to the question of local jobs and education/training/mentoring for them. Mr. Orey has made the smartest comments I've heard on all of these issues, yet. Y'all will be hearing from him more in the pages of our newspaper.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-29T09:24:25-06:00
ID
162870
Comment

Just saw your latest comments, Bill. You keep baiting and switching your point. Are you saying that you have heard people say that "crime is a perception"? Then, obviously, they were idiots. Now, if they said that crime perceptions have been overblown, then they are correct. People around here love to make it sound like Jackson is the most dangerous place on earth, and we're just not (especially if you're not involved in, which includes being a customer, in the illicit drug trade). We have reported repeatedly on the media and politicians from Barbour to Wilson Carroll to the Better Jackson PAC taking "dangerous" ratings out of context, using faulty comparisons and even using numbers from previous years when their opponents weren't even in office. We've watched the Clarion-Ledger completely twist a statement that a previous chief made and then use it over and over again as a meme to help get Melton elected. We have done analyses of crime statistics that show how media have made false comparisons during times when crime was actually way down over previous years. We have shown that areas where people believe crime is the worst (like downtown) can be some of the safest areas to be. And on and on. So, yes, it is true that the perception of crime has been overblown -- utter fact. That, in no way, translates into saying that "crime is a perception." Only a fool, or a politician or media outlet pandering to them, would try to say the two mean the same thing.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-29T09:32:11-06:00
ID
162871
Comment

As for your statement that the media have always sensationalized crime: well, I guess that makes it right, then? It makes it OK that people live in fear (especially of "the other")) because the media scare the hell out of them with bad information? It makes it fine that we spend valuable time arguing about who is "tougher on crime" when we could actually be doing things to prevent it? It's hunky dory that the media cause us to spend valuable resources on, say, the drug war when it actually creates more crime and recidivism? It's groovy that this sensationalism urges people to get behind ridiculous candidates for public office with their own personal agendas (like Melton)? No, none of that makes sense. If you take time to look, you will find loads of research about the harmful effects of the mass media's crime sensationalism on communities and even people's faulty beliefs about safety and crime rates. Here are just two quick pieces to consider: Crime on the Rise? Public perception of crime remains out of sync with reality, criminologist contends Pessimism About Crime Is Up, Despite Declining Crime Rate And the JFP has written repeatedly about this sensationalism over the years -- and its effects. Like this publisher's note back in 2005: Sensational 'Suburban Legends' Or, all these stories warning about the the cynical and faulty use of the Morgan-Quitno rankings for political purposes.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-29T09:43:08-06:00
ID
162882
Comment

"As for your statement that the media have always sensationalized crime: well, I guess that makes it right, then?" Perhaps Bill was simply making the point that if the media has always sensationalized crime, then it can't be considered a primary cause of recent demographic changes that are unique to Jackson. Now, whether the media has always sensationalized crime in the same manner and to the same degree can be debated, but if we accept that there hasn't been a change in media coverage, then I think it's fair to say media coverage isn't the primary cause of the demographic shifts.

Author
Mark Geoffriau
Date
2011-03-29T11:52:17-06:00
ID
162886
Comment

I think it's fair to say media coverage isn't the primary cause of the demographic shifts. You're arguing with the door post again, Mark. No one is arguing that media coverage Is "he primary cause of the demographic shifts." In fact, I've pissed off a few people of late because while acknowledging our decades of flight that started with massive white flight, I have pointed out that there are multiple reasons that people have left or, by extension, demographics have shifted. That doesn't mean the mass media get off scot-free, however, for the damage they've done. The whole Melton fiasco alone is worth a whole chapter in a media sensationalism book.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-29T12:33:43-06:00

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