Monday, March 30, 2009

"Frontline" producer on Charlotte: You're optimistic (and kind of defensive)

Ofra Bikel is a producer, director and writer for the PBS show "Frontline." She is not, she says, an economist.

Bikel was in Charlotte earlier this month interviewing community and business leaders for a report on the city that "Frontline" hopes to air this spring. Among the questions she's asked is this: How does Charlotte reimagine its economic future?

As we wrote earlier, it's a question that presumes we might have some reimagining to do, given the banking trouble that's hit Charlotte so bluntly. Will our future be different than the previous two decades of bank-aided prosperity?

Bikel called today, however, to say she has little interest in predicting how Charlotte's economic landscape might someday look. Her aim, at least initially, was to report on the impact the financial crisis has had on people, and she thought Charlotte offered a more intimate connection between banks and citizens than New York, the nation's biggest banking city.

"It's so involved in the lives of people (in Charlotte)," she says. "This is what I hope the show is going to be about."

What has she seen thus far? First, that we're a little defensive about the banks.

Actually, not just a little defensive.

"The town is very defensive about the banks," she says. "I hear a lot of people saying, 'We have a lot of other industries.' Of course you have."

She has, however, seen an outlook here that's more difficult to find in New York. "I think Charlotteans take it better than the people in New York," she says. "They're very optimistic."

That might be, she speculates, a factor of churches here helping more people sort through their difficulties. But she is unsure.

"I'm a little perplexed, to tell the truth," she says. "I'm not quite sure what to make of it."

That's why she'll be returning later this month to conduct more interviews and begin shooting.

We'll tell you what we hear.

24 comments:

BobcatsFan89 said...

This is really interesting. Keep posting updates.

Anonymous said...

We're a little odd and everyone knows it. Keep Charlotte weird!

Rick said...

Imagine that - a member of the liberal media sees people with faith and is confused and befuddled that it would make a positive difference in their lives during hard times.

I'm shocked I tell you! Simply shocked!!!

Anonymous said...

She didn't find the doom and gloom she was hoping for. That's why she is comming back.

Justin Ritchie said...

I seem to notice that most people are appreciative of what the financial sector has done for this community but realize the advantage of moving on.

New York tends to cluster more neurotic people than Charlotte. So the average NYC resident might be perplexed/surprised at the attitudes of Charlotteans.

Additionally, I don't think the people in this area are quite as 'on edge' as the people in NYC.

I'm not sure if I would place the explanation as to why this is solely on religion. However, studies have tended to show that religious people are happier than non-religious people.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110010672

Anonymous said...

Why does Rick have to conclude that the producer's surprise must relate to being liberal and unfamiliar with people of faith? Why jump to such a cynical and xenophobic conclusion? Whether a person of faith or not, it's nice that she's taking the time to learn more and potentially sharing with others the positive impacts that church-based communities can have (when they're not seeking to be devisive).

Anonymous said...

Some might also say Charlotteans have their own special kind of state of denial. (Hence the defensiveness)

Anonymous said...

Rick,
Please go away. You are crazy. Seriously. Or dangerously stupid. Or both.

Anonymous said...

Why not have her tell us how "they do it up north."

Better yet why not have her ask Anthony how he plans to change the city.

TheWizard said...

Frontline is one of the best television programs out there; they go very in depth but keep it interesting and each time I watch I truly learn something. The show has substance.

I am very interested to see this one; keep us updated.

Anonymous said...

In a word: !!FAITH!!

...with a pinch or two of good old fashioned southern fried backbone thrown in!

Thanks for posting this article!

Also, !!THANK YOU!! to the Frontline producer for realizing that the blood that beats within Charlotte's heart is filled with a heck of a lot more "grit" that "grime"!

I look forward to seeing more on this topic!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with one of the previous anonymous. There is a great deal of denial especially when it comes to what runs this city. People can say all they want that there is more than banking but there really isnt. Name another industry in this city that is a major player. Dont worry I will wait. And the companies that most would say are not even in Charlotte such as Lowe's, Family Dollar, Muzak, and now Continental Tire. People need not take a defensive approach or denial to this show and what they say about us. Rather we need to be proactive and push our government to attrach other businesses besides banking (such as the failing GMAC that for some reason people are excited about). We need to press our leaders to help sustain local businesses and help them grow while attracting companies that will diversify our industries.

Anonymous said...

well...i'm not someone that's particularly religious...nor am i someone who works for a bank...but i may be optimistic..

so i don't think its as one dimensional as is suggested above..

ha ha...don't keep me posted, i'm really not that interested in the silliness.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what others think of Charlotte. It's this attitude that will never allow us to be "world class". Let's work hard at being the best Charlotte, not an imitation of another city.

Anonymous said...

"People can say all they want that there is more than banking but there really isnt. Name another industry in this city that is a major player."

Are you serious? You have your head in the sand if you really believe Charlotte has no other industry to lean on. If we didn't the city would have already imploded, which it hasn't.

Anonymous said...

Look---let's face it---Charlotte is NOT NY--NY will ALWAYS be a bigger banking town---no doubt about it---if you want to make big money--you can still make more in NY---will alwys be that way--but if you have family and want a life---you choose Charlotte---Charlotte IS a bit overly confident---but si what? My concern is the tax paying citizens who are not leaning on local leaders more to deal with aging infrastructure and sprawl to put all those transplants in homes---the tax paying citizens and city leaders are in denial---flat tax base plus more people moving here to burden the system---

Anonymous said...

Lets face i Textiles, furniture and tobacco have been pulled from the area , now the BANKS are going Bye - bye face it Charlotte is in deep trouble with this notion. And nothing coming in equals mounds of People in soup lines . The Government knows about all this and wants the city rubbed out , why , because of all the racism going on here.

Anonymous said...

Its funny how people that go to church in Charlotte label Charlotte as a "church-based" community. Dont include me in your house of greed. Its not the church thats doing good things, its people. And not all good people go to church..:-)

Anonymous said...

Face it the city is over with ; Frontline has heard its toast here and is going to docu drama everything. The tears the pain that comes with massive layoffs coming in the future. Like Michael Moores did Detroit Frontline is going to ruin us with gloom and doom storied; Ill tell you my SPANISH and GINGO freinds . The Government has had spies living here and found out what I have gangs out the ass , teeror attacks about to happen on the BANKs and many other shenanigans goin on ; Organozed crime runniong out of the front doors of business and prostitution coming out of ying yang. I have heard this is a ONZI city and State Governmnet ran by the British empire and other foriegn groups.

Anonymous said...

Face it PETER the State of N.C. has lost 20 billion dollars from it State Pension fund and more losses coming . The Pension fund had invested billions in GM stock and Wachovia , the Wachovia part I understand but GM who's watching the fort.

Anonymous said...

House prices will fall about %50 pecent now with the news of Bnaks leaving. And why is frontline doing s , I'll tell you they are here to finish us off.

Anonymous said...

If the Frontline chick wants some doom and gloom, perhaps she should read some of the blogs on this paper. There are enough people banking on failure here.

Anonymous said...

It cracks me up how liberals hate the "church based" label. It's true, lots of good people don't go to church. But everytime i volunteered for Habitat For Humanity there was at least one church group there. When I went to a local soup kitchen/homeless shelter there were church groups there!! If you choose not to attend church that's fine. BUT don't deny the impact our local churches have on this great community through cash donations and volunteerism. BTW, God Bless You All.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know if she is trying to do what Michael Moore did brillantly when he made his first documentary about Flint, MI when the plant closed there, having Penske on and questioning why in the world the company decided to take out the only real company that employed the majority of the adults in the city. I lived in Michigan then, and the place went to nothing! There were no other jobs other than GM. The people's values of homes drastically went down, crime spread, it was a disaster. Is she coming here to do a commentary to compare the "beginning of the end" of the financial sector that Charlotte has become. Is this her way of becoming a Michael Moore documentary maker!