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CBS Calls Out Gateway Shelter on Misleading Public

CBS 46 Calls Out Gateway Center for Apparent Dishonesty


By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor
Atlanta Progressive News (February 21, 2007)

(APN) ATLANTA – Atlanta’s CBS 46 News reporter Joanna Massee called the Gateway Center out for misleading her, and indeed, the public, in what was her second report on homeless women in Atlanta and the Gateway’s mass eviction policies, which aired last week.

The Gateway Center closed the majority of its emergency mats for homeless women including women with children, and many women say they’re now being turned away, during the coldest nights of Winter, Atlanta Progressive News has reported over the last couple weeks.

Gateway Director, Vince Smith, first denied the report in Atlanta Progressive News “categorically,” after CBS 46's Massee read aloud most of the first paragraph of APN’s then-exclusive article to Smith. The paragraph said homeless women were facing uncertain futures as the Gateway Overflow prepared to abruptly close. This exchange is actually shown in the second clip which aired recently.

In the first clip, Massee asked Smith whether, if she needed a place to stay the next day, she could get a mat. Smith replied, “Of course! And sheets, and something to eat, and a smile.”

Smith added, “There seems to be some kind of... misunderstanding?”

In the second clip, however, Massee reveals she called the Gateway Center and was told the Center was not accepting any more homeless women.

Smith replied–after being caught in an apparent act of misleading CBS–that whoever said that was obviously making some kind of mistake.

(Note: The clip was only available online for about 48 hours, so, without a complete transcript, this article will have to paraphrase in some parts what was said in the CBS 46 report.)

The anchor introducing Massee’s second report noted homeless women were being turned away from a local homeless shelter after promising CBS 46 that “no one would be left stranded.”

In Massee’s second report, she told Smith, “Some people feel that you lied.” Smith doesn’t appear to say anything in response to that. Massee later says Smith replied that no one has brought that issue to his attention. This is a similar tactic he used with APN when he said no one brought to his attention the fact that women were saying they were being kicked out.

Previously, Smith refused to promise APN he would find placements, or else continue to provide mats, for the over 100 women who had been staying there a few weeks ago. Smith also refused to promise that women who needed a place to sleep in the future would be able to get a mat. He kept repeating the vague line “We won’t leave anybody stranded,” in response to our specific questions.

That’s why we found it strange at the time when he promised Massee she could have a place to stay; because we expected it to close, and for the most part, it did.

APN has documented in two recent articles the winding down of the Gateway Overflow, the fact that many women were placed in short-term solutions which may already be ending, the distressing way in which it was carried out for the women who often didn’t know where they were being taken, and the fact that Gateway was denying the entire thing the whole time.

Gateway apparently decided to keep about 10 mats instead of none after weeks of pressure by APN, WRFG, CBS 46, and advocates.

The Gateway Center is Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s primary response to ending chronic homelessness in Atlanta in ten years, a plan which is already four years in progress.

It is rare for a corporate media agency to call out people in powerful positions when they appear to be lying.

If more members of the media began to hold people in power accountable for the statements they make more often–like CBS 46's Joanna Massee has done–we would live in a fundamentally different country today.

*************

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is News Editor of Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

Syndication policy:

This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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