Comments on: Column: History Repeats at it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Kai Petainen Kai Petainen Tue, 05 Apr 2011 02:38:29 +0000 I’m switching to the Ann Arbor Chronicle. I just posted something on Ann, only to have it censored. The discussion was related to UofM DPS and how there was a delay in sending out a notification on the gun incident at the chemistry school.


I was trying to add a note about a topic that I thought had tied into the subject. I wanted to give a first-hand example of an incident that I saw, whereby the UofM DPS did not issue a health/safety notice. Once it was censored, I started browsing around the site, looking for ‘FOIA Friday’ only to realize that Ed V. was gone. He had just written a series of FOIA articles and he did outstanding work. Coincidently, he is no longer there.

In his last FOIA article, I made this comment to Ed… “i’d have to wonder how many people you upset/annoy when pursuing FOIAs, or talking about them?”. i wasn’t mad at him, but looking at the political environment in ann arbor, i had to wonder if there were people who secretly hated him. thinking back, i think he pissed someone off and was let go for political reasons, as his writing skills/investigations into FOIA were factually beyond many articles on the website. ed did real journalism, and he wasn’t afraid to ask questions. ed, you’re a brilliant writer, don’t give up on foias and writing. pursue your passion and your dream. when you’re silenced, i’d think you were onto something. as for what did ann arbor censor me on, it was this comment on the dps. to clarify my thoughts further, i have added [....] statements.

“not everything is always reported. in certain cases (not all) to find out what happens, you have to file foia requests, because they won’t willfully tell you details unless you do.

[when the spill happened, I was told on the phone from the DPS that it was a weedwacker spill (I saw the spill with my own eyes). I had to file a FOIA request from the AAFD to find out that phosphoric acid was listed in the report]

when the oil spill happened in the river, the public was never notified of a possible environmental or health hazard.

[true. the uofm dps website did not list the spill. those boating in the huron river were not notified of the spill either, but the attendees that i spoke with at both liveries knew of the spill and were not notifying patrons of the spill that happened that week. i could still smell the spill along the river]

public safety is #1?

[that's not an accusation, that is a question]

remember, the petroleum covered the river from the hospital to gallup

[booms were setup at the hospital outfall and at gallup. at my vantage point it covered the width of the river for hours]

and the AAFD ran out of equipment to fight it

[true. according to the AAFD report, they requested more equipment, but were unable to get it.]

(this was a big spill for this area)…

[personal opinion, i have not witnessed a larger spill]

and the first tests said that it was 88% confidence phosphoric acid.

[true. aafd report. plus, on a AAFD computer monitor, I thought I read 88% phosphoric acid.]

so, we have an initial report of a phosphoric acid spill and the public was NOT notified — but that same week people are canoeing through it and i could still smell the oil. i saw a dog in the arb, drinking the oil on the day it spilled. dps never listed that event on their website.

[i witnessed this]

when i asked dps why it wasn’t listed, they told me that they didn’t have the coding in place to put it on their website.

[dps told me this, which means that events can happen without being notified, as they don't have all the codes on their website]

and according to what the dnr told me, when there is a phosphroic acid/oil spill on the huron river, the uofm doesn’t have to report it.

[true. i tried contacting the dnr and the epa about it, the dnr told me this... "There are no obligations for U of M to make public notice for an incident like this". i was also told on the phone that the uofm is good at policing themselves, so they wouldn't be coming here. btw, many outfalls flowing from uofm are under uofm territory]

so i know of at least 1 case, where the public was not fully informed by the UofM DPS of a potential health hazard.

[unless the dps is making the statement that it is oky to spill oil in a river and it is ok? and it is ok if the huron river provides some of our drinking water]

nor was the cased solved as they failed at solving that crime.

[if it wasn't a permit dumping, or an accident, then it must be a crime?]

[this question relates to how there was a delay between the gun incident and the email that was sent out alerting people about it]

with this current incident, it provokes the questions: why was there a delay between the incident and the email that was sent out? I assume this isn’t true, but did someone interfere in delaying that message? i live in this area and i’d like to know the answer.”

By: CASnyder CASnyder Sat, 26 Mar 2011 23:21:05 +0000 My spouse has lived more than half a century in the AA area, having been born here, I’m in my 2nd decade of calling this county home, so we remember & grieve the AA News of previous decades – not the printed paper, but the quality of the content. The growth of internet access and use could have been an opportunity for the AA News to cut a lot of the fixed cost of newspaper circulation and focus resources on maintaining quality content, but it seems to have gone the other direction and was cutting their best staff, or limiting their time per story, while increasing the space given over to advertisements. That was when we stopped subscribing – because we felt guilty about supporting a massive consumption of trees for the printing of more and more advertisements for things we don’t use or want, and less and less real thought provoking content with each passing week.

We tried an introductory subscription to’s newspaper when it first came out, but not only was the content a lot worse than the old AA News, but their distribution & billing departments were so disorganized that despite weekly complaints, it was months before we got our first copy of the newspaper, and we still had to make repeated calls to billing to explain that they couldn’t start billing us for what they’d never delivered. Needless to say, we didn’t renew.

This winter we’d been watching the home of out-of-town friends who have subscriptions to both’s newspaper & A2journal, so I’ve been skimming both those papers before recycling the colored ads (more than half the paper by weight) and saving the B&W newsprint sections for compostable dropcloths & packaging food in our root cellar.

The quality of the content is even worse than it was during the introductory subscription – a recent example of the lack of the most basic reporting in the A2 Journal was a full page given over to the new Ford Focus 2012, which at first glance looked promising with some numbers about improvements made in air-streaming the vehicle. But by the time I reached the end, I was mad, because it was clearly an uneditted press release from the manufacturer that deliberately neglected to give me the crucial mpg efficiency numbers that would allow me to compare its performance to other vehicles out there.

I expect news outlets to do critical reporting, in their articles, not just reprint marketing press releases from corporations and try to charge readers for that as if it were news, plus misleading a lot of readers who weren’t taught critical thinking & who absorb what they read as God’s truth, due to the newspaper’s failure to clearly differentiate between press releases and news articles. 15 seconds on the internet gave me the truth on the Ford Focus 2012, which is there are competitors with mpg as good or better for less $ – surely the editor who chose to print that piece could have done the same to present the whole truth if news was the focus of the publication, but clearly there is more benefit to serving as a corporate media outlet.

From what I can see, the paper is not doing much better than the A2 Journal on actual reporting (sounds like their most recent cuts took away much of what was of any interest to me), but the AA Chronicle seems to be a cut above the other local news options, as is the AA Observer & the Detroit Free Press, all of which do in depth, thought-provoking articles.

Perhaps we need a Community Supported Newsfeed model similar to the CSAgriculture model, where we could pre-pay funds into a single on-line personal news account that could disperse them out to any participating local reporters (based on our pay-per-view choices). I’d like to receive a single daily e-mail listing available articles to chose from with a brief synopsis and the authors name, and low-cost pay-per view links for each. Even better if the articles had feedback links for ratings & comments that were public as this is.

I wouldn’t even mind if such a news service had some advertisements, especially if they were low-key, text-only, and responsive to your interest patterns, the way ads on G-mail are – those are about the only ads pushed at me that I respond to these days. All my other purchases are from my own searches (local phone-book & internet) when I need something. I’m glad to see the former AA news reporters & editors like Mary Morgan innovating with on-line news offerings – it makes me hopeful for our hometown reporting talent and I think I’ll go subscribe to her RSS feed, which will be the first time I’ve ever subscribed to any RSS feed. Keep up the good work.

By: Wenalway Wenalway Fri, 18 Mar 2011 01:37:30 +0000 Post 62 is a prime example of the problem in Ann Arbor today.

We have a poster critical of the former print product, but then that poster goes on to praise the now-defunct blogging portion of — which was accessed for free, of course. (For those who want to screech about the costs of Internet service, electricity, etc., please review Economics 101.)

Yet no one is saddened by the layoffs of several content providers.

Strange. Very strange.

By: Tran Longmoore Tran Longmoore Thu, 17 Mar 2011 18:40:35 +0000 Ann Arbor can support a daily newspaper. The company decided it didn’t want a newspaper and it’s not easy for to step and launch an entire news organization.
I believe the Ann Arbor News stretched too far, trying to cover Livingston and western Wayne when it should have been happy to be a great newspaper covering Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.
But the big problem was Mlive.
The Internet didn’t kill newspapers. Newspaper companies that didn’t know to use the Internet killed newspapers. I found myself coming home from work, reading the Ann Arbor News and realizing I had read all the local news already on Mlive. At one point, I wrote a letter to the editor, asking them to stop posting their news on Mlive, because I feared it would kill their product. I’m not sure if it was ever published, because after reading all the news on Mlive, there were many days when newspaper never came out of the plastic bag.
As long as all that local information was out there on the Internet for free, there was no incentive to buy a newspaper. It’s like spending all this money to keep the lights on, pay your employees and purchase equipment for your donut shop, but instead of charging people for donuts, you give them away at a stand in front of your bakery. Who didn’t see the problem there?
Still, I think it’s clear that newspapers are eventually going away. Most people I know in the news business rarely read newspapers anymore.
As for, I think it’s a solid local news organization and I hope it succeeds. The cuts are bad news for people who want to be be informed. And I’ll miss Ed’s work. On many occasions I’d hear or see something out of the ordinary, google it, and land on Ed’s blog. And if he didn’t have the answer, one of his readers did.

By: Doug Fisher Doug Fisher Wed, 16 Mar 2011 20:36:19 +0000 Thanks, Mary. Another great piece on the demise of local news. At least someone covers it.

By: Duane Collicott Duane Collicott Wed, 16 Mar 2011 15:48:12 +0000 Carl (57) – Lucy Ann is very good at playing devil’s advocate. That question was an actual question: a request for information from the other person – not an expression her own opinion. I have had several interviews with her for my annual event, and each time she asked the perfect questions that resulted in my answer containing useful and relevant information. She’s a pro.

By: EyeheartA2 EyeheartA2 Wed, 16 Mar 2011 01:04:56 +0000 Just found this out tonight.

Ed, I appreciated the ride along last summer, if you remember. Best of luck in the future. You seem like a guy who lands on his feet.

By: Carl Carl Tue, 15 Mar 2011 15:16:37 +0000 @Matt Roush

Before there was Craig’s List – Monster and CareerBuilder took the first shots at killing print! There was a time when one grabbed the Sunday classifieds when looking for a job – that changed 10 years or so ago and print never really understood how to deal with it.

Then Craig’s List took over about 5-6 years ago …

Basically, I call the reason for the demise of print “Craig’s Monster”

By: Carl Carl Tue, 15 Mar 2011 15:04:01 +0000 Lucy Ann was playing Devils Advocate or is clueless – there is a HUGE difference between news organizations and private businesses and news orgs need to be even more transparent – not less! If I read someone every day and see their picture (like did) and then boom, they are gone, it needs to be addressed as to why they are gone. If there are massive layoffs, the story becomes even bigger.

Why – because newspaper (and news people) are a public trust and part of the community – even though they are private workers! This has been the way for 250 years!

The fact the Chronicle is covering this tells me its news – and that, for all its years of management experience, can’t even understand how to get in front of a story and them move on …
If I turned on the TV and there was no Devin Scillian, or Diana Lewis, or Carmen Harlen and no comment about why they were not there – its a BIG deal! Imagine if Katie Couric was gone … even Regis!

If I wake up and there is no Paul W. Smith or heck, even Howard Stern, ITS NEWS.

And one has to only peruse a news publication to see how they cover the comings and goings of CEOs and executives – they cover it cause its NEWS! is flawed – we all know that. But most of us are critical because we actually want it to succeed and recognize the need for local news…

But if cannot recognize what we all can, how can they possibly have a chance to survive?

By: Brian Reynolds Brian Reynolds Tue, 15 Mar 2011 14:58:36 +0000 Mary,

Nice work on this story. I feel for all of those who were betrayed by management who continue to hold their (much higher paid) jobs. I don’t know all of the 14 who were laid off, but the 3 former News employees I do know sure did not deserve their fate. All are outstanding people, dedicated workers, and professional journalist who worked hard for their employer and community. Their reward is a shove out the door. Did Matt Kraner, Laurel Champion or Tony Dearing take a pay cut or make any other concessions that might have saved some or all of those from being laid off? Very doubtful. I still have friends who so far have kept their jobs at and wish them the best of luck during this stressful time. I don’t want to fail, but I think it will unless new management is brought in to replace the incompetent three mentioned above.