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Readers call us out for using photo of blight in story about coronavirus in Detroit 

click to enlarge The above photo was used to illustrate a story about Detroit's rising coronavirus infection rate, causing readers to - SUZANNE TUCKER, SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Suzanne Tucker, Shutterstock
  • The above photo was used to illustrate a story about Detroit's rising coronavirus infection rate, causing readers to

We received lots of criticism on Instagram in response to Lee DeVito's March 26 blog post titled "Report: Detroit's coronavirus infection rate among the nation's highest," which featured a photo of two seemingly abandoned houses.

@beautybandit_ashley: will you please explain the correlation between reporting COVID-19 stats in Detroit and this picture of 2 abandoned houses? What does this image have to do with the health crisis? Of all the homes, neighborhoods, and properties in Detroit, why was the imagery of poverty and abandonment selected? This form of sensationalism is completely unnecessary for reporting issues in Detroit as it pertains to COVID-19. Maybe showing a picture of a hospital or medical supplies would be more sufficient... wouldn't you agree?

Respectfully, Ashley Tolliver

Hi Ashley. You're right, that was an extremely inappropriate photo for that story. I appreciate you bringing it to our attention, and I apologize for the poor judgment.

My goal was not to put Detroit down but to raise awareness of the coronavirus. The report found that Detroit's poverty was contributing to the spread of the coronavirus, and I was looking for a quick visual shorthand. But words matter, and so do photos, and I see why that upset people, especially paired with the headline. The coronavirus affects everyone, and I should have used a photo that represented all of Detroit. We have since changed the photo on the story. I promise I'll be more careful in the future. —Lee DeVito

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