A Jan. 6, posting on cbslocal.com features a character that rarely has a starring role in most city-wide media reports – Austin’s good side.

Mason Johnson, a CBSChicago.com web content producer, puts Austin’s reputation for crime into some perspective while also touting some of its most overlooked assets.

“One of Chicago’s largest communities, Austin is notorious for having more homicides than any other Chicago community area, the sole fact most outsiders know about the neighborhood,” he writes.

But this would only be half the story, Mason insists.

“Austin has seen progress when it comes to violence,” he notes. “Looking at a span of 16 years, things have improved. Comparing 1998 to 2013 shows that homicides in Austin have been cut in half—slightly better than the percent decrease of the city as a whole.

“Also, to judge Austin by its total number of homicides is misguided. When looking at Austni’s homicide rate per 100,000 people, which factors Austin’s 98,514 residents into the equation – more than any other community area in Chicago – things look drastically different. Austin may have had the most homicides in 2013, but its homicide rate for 2013 shows a different picture – there were 19 neighborhoods with rates that were higher.”

Austin, Mason rightly points out, is more than crime. It’s Serrell’s Finer Foods. It’s MacArthur’s Restaurant. It’s dynamic nonprofits such as Austin Coming Together and Kidz Express. Mason finds room to shine a glimmer of light on them all.

And the more light that is focused on these often hidden treasures, the better outsiders can see what Austin residents and activists and workers like Darnell Shields already know with their eyes closed.

“The people in Austin are hardworking middle class [people] who take pride in being resilient survivors,” Shields told Mason.

And Mason listened. Now, if more major media outlets do the same …

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com