I have a new piece up at A2Politico that looks further at the Detroit Newspaper blackout of the gigantic union rally last weekend.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
Bill Moyers once said, “There is no more important struggle for American democracy than ensuring a diverse, independent and free media. Free Press is at the heart of that struggle.” In Michigan right now, we are in an epic battle over what we value as Michiganders. Where we spend our tax money is a statement about where our priorities are. 6,000 people showed up on a sunny spring day to stand for the public education of our children and its importance to the future of our state. On the other side of the debate stand the Republicans for whom corporate profits are a higher priority.
No matter what side of this issue you stand on, clearly a massive protest demonstration by thousands of citizens is news. News that should be reported with as much fanfare as news about what our Legislators and Governor are doing is reported. We need a strong, diverse and independent media. Without it, we will have an poorly-informed citizenry and effective democracy is not possible. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News owe the people of Michigan an apology and, more importantly, they owe us better reporting. Their lack of coverage of this event is an implicit, if not explicit “taking of sides” on the issue of education funding.
Read the full piece HERE. In it, you’ll see some responses I received from the Free Press via Twitter.
The piece, which was just published last evening, has had a remarkable impact, going somewhat viral on Facebook. It also prompted what I consider to be a laughably lame response from the Politics & Government Editor at the Detroit News:
May 26, 2011 – 10:46 pm
I emailed both the Freep and the News asking “where’s the news?”. I got no response from the Freep, but the News wrote the following:
We don’t publish a newspaper on Sundays so you’d have to check the Sunday Free Press to see if they had a story. I’m not sure if they did. Since we don’t have a Sunday paper we didn’t send a reporter to the event and would have relied on the Associated Press to cover it. By Monday, it’s an old story, so I’m guessing that’s the reason you didn’t see an item in this morning’s paper.
We do try to update our Web site all day Saturday with breaking news, however. Unfortunately, AP didn’t send their first story on the protests until just before 9:30 p.m. We should have posted that story on our Web site Saturday night or even Sunday morning, but I can’t tell you why we didn’t since those who work Saturday night at not her today. Their weekly shifts usually go from Tuesday through Saturday or Wednesday through Sunday.
We have covered many of the protests in Lansing over the past few months on both sides of the issue, so we certainly have let our readers know there is discontent over and support for Gov. Snyder’s plans and those of the Legislature. We’ll continue to monitor those events as they come up and will staff them when possible.
Thank you for your questions and I hope I’ve answered them to your satisfaction.
Politics and Government Editor
The Detroit News
He is correct in one thing: I made a mistake when I said the News and Free Press put out a joint Sunday paper. This was once the case but is no longer true.
On May 7, 2006, the Free Press resumed publication of its own Sunday edition, without any content from the News. A quirk in the operating agreement, however, allows the News to continue printing its editorial page in the Sunday Free Press.
I guess if you want to appear in the Detroit News print edition, don’t make/create news on, you know, Saturday. And if you do and they don’t cover your story on their website, don’t blame the Politics and Government Editor. He doesn’t work weekends.