The Chronicles of American Cities: Media are catching on

Time magazine once called Neal Peirce "the only national chronicler of grass-roots America." 

The author of 12 books including his latest, "Citistates: How Urban America Can Prosper in a Competitive World," has been examining the urban landscape for about 50 years. 

And now that the nation is (hopefully) post recession, post foreclosure crisis and post real estate crisis, other media are beginning to catch on to what Peirce has been covering for decades. They are examining in far greater detail the livability and transformation of urban communities, as well as those businesses and organizations that are part of the resurgence.

Changes in media coverage tend to follow rather than lead social change. Many of our nation’s city’s hit their low point in the 70’s and 80’s, Peirce said when we met recently. But now, “center cities have come back. Young professionals have moved in, and there has been a lot of private sector investment.”

 “Urban schools are improving. They are not quite as strong an undertow,” he said. “Newspapers and the media are covering cities more positively now.”

As part of his efforts to chronicle urban evolution, the Washington, D.C., journalist has created the Citistates Group, “a network of journalists, speakers and civic leaders focused on building competitive, equitable and sustainable 21st century cities and metropolitan regions.”

The organization includes, which produces coverage focused on modern urban challenges., including Peirce's regular column syndicated by the Washington Post Writer Group, is in high demand.

At Bloomberg Business News, journalists are increasingly being assigned to cover communities across the country. In late 2010, Bloomberg recruited former Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg to bolster community coverage in the West.

Competitor Thomson Reuters has reassigned reporters from business to municipal areas of coverage responsibility. regularly features the blog posts of Joel Kotkin, author, Distinguished Presidential Fellow at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and an adjunct Fellow at the Legatum Institute in London, UK.

Richard Florida,  author of the global best-seller The Rise of the Creative Class and Who's Your City?, is consistently quoted in media on trends impacting the nation’s communities. The self-described urbanist has more than 107,000 Twitter followers (@Richard_Florida).

It is encouraging to see the national media covering our communities this way, don't you think?

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