Roundtable: Can Detroit Bounce Back? As the median home price in Detroit falls to $7,500, what does the future look like for the Motor City? Plus, Ebony and Jet magazines struggle to stay afloat. Will Black America let them fail? Tony Cox moderates our bloggers' roundtable with K. Tempest Bradford, Eric Brown, and Kimberly Coleman.

Roundtable: Can Detroit Bounce Back?

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TONY COX, host:

So, the median house price in Detroit has fallen to under $8,000. Yes, that's cheap. But, what does the future look like for the motor city? And more bad news this time in the media market, Ebony and Jet magazines are trying to stay afloat. Will black America let them fail? Plus, calling 911 when McDonald's runs out of Chicken McNuggets. One woman gets her feathers up over a poultry emergency. We've got these stories and more on our bloggers roundtable which is coming up right now. I'm joined by K. Tempest Bradford of The Angry Black Woman blog, Eric Brown, a blogger from the Detroit News, and Kimberly Coleman, who blogs at Hello, everybody.

Ms. KIMBERLY COLEMAN (Blogger, Sista Girl Speaks Up): Hello. How are you?

Ms. K. TEMPEST BRADFORD (Blogger, The Angry Black Woman): Hey, Tony.

Mr. ERIC BROWN (Blogger, Detroit News): How are you doing?

COX: I'm doing fine. Thank you. Let's begin with this, Detroit. The Chicago Tribune ran a story last week with the headline, here it is, "It may be tough to get financing for a new car these days, but in Detroit, you can buy a house with a credit card," end quote. According to a listing service in Detroit, the median price of a home sold in the city in December was just $7,500. The article goes on to describe the bleak circumstances in the city, rapidly declining population, 50 percent of children living in poverty and on and on and on. So Eric, you live and work in Detroit, are the circumstances as dreary as they appear?

Mr. BROWN: Yes, they are. I live in the area. Actually, I live in the suburb of Detroit but I still have a family there. But yes, the circumstances are as dreary as they appear. As a matter of fact, there was an article in yesterday's Detroit Free Press, which is now the daily, here saying that you could get a house for as little as $1 in Detroit. And a lot of it has to do with just - bottom line, the population is not what they are stating it to be. And then, you take the situation with the autos doing as bad as they are. Most of the people that worked at the autos are Detroit residents or were Detroit residents, so many are getting laid off. And people are just abandoning their houses that they had, causing even more of a problem with regard to the median household rate in Detroit.

COX: Well, let me follow up with you on this, Eric. You can buy a house but you can't find a job. So, what are people, especially young people, looking to do there?

Mr. BROWN: Oh, the young people are looking on - to get on the first bus heading west, east or south because there are no jobs here. I mean, even with regards to the colleges here, most people go to college knowing that when they get out of college, when they graduate, they will be going out of the state to look for a job. It's a very dreary situation. You have a situation with unemployment is what - at 11.6 percent in the state. But in Detroit, it's probably twice as high as that.

COX: Oh, well, let's move outside of Detroit to talk about what's happening at some other areas. Kimberly, from the motor city to the media industry, Ebony and Jet magazines, two institutions of American - African-American publishing struggling to survive in the current market. Ebony's revenue shares down 18.8 percent, Jet down nearly 41 percent. What responsibility do African-Americans have, if any, in your opinion, to make sure that these publications don't go under?

Ms. COLEMAN: That's - it's really hard to say if we do have a responsibility. I subscribed both to Ebony and Jet as a Chicago - a native Chicago, and I feel a sense of responsibility for those publications. They've always been a staple - always a staple on my home growing up. And so, it depends on how relevant people feel that these magazines are. But it is important to note that the president of the United States chose Ebony as the first print interview he did after being elected, so that does say something about the relevance of that magazine.

COX: Well, you're right. And, you know, for those who don't know, Johnson Publication dates back to 1945 and holds the distinction of being the world's largest African-American owned and operated publishing company. But Tempest, let's talk about the younger generation. Do they have an appreciation for the historic symbolism of Ebony and Jet, and should they?

Ms. BRADFORD: I think they do. Speaking for me personally, I, as well as Kimberly, you know, Ebony and Jet were always in our house when I was growing up. And I was, you know, always encouraged to pick it up and just to read about what was going on in our community. So I'm sure that, you know, many people my age and younger know about Ebony and Jet and understand about the history of it. But I don't know that Ebony and Jet necessarily have kept up with the changing times, the changing demographics. Like when I think of Ebony, I think of it as a kind of magazine that my mother would read.

COX: Mm hmm.

Ms. BRADFORD: Not necessarily the kind of magazine that I would run out and read unless of course there was an interview with Obama in it.

COX: You know, that's an interesting point that you make. And you know what, Eric, when I was a kid Ebony and Jet magazines were at the barbershop and that's where you went to read them and you're caught up on it.

Mr. BROWN: Right.

COX: But when you go to the barbershop now, there's a zillion magazines there, and Ebony and Jet, they may be - if they're there at all, they may be on the bottom of the pile.

Mr. BROWN: And they are, more or less. Actually, I read Jet at work. There are people who bring in their Jet magazines to work. Ebony - I do not subscribe to neither one of them but with regard to the younger generation, Ebony and Jet - well, Johnson Publications have failed to keep up with what's going on. I think that's one of the problems with the magazine. When you are not on the Internet or involved in the technological advances like some of these other magazines, you tend to lose out.

COX: Are they not on the Internet?

Ms. COLEMAN: They are, yeah.

Mr. BROWN: You could pick up their article, but they don't have the type of stories that resonate with the younger adult generation right now. The - one of the best selling articles have been the one with Obama on the cover after he got elected. But I would like to know what those numbers were.

Ms. COLEMAN: Yeah.

Ms. BRADFORD: Actually, those numbers were very big.

COX: That's what I thought, yeah.

Ms. BRADFORD: It was one of their biggest numbers in about two years. In this month, they do have Beyonce on the cover, and I think a couple of months ago, they had Chris Brown. But so, that - they are trying to keep current. Last month, it was Terrence Howard. So, they are trying to keep current as best as they can.

COX: Well, is it…

Ms. COLEMAN: The problem with their Web site, though, is that it's not very dynamic. I mean, I was taking a look, and there are some articles there. There is like a section which appears to be a blog, but when you first go to that Web site, it does not say, you know, here we have dynamic content that's always changing, which is what people - young people look for in a magazine.

Ms. BRADFORD: Essence is doing a excellent job of that…

COX: Well, let me ask you to hold that - hold your thought just because we have to take a break, and when we come back, let's talk about what these black publications can do to keep their readership alive. We're going to take a quick break and we're going to continue this conversation on our bloggers in just a few moments.

I'm Tony Cox, and this is News & Notes. We're back now with our bloggers' roundtable. We have K. Tempest Bradford of The Angry Black Woman blog. We have Eric Brown, a blogger from the Detroit News, and Kimberly Coleman who blogs at OK, folks, we're talking about - well, before the break, we were talking about black publications, Jet and Ebony and some of their troubles and what they might need to do to hold on. I did get some information while we were away. Jet has a circulation of about 900,000; Essence, 1.1 million; Ebony 1.3 million. This is the most recent figures for them. You might think that those numbers would have been higher. But I'm assuming that the conversation was heading toward the Internet and what they could do to be there, and I want to share this with the three of you and get your responses. New York Times ran an article last week about blogs' ability to capitalize on the economic downturn. The article's saying that because of the diversity of voices, their ability to cover niche, subjects and an infinite capacity of the web for words, their blogs have been able to take on the recession from every angle. And I think, Eric, you were making the point that you went to the blog - you went to the Net and didn't find as much information as you thought. So, the blog is a place to do this, isn't it?

Mr. BROWN: Yes, it is. And it's interesting that the New York Times had that because I'm not sure if anyone watches "The Wire" or used to watch "The Wire." But the last season of "The Wire" pretty much centered on how technology was taken over from newsrooms and newspapers. You look at Rocky Mountain News closed down. There will be other newspapers that will be closing down. Matter of fact, here in Detroit, they will be going to pretty much an online service only. Newspapers will only be delivered three days a week, and that's a direct result of people either reading information online and/or the advent of the blogosphere. The blogosphere is so prevalent now and people are trying to find ways to get information out. Sometimes people find the blogs as a more credible source because there's no ties to political parties. There's no tie to a specific newspaper and what their political leanings are. And people have an opportunity to be honest and it makes sense when people are being honest to give out the right information and also providing information where people can go and research information whether that person was telling the truth, whereas papers are sometimes written from a slanted viewpoint.

COX: Well, Kimberly, is that where they should go, to the Internet, to blog more and do those kinds of online things?

Ms. COLEMAN: I think you have to balance. I think what was said earlier is right, is that once you do read blogs and also intertwine that with some newspaper reading - so, doing your research, because you can't depend just on blogs, because some of the information on blogs, as I found out, had done on a hard lesson, is incorrect.

Mr. BROWN: Correct.

Ms. COLEMAN: So, you have to do your research and balancing both regular newspapers and blogs.

COX: Well, I'm wondering, Tempest, do you think that the audience would follow if they were to do that?

Ms. BRADFORD: I think they would. I think because of just the problems that Kimberly just pointed out, is that individual bloggers, bloggers who are not tied to anything but themselves, you know, they can disseminate some great true information. They can also disseminate some great lies.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BRADFORD: It may not even be on purpose. It just may be they are misinformed. I would love to see more newspapers, magazines, you know, having more of a blog presence or an online dynamic content presence, because then they are backed up by the fact that they are an established, you know, news organization or magazine but they still like are capitalizing on what's going on now in the Internet, you know. So, you have the best of both worlds. You know, if you can trust Ebony to tell you what is true, you'll read Ebony's blog and then they'll tell you what's true on the daily basis.

COX: Well, you know, the interesting thing about what you see on the Internet is you find interesting, sometimes weird stories that you might not find other places, and I don't know that this next story qualifies necessarily for that but it might. ..TEXT: Mr. BROWN: It does.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: A woman in Florida dialed 911 three times after a local McDonald's told her that they were out of Chicken McNuggets. That's right. Twenty-seven-year-old Latreasa Goodman told police that she ordered and paid for a 10-piece Chicken McNugget meal only to be told at the store that they had run out. The McDonald server insisted that she choose a different meal and refused to give the woman a refund. That was a big mistake, Kimberly.

Ms. COLEMAN: It was. You know, I want to take a different angle on this story and say this, is that I think that some of us are having some meltdowns as a result of all of the bad news that we're hearing on the Internet, on the radio, on the news. There is hardly any good news. So I'm going to give this sister who has now says she's very embarrassed. She has received some, you know, threats on her phone in their home. I'm just going to say that she has a meltdown because of all these going on in the news today.

COX: And you know, something else that we should say probably Eric, in her defense is, if you buy something and you don't get it and the person tells you, you cannot have your money back, that's, you know, that takes it to a whole another level, doesn't it?

Ms. COLEMAN: Right, that's very true.

Mr. BROWN: It does, but the (unintelligible) when I first heard the story, I think it was Thursday, I was watching Court TV or TruTV, whatever they call Court TV now, and that was one of their weird stories of the week and I thought of it as a joke at first but then after the 911 call, they go on to show the interview of her and I was like, wow, it was true but, yes, she went a little bit too far over some chicken McNuggets, I mean, come on.

COX: Well, yeah. Tempest, I'll let you have the last word on this and we're going to move on to one other topic.

Ms. BRADFORD: OK. Well, I'd possibly call in 911 over chicken McNuggets is a little bit overboard but, I'm inclined to agree with Kimberly that, you know, since like you have all these sort of, you know, bad news, bad stuff going on your life and then somebody will not give you the refund that you're rightfully entitled to, that would just make some people, you know, just go right over the edge, and I think that McDonald's handled it best when they said, you know, she should have given the refund. I think that this is just a wake-up call. You know, when dealing with customer service, you're a cashier, whatever, just try to do your best to make the customer happy. She wasn't asking for anything unreasonable at that point, I don't think.

Mr. BROWN: No, she wasn't.

COX: One last bit of trivia, this is the very end of the time that we have for this segment, so I'm not going to have an opportunity to get all of you to weigh in on it but the question is, whether or not it is significant enough to even discuss and that is the graying, the apparent graying of our new president after only five weeks in office. Should we even be talking about this, or is it significant, Eric?

Mr. BROWN: I say yes. It lets you know how the presence of John Hopkins really get to you if you look at the last few presidents when they start in and when they end it. So I would say yes. People do not understand how tough of a job that is.

COX: Kimberly what would you say really quickly?

Ms. COLEMAN: I must, I agree, I think it's the same thing, it's going to be interesting to see how it - his gray progresses. I know mine is getting bad, too.

COX: Well, you know, it's one thing they let you're head turn gray. The bigger story will be if six months from now, his hair goes back to being jet black again. Now that would be an interesting story. Hey, thank you all very much.

Mr. BROWN: You're very welcome.

That was K.Tempest Bradford of the Angry Black Women blog. She joined us from NPR studios in New York. Eric Brown is the blogger for the Detroit News, and Kimberly Coleman blogs at Sister Girl Speaks She joined us from NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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