Fox 5 Atlanta defames East Atlanta

Oh, this has pissed me off. Last night and today, Fox 5 here in Atlanta has been reporting on the increase in murders in our fair city during 2006. The biggest increase in the number of murders occurred in Atlanta”s Zone 6, of which East Atlanta is a part. In 2006, there were 15 homicides in Zone 6, compared to 6 in 2005.

So Fox 5 decides to focus on this increase in reports by Mark Teichner that aired on their 10 p.m. news last night and during their morning news program today. I”m not sure how long this will remain live on their site, but here”s a version of the report on their horrible website.

In that report, Fox 5 makes this statement:

“But nowhere has the jump been as dramatic as in East Atlanta, where in 2005 they had 6 murders; last year 15. A 150% spike.”

In case you do not see the video, it was peppered with scenes from East Atlanta, including our big green “Welcome to East Atlanta” sign and shots along Flat Shoals Avenue.

But there”s a little problem here. Their claim that murders were up in East Atlanta is 100%, absolutely, indisputably false. During 2006, there were exactly zero murders in East Atlanta. None. Not any.

Atlanta”s Zone 6 includes eleven separate “beats”, and the APD reports crimes by category, zone and beat. This is accessible through a crime mapping tool on the APD website.

Here”s the rundown of homicides in Zone 6 broken out by the individual beats:

Beat 601 – 0 homicides
Beat 602 – 3 homicides
Beat 603 – 0 homicides

Beat 604 – 1 homicide
Beat 605 – 1 homicide
Beat 606 – 0 homicides
Beat 607 – 1 homicide
Beat 608 – 4 homicides
Beat 609 – 1 homicide

Beat 610 – 0 homicides
Beat 611 – 4 homicides

East Atlanta is Beat 610 – zero homicides. Yet Fox 5 chose to tag East Atlanta with having a 150% increase in murders during 2006. This is likely a result of the typical extremely lazy journalism practiced by local television stations, but the effect is that over their air they have repeatedly painted East Atlanta as an area of the city that has experienced a 150% increase in homicides over the past year, and tangentially suggested East Atlanta has a drug dealing problem, as they have placed the cause of Atlanta”s increased homicide rate on drug activity.

Often times the media refers to “east Atlanta” in the generic sense (there is a big difference between “east Atlanta” and “East Atlanta”), but in this case, Fox 5 specifically came to East Atlanta, broadcast our welcome sign and neighborhood scenes along with the statement that murders in “East Atlanta” have risen 150%. Completely irresponsible and absolutely associating this with “East Atlanta”, not just “east Atlanta”.

I”ve written to a bunch of people at Fox 5 demanding a retraction to this defamatory portrayal of East Atlanta. We”ll see what happens, but I wanted to at least expose the truth here.

That is all.

Update: Apparently Fox 5 leadership doesn”t like to respond to emails, but if you create a blog on their crappy community site calling them out, they”ll give you a response. The guy there is hiding behind the notion that “eastern Atlanta” is what they meant, so I don”t expect much of a meaningful retraction, but we”ll see.

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