Here’s a link to an interesting article by Scott Page at Planetizen called A Journalistic View of Cities
Scott discusses how mainstream journalists are poorly equipped to write appropriately on urban issues aside from than architecture.
I was reading the New York Times Magazine special architecture issue a few weeks ago when something jumped out at me. On the intro page to the issue of the “Mega-Megalopolis” one of the by-line says “How does an architect plan for a city with no history? Or a city that just keeps growing?” Interesting questions particularly given the fact that to charge architects with the task of planning our cities is affording too much power to a profession that simply doesn’t have it.
Nor do planners for that matter. I’ve made it no secret in this blog that cities are the product of thousands of decisions made by individuals, organizations, leaders, businesses among others. We have the opportunity to guide some of those decisions and make more informed choices but the days of Hausmann and Napoleon who transformed Paris in the span of a few decades are coming to a close. Yes, yes, I know that China and a handful of other places are building cities ridiculously fast today and I also know that starchitects are generally charged with the task of creating large master plans to guide this government-sponsored development. I think we also know how unique a situation that is. Architects are flocking to build in China and Dubai precisely because of this unique opportunity. Where else can you feel like Robert Moses or Albert Speer, able to shape a city in a single bound?
But what struck me most about the architecture issue is that the public’s perspective on cities today is written primarily by architecture critics.
What’s ironic about this is that the current identity of our profession was largely shaped by a journalist – Jane Jacobs. The Death Life of Great American Cities was read by planners and residents alike.
I agree, and most of the journalists are even more clueless when it comes to the economics of cities and the effects of planning on society as a whole.