Maybe it's because he lives here and knows the city better than most national correspondents who came only for the riots. Or, maybe it's just because Adam May is a fine TV reporter.

Maybe it's because he lives here and knows the city better than most national correspondents who came only for the riots. Or, maybe it's just because Adam May is a fine TV reporter.

But May's prime-time special, "Saving Baltimore," on Al Jazeera America at 10 p.m. Friday, tells a story that reporter after reporter from national news outlets has missed - or, worse, ignored. It's the story of people in this city, particularly in the Penn North neighborhood where Freddie Gray lived, who are trying to save Baltimore.


It's not a flashy TV story in the sense that there's a camera right in the face of angry protesters on the march or right above a building that is being looted or bursting into flames.

But there is plenty of emotion in the skillful telling of the stories in "Saving Baltimore," too. It's quieter emotion, but just as intense in its own way.

Al Jazeera made two of three segments for the 30-minute report available to be screened. The first centers on a program called "Details" that does demolition on vacant rowhouses in Baltimore.

The term used here is deconstruction, which I thought was something done in literary studies.

But all kidding aside, the distinction is important, because demolition is usually thought of as a bulldozer knocking down a building and reducing it to rubble.

The "Details" program literally takes the abandoned rowhouses apart brick by brick. It provides jobs with health care and other benefits for Baltimore residents who had found themselves locked out of the workforce because of drugs, prison or other problematic histories.

The wood, bricks and other building materials that are salvaged are resold and reused. The bricks are the biggest sellers.

So, "Details" tries to get rid of a blight that has sadly become the dominant visual image of Baltimore in national media, while it provides jobs and produces some revenue by recycling.

That would be enough to highlight the program,  but May and his team make it real and far more personal by focusing on one of the workers, Bernadette Buckson.

Listen to her as she talks about the feeling of pride she now has as she walks down the street in her hard hat.

"It's a different look that people look at me now," she says. "They see somebody who has achieved something. ... They see me with the hard hat on, and it's, 'You go girl.' That puts a smile on my face."

The second story is my favorite. It takes viewers inside the Pratt Library branch at Pennsylvania and North Avenues, Ground Zero during the riots in April. It's across the street from the CVS that burned.

May does some very nice interviewing with the director of the branch, Melanie Townsend Diggs, and the Alston family, including Jacqueline, the mother, and her two sons, Theodore and Mason.

As you listen to them and others in the segment, you come to understand how this library branch has provided a physical safe haven as well as emotional and even spiritual enrichment in a part of Baltimore where most national correspondents saw only poverty, drugs and violence.


All praise to city workers like Townsend Diggs, parents like Jacqueline Alston and young citizens like Mason and Theodore who are working to make this city and their lives better in the face of many obstacles.

And much praise, too, to May and Al Jazeera for allowing viewers to see and hear these residents mostly in their own words and through a lens that does not reduce them to one-dimensional figures in story lines constructed by editors in New York rather than the reality of the residents' lives.

In Baltimore, Al Jazeera America can be seen on Comcast 107 and Verizon Fios 114.