Please stop helping. Please stop parachuting into our community and making wild claims based on lazy journalism, shoddy research, and at best, questionable data. Please stop “helping.”
I have had enough. I’ve had enough of reporters, both national and international, spending a few hours in our community, “diagnosing our issues,” leaving, and then writing outlandish stories about how things are in lowly Portsmouth, Scioto County, and Southern Ohio.
They’ve yet to offer help or solutions, and they are certainly not willing to stay behind and spend the hundreds of hours other people have worked to actually address and solve the issues – people like Derek Allen, Joseph Pratt, Bryan Davis, Summer Kirby, Regina Tipton, the Burke and Glockner families, and countless other unnamed advocates for our community.
In the last two years, I’ve received over 30 requests for interviews to talk about our community’s drug-related issues. Fine. Almost all of the interviews go like this: (a) “we drove to worst neighborhood in town, talked to the first person we saw and man your town sucks; (b) there’s nothing positive in your town; (c) there are no jobs; and (d) everyone there is backward, uneducated, and on drugs, so that’s why your community so strongly supports Trump…” AHHH!!! They are all exactly the same. Seriously, if you see one of these articles, play bingo with those four points, and you’ll get three out of four every time. It’s a self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling storyline. It’s abundantly clear none of the folks have ever read any of the other articles, and the “new” story just rehashes the old.
Two recent articles really increased my blood pressure. The first claimed that because there are no jobs in Chillicothe, the women can’t find husbands and thus fall into a state of drug-addicted unhappiness. There are so many things wrong with that concept that I do not even know where to begin. We could look to the data. There are nearly the same amount of manufacturing jobs in Chillicothe as there was 20 years ago, and the annual wages have increased by nearly $15,000 over that time. Last week, there was a wild claim that the reporter just drove into town and saw someone being injected…in the neck…with heroin while driving a car. Really. I must be totally oblivious to all the people shooting up heroin openly in their necks while driving around.
The reporters also inevitably use a picture of the Sole Choice (formerly Mitchellace) building as an example of an “abandoned factory.” It’s too bad there are 50 people working in there, they have a national marketing campaign about how it’s a shining example of American manufacturing, it houses what we believe to be the only “industrial incubator” south of I-71 in Ohio, and we just graduated our first company out of that space, a Tier-2 automotive parts supplier. There’s really good stuff going on in that building. Of course, the pictures always somehow leave out the multi-million dollar new buildings and development across the street at Appalachian Wood Floors. Coincidence, I am sure.
I recognize we have serious issues in this community, and they need serious answers. We have an issue with heroin and opioids – it is not new, nor is it uncommon. Communities across the country have very similar issues. But, I implore anyone who reads this to turn a critical eye to any of the heroin and opioid stories that regularly populate our social media. The writers have an agenda, and it is not to make this community better, it’s to drive as many clicks as possible to their articles by making them as sensational as possible. Please read these articles critically. Ask yourself, is this new information or a rehash of old? Does this article offer a new perspective that can help our community? Have I ever seen anything they are talking about? Does their data make sense? If you can’t answer most of those questions in the affirmative, then what value does the article have? Probably not a lot, which is why I want them to stop helping.
Reach Jason Kester via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.