NBC's Camden: Same old story?

The national news media are spotlighting Camden again, and so far the view looks rather familiar.

The ruined row house panoramas as seen from a patrol car;  the Walt Whitman "city invincible" verse no journalist can resist; the obligatory interview with Msgr. Michael Doyle...all can be found in NBC's special report about America's (choose your favorite un-superlative) city.

Brian Williams launched the occasional series Thursday during the NBC Nightly News (link to the clip here); Camden also will be featured on the Rock Center with Brian Williams show at 10 p.m. Friday. 

With all due respect to the estimable Mr. Williams, and in particular, to Msgr. Doyle -- without whose  decades of work  the city would be unimaginably worse -- I question the value of yet another cinematic narrative about Camden's ills.

I'm not alone; in a pre-dawn Facebook exchange, Rev. Jeff Putthoff, of the city's Hopeworks youth development program,  suggests the media ought to shift its focus.

Healing Camden "requires us to think differently," he tells me. "We need to think new before we do new...the issue (is) we continue to do the old in new way." He describes events like the upcoming Camden Trauma Summit as an effort to  look behind and beyond the woeful crime statistics to explore the malevolent impact of poverty on human beings.
And Putthoff wonders what happens to people to make criminal behavior seem like something useful. A switch like that "is powerful... and also quite disturbing," he says.