Charlie LeDuff golfs the length of Detroit
I meant to watch the video above when it first circulated, earlier this month. But, in the nature of the Internet, newer shinier things came along, and my attention span isn’t what it used to be.
Then I spotted a bit of an analysis on the video, which I read, and which re-sparked my interest in watching the video. So I did.
It was worth it, in an entertaining way, although I didn’t really learn much about Detroit that I didn’t already know.
But it’s a strangely compelling piece of journalism. It gimmicky, it doesn’t offer much in the way of reporting, and yet it’s a good-enough slice of life that it’s worth it. Not all news has to be of the hard-hitting, investigative type.
None of the little pieces that Charlie LeDuff uncovers in his golf-across-town amount to much more than an anecdote. He chips his ball through an abandoned house. He tries to get some cops to help a mother find her missing (and apparently drug-addicted) 20-year-old daughter. He fights with acres of overgrown grass on city land — grass the city can’t afford to cut.
And yet, taken together, the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s informative because it takes a wide view of the whole situation, rather than drilling down into the five-Ws of a single incident.
Would it work for all journalists? No.
And I’m a little uncomfortable with the implications of a white man playing such a white game, and using such overwhelmingly black neighbourhoods as his course.
But I could be inspired. I’m thinking, why not start a project called, say, “Blogging Brandon,” wherein I (and perhaps some colleagues) travel through our small city, and write a post about every single block, in turn. We could do one a week, and probably spend the next decade catching up, at which point we could start again.
(A very rough estimate suggests there are about 4000 separate blocks in my hometown, which means we could do a new one EVERY DAY, and it would still take more than a decade.)