Comments on: Milestone: Integrity – and a Sense of Place it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Alan Goldsmith Alan Goldsmith Wed, 27 Jun 2012 21:43:02 +0000 “Let us know if the Associated Press responds about pulling the award, since the original piece is littered with errors and not deserving of any such honor.”

Any word on whether the award was returned yet or if the Associated Press disqualified the article and gave the honor to the next reporter on the nominations list? Just curious.

By: grace singleton grace singleton Tue, 12 Jun 2012 23:34:10 +0000 I’m just reading this as well & want to say that I so agree with your opinion- I certainly feel that: “fatigue has set in, along with a sense that it’s not worth the energy to rehash these things”

but I also am VERY worried about the fact that: “there’s a risk that a funhouse-mirror version of reality will become accepted as accurate, and could inappropriately influence public policy in a way that causes long-term damage to this community. That’s unacceptable.”

thank you to Mary & Dave & everyone at the Chronicle for standing up for our community and having such a strong sense of integrity and pride in the work you do. It is very appreciated in the community.

By: Ruth Kraut Ruth Kraut Tue, 12 Jun 2012 18:49:02 +0000 Here is an article from the Atlantic that has a similar argument to Mary’s: [link]

By: John John Mon, 11 Jun 2012 00:41:58 +0000 I feel like a guest late for the June garden party. Bees dance around a table crowded with half-filled glasses, and fading voices echo around a corner of the house. But let me sit a moment and offer a thought.

In a free society journalism exists because the public needs information. Because of this need, and because a free society opens a space in the public square, journalism is a business. The gutting of the Times-Picayune, like the emergence of, is a business decision. But let’s not pretend that this decision serves the public interest.

The closing of Louisiana’s great daily newspaper and its replacement with an online palliative–particularly if it proves to be as insipid, uninspiring, and bereft of even modest journalistic accomplishment as its Ann Arbor cousin–is surely being welcomed with cheers and toasts by the political parasites and corporate crooks that long have made Louisiana such astonishingly rich source material for ambitious young journalists. The language loses too. Among the Times-Picayune’s many outstanding journalists was William Faulkner. The paper afforded them time to descend into clubhouses, bars, restaurants, stews, and music halls of the city and to rise again to the empty page to refine their craft and to hold the rascals’ feet to the fire. That’s local reporting and community engagement. Is all lost? Not so. Very good journalists abound. There are many important and exciting experiments to keep journalism closely tethered to its principal mission–to serve the public interest. The Chronicle is one of these. ProPublica is another. There’s a long and growing list. And some of the writing is pretty good. I hope that one or more of these experiments will take over where the Times-Picayune has left off. The news desert here in Michigan, however, makes me less than optimistic.

By: Luis Vazquez Luis Vazquez Thu, 07 Jun 2012 13:55:12 +0000 The “some kind of bone” in the photo of Mary Morgan’s award is a vertebra, otherwise known as “spine” or “backbone”. Thanks for taking to task.

Regarding the comments on, look at how the Detroit News and Freepress are handling their comments – one has to sign in using Facebook, and although some people are able to hide behind some form of anonymity by using a derived name on Facebook, most of the commenters are identified. I think that changes the nature of peoples’ comments, with not as much snarkiness.

By: Rod Johnson Rod Johnson Wed, 06 Jun 2012 20:16:48 +0000 If this article is a “flamethrower,”, it’s the fairest and most thoughtful one I’ve ever seen. Compared to much of the criticism of in its own comments, it’s a love letter.

By: Mary Morgan Mary Morgan Wed, 06 Jun 2012 20:00:44 +0000 Jim, thanks for your comment. There’s no question that The Chronicle is supported with advertising and subscription dollars – we’re grateful for that, because it allows us to pursue our particular journalistic mission. We don’t have some secret benefactor or personal wealth to support what we do. As one of our readers/subscribers pointed out in an earlier comment, one purpose of these monthly milestone columns is to highlight our work and remind people that yes, we do need financial support. We earn our livelihood off of this publication, and work long hours to do so.

But I do take issue with the implication that because the column is part of our regular monthly appeal, the merit of the criticism levied against is somehow diluted.

The argument seems to be that because The Chronicle might compete for readers and advertisers, it necessarily undercuts the merits of any criticism we make of In this case, the undeniable mistake we highlighted was finally admitted by Tony Dearing. Yet he wrote a column that was misleading about the fact that information allowing a timely correction had long been available, and that he had to be essentially corralled into making the admission by The Chronicle. As the comment thread demonstrates, our more general criticism of is supported by some members of the Ann Arbor community who have nothing to gain financially from weighing in.

Dave Askins and I made the decision to publish my column only after considerable discussion and a recognition that it might be perceived negatively by some members of the community. In fact, we considered the very real possibility that it might actually hurt The Chronicle’s advertising and subscription revenues, but we felt it was worth the risk. What was the actual benefit that we weighed against that risk? It’s a benefit that assumes that no matter what happens in the future, the Newhouse family is never going to give up trying to earn money in the Ann Arbor market. Based on that assumption, we felt that publishing the column might cause staff to pay closer attention to grounding their reporting first in descriptively accurate facts, before trying to tell stories that drive site traffic. If a Newhouse publication is going to be a player in this market, then I’d prefer it’s one that takes seriously the data it reports, especially when it could be used by public officials to make policy decisions. So by publishing the column, we felt it might make Ann Arbor a better place to live, even if The Chronicle doesn’t survive.

If people still question our motives, I hope at least they acknowledge that there’s a more generous way to think about it.

By: Alan Goldsmith Alan Goldsmith Wed, 06 Jun 2012 18:37:17 +0000 Interesting newspaper business article in the LA Times: [link]

By: Steve Thorpe Steve Thorpe Wed, 06 Jun 2012 18:30:56 +0000 An earlier commenter sniffled, “Mary, on a personal level, I’ve never seen a journalist in my career go to such lengths to discredit a competitor.” In addition to getting some help with the shaky grammar, the writer needs to get out more. During the “newspaper wars” in Detroit I probably would’ve run over a Free Press reporter if I saw one crossing the street on a dark night. But perhaps the writer never worked for a paper with any competition.

By: John Floyd John Floyd Wed, 06 Jun 2012 17:14:17 +0000 Strikes me as a good thing that local news outlets hold each other accountable. If can catch the Chron doing something underhanded, or in error, or simply not doing their homework, go point it out. The reliability and accuracy of a news organization’s output SHOULD be a basis over which to compete for eyeballs and ad dollars.

This time, the Chron caught with their pants down. Next time, it might be catching the Chron off guard. The inside baseball about who worked where when, and what they did at a publication that no longer exists, is clearly of interest to the small circle of ex-AA News employees, but not to us eyeballs. We want news that is accurate and useful, and watchdog reporting and editorializing on local government. Whoever does the best job of performing these functions eventually will gain the most eyeballs. Isn’t this how it’s supposed to be?

Everyone does make mistakes. While we prefer fewer mistakes to more mistakes, the willingness of an organization to acknowledge and fix the mistakes that do happen is inevitably a part of the calculus of what to read, and where to read it. If you never are told where and what the errors are, and what the correct information is, then the only thing you know is that everything you read is suspect. What used to be “standard practice” about fixing errors in the past is no longer relevant. Like so much else it has changed, the internet makes it easier to change news outlets. What organizations used to be able to get away with no longer matters when the competition is a mouse click away. Apparently, folks who are emotionally invested in are upset that it tried to get away with an unseemly past practice, and got caught. Fix the practices, and get back to work.

I have emotional investment in The Chron, but the day I can’t trust what they run is the day I lose my investment. This isn’t about whether Dave and Mary are nice guys – I don’t have time to check up on their content. Their stuff has to be reliable. So does’s. This isn’t about whether or not Ryan is a good guy (as he seems to me) or whether he has professional promise. Its about, “Can I rely on his stuff, and will he tell us when he goofed, and what the correct info is, or do I have to do my own fact checking?” Everything else is inside baseball.

Fix the practices, and get back to work.