The Baltimore Sun: Caring about Mike’s hometown and using TV to make a difference

Mike Rowe describes his CNN series, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” as “a light-hearted show on a serious network.”

But this season, which starts at 10 p.m. Sunday, he’s going to take on a very serious topic: Baltimore’s media image following the violence in April after the death of Freddie Gray.

Rowe, who was born and raised in Baltimore, has been talking about the city’s image to me and thousands of other people in social media since he got the CNN job two years ago. An exchange he had with David Simon on the impact of images in the series Simon created, HBO’s “The Wire,” generated online heat last year.

But like so many things in and about Baltimore that changed after the two nights of violence in April, Rowe’s plan to produce a soft and light segment on the city shifted dramatically. And his account of that change in a Sun interview offers a window into the complicated nature of how a city’s image is constructed.

The piece on Baltimore that Rowe had in the works for Season 2 of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” featured Allan Charles, chairman and creative director of the TBC advertising agency, whom he characterizes as an “old friend,” and Tom Noonan, CEO of Visit Baltimore, the nonprofit that markets the city. Rowe was going to show Charles running a “very traditional and deliberate” PR campaign for Visit Baltimore on behalf of the city.

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