In this month known for hosting Valentine’s Day, I hereby throw down my heart-shaped bouquet of rose-petal potpourri and demand that our one and only major daily newspaper (a.k.a the Dallas Morning News) start showing Lake Highlands some love. The frequency and relentlessness of their negative reporting has cast aspersions upon, and sullied the reputation of, our community. And when someone starts throwing around terms like “aspersions” and “sullied”, you know that something’s up.
Several months ago, I noticed a story in the paper one day about one of the many stories describing man’s inhumanity to man under a caption in big, bold type — “Lake Highlands”. I was instantly embarrassed and thought what a horrible way for our community to be spotlighted in the paper. And then, I started noticing that almost every time Lake Highlands was mentioned by name in the paper, it was to highlight another crime du jour. I remembered thinking to myself that if a visitor or transplant to Dallas didn’t know any better, his unavoidable impression would have to be to believe that Lake Highlands is the part of Dallas you should consciously avoid.
As any loyal Lake Highlander would be, I became annoyed with the Morning News (for yet one more reason), and decided I would begin monitoring this practice a little more intentionally. And, of course, when it comes to annoying practices, the News did not disappoint.
In September, the paper ran a story under the “Lake Highlands” heading entitled “Art Institute Mourns Student Found Slain”. The victim was a student at the Art Institute of Dallas but was murdered in her apartment located at Greenville and Forest. The story includes the following delightful Chamber-of-Commerce description: “Since January, police have responded to dozens of calls in the area, including robberies, assaults and burglaries, according to Dallas police reports.”
So, y’all come visit us real soon!
In October, the News ran this monthly love note under the big, bold heading “Lake Highlands”: “Police Search for Backyard Flasher”. The story describes a serial flasher, whose indecent exposures date back to 2005. The Dallas Police corporal is quoted: “We would like to catch him before it escalates into something worse …” So, welcome to family-friendly Lake Highlands!
In November (leading me to believe the News must have a monthly quota requirement for abusing Lake Highlands), this “Lake Highlands”- headed story appeared: “Man Held in Stabbing of Disabled Neighbor”. Another apartment crime, man stabs another man with screwdriver because he won’t give him money for a beer, painting yet another attractive picture of our community.
Admittedly, these are all news stories, so perhaps there is no way to avoid having to read about them. But my real ax to grind with the paper is: 1) Why do you have to label these stories with the “Lake Highlands” heading? And 2) If you feel compelled to identify these kinds of stories as having occurred in Lake Highlands, how about running some positive stories about Lake Highlands, too?
Let me, at this point, once again be politically incorrect and state the painfully obvious. Lake Highlands has been saddled with much more than its fair share of apartments, compared to the rest of the city. The crime problem in Lake Highlands is directly related to the concentration of apartments. The No. 1 crime area in the city is Greenville-Park — where there are lots of apartments. The No. 2 crime area is Forest-Audelia — where there are lots of apartments. When I witnessed a purse-snatching at the old Drug Emporium years ago, the police traced the suspect back to the apartments at Walnut Hill-Audelia and police told me that they trace a lot of crime back to those apartments. Does anyone doubt that having lots of apartments breeds having lots of crime? If so, please stand by for more hope and change …
But more to the point of the News’ coverage of Lake Highlands — Lake Highlands is much more than apartments and crime. In fact, we are primarily a community of nice, single-family homes, where property values continue to rise, even during a pronounced recession. We are a community that still revolves around a very successful high school, with a longstanding reputation of producing champions. We are a community that could very well be mistaken as a small town with the daily contributions of internal support manifested by organizations like the Lake Highlands Exchange Club and Lake Highlands Women’s League. We are a community pursuing our own progress through efforts like the Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association, representing all of the HOAs in Lake Highlands, bringing about exciting developments like the new Walmart at Forest-Abrams, the new Sam’s/Walmart/Penney’s complex at Northwest Highway-Skillman, and the signature Town Center at Walnut Hill-Skillman.
So, come on, Dallas Morning News; don’t be the Dallas Morning Blues when it comes to Lake Highlands. In fairness, the News did run a “Lake Highlands” story after Christmas about the peacocks in the neighborhood behind Flagpole Hill. I think it was supposed to come across as complimentary, but it described peacocks “sounding like helicopters”, “screeching” louder and longer than dogs, and leaving their “Hershey’s Kisses” all over the sidewalks.
Sounds like those neighbors need to protect their sidewalks with a little newspaper.