Stories indexed with the term ‘newspapers’

Initial OK: Less Art Money, Bigger Greenbelt

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Nov. 21, 2011): After the ceremonial swearing in of councilmembers who won their elections on Nov. 8, the council devoted more time to deliberations on modifying its public art ordinance than on any other item on its agenda.

Leslie Morris Jane Lumm Ann Arbor City Council

Before the Nov. 21 meeting, former councilmember Leslie Morris (left) might be reminding Jane Lumm (Ward 2) which ward Lumm represents on the Ann Arbor city council. (Photos by the writer.)

In the end, the council gave initial approval to an ordinance amendment that would temporarily reduce the required allocation to public art from city capital improvement projects – from 1% to 0.5% for a period of three years. After three years, the percentage would automatically revert to 1%. Of the various amendments to the ordinance, the percentage of the required allocation was the focus of the most controversy during council deliberations. A bid by Jane Lumm (Ward 2) to lower the percentage further to 0.25% gained little support.

Other art ordinance amendments given the council’s initial approval include a requirement that public art money be returned to its fund of origin after three years, if not encumbered by a specific art project. The amendment also included a definitional change that effectively excludes sidewalk repair from the public art ordinance. The amendments also addressed the general fund, making explicit the exclusion of general fund projects from the public art ordinance.

During deliberations, city staff confirmed that at least a portion of the public art allocation required from the new municipal building (aka the police/courts building) could be associated with the general fund – about $50,000 out of the $250,000. [This is for art in the interior of the building, and is separate from the outdoor fountain designed by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl.]

As part of her Ward 2 election campaign, Jane Lumm had argued that general fund dollars were connected to supporting public art at the new municipal building – an idea that had been, until Monday’s meeting, poo-pooed by some councilmembers, including mayor John Hieftje, who had said no general fund money had been used for the public art program.

Lumm was active in her first council meeting since serving in the 1990s. During deliberations on a revision to the ordinance on the city’s greenbelt boundaries, she prompted extended discussion on the part of the revision dealing with the boundary expansion. A less controversial part of the proposed revision involved allowing parcels adjacent to the boundary to be eligible for protection. In the end, the council gave initial approval to both parts of the greenbelt boundary change.

Also related to land use were two site plans on the agenda. The council gave initial approval to altering the University Bank site plan for its property at 2015 Washtenaw Ave., known as the Hoover Mansion. And the council signed off on the site plan, as well as the brownfield plan, for Arbor Hills Crossing, a proposed retail and office complex at Platt and Washtenaw.

Because the content of a proposed revision to the city’s littering and handbill law was not available to the public until late in the day Monday, just before the council met, the council postponed its consideration of that item. The ordinance amendment would allow residents to prevent delivery of unwanted newspapers to their homes by posting a notice on their front doors.

In other business, the council expressed its opposition to a bill pending in the Michigan legislature that would nullify an Ann Arbor ordinance on non-discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or student status. At the meeting, the council also authorized acceptance of several grants for the 15th District Court for programs on domestic violence and substance abuse.

In routine business for the first council meeting after newly elected councilmembers take office, the council elected Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) as mayor pro tem. Committee appointments and rule changes were postponed until Dec. 5. [Full Story]

Column: Making Sushi of Obama’s Speech

Last weekend, President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at the University of Michigan’s  spring commencement to an audience of more than 90,000 people, including more than 8,000 graduates.

The event also included national, regional, and local media organizations, who were eventually allowed into Michigan Stadium. But I don’t think most members of the media really listened to his address.

New York Times Headlines

The online New York Times ran at least four different headlines for the Obama speech. In this collage of screen shots, from the upper left, going clockwise: (1) "At a Graduation, Obama Defends Government"; (2) "President's Plea to Graduates: Be Civil"; (3) "At a Graduation, Obama Urges Openness and Defends Government"; (4) "Obama Assails Antigovernment Rhetoric." (Image links to higher resolution file.)

For example, I didn’t see any of these headlines, which could have been attached to an accurate account of Obama’s speech:

Obama Lambastes Media for Sound-Byte Coverage

Obama Takes Aim at Media for Stoking Conflicts

Obama Puts Blame for Coarse Discourse on Media

Obama Erupts But Does Not Confirm Ties to Volcano

The fourth alternative is based on a kindergartner’s question to the president, which Obama reported as part of his speech. That one is admittedly a stretch. It’s included for the benefit of an audience of two, perhaps three, local Ann Arbor readers who might crack a smile when they read it. [For those of you who don't know, Ann Arbor is building a "volcano" in the center of its downtown.]

The other three, however, are legitimate candidates for a headline that summarizes what the president’s speech was “about.” The venerable New York Times tried out at least four different headlines for a single online story on the Obama speech. But none of the NYT alternatives – nor those of any other media coverage I saw – identified as a significant theme of Obama’s speech the culpability of the media in the kind of “over the top” public debates that Obama said “coarsens our culture.”

That’s because I don’t think media organizations were paying attention to all of Obama’s speech the way they would have if they’d approached it like they were cutting up fish. [Full Story]

Tolle on the Totter: Newspapers


[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks appear on The Chronicle.]

Last Thursday, 23 July, 2009, The Ann Arbor News published its final edition after nearly 175 years in business. I spent part of that morning talking on the teeter totter with Brian Tolle about what people “hire” newspapers to do – besides provide them with news and information.

The notion of “hiring” newspapers – by subscribing to them – to do a “job” is a way of thinking about products that comes naturally to Tolle. He works in the field of organization development, providing consulting services to technology companies on the people side of the equation.

Tolle has a tolerance, even enthusiasm, for change and innovation. So when pitched the idea of reading a newspaper on a high-tech paper scroll, he did not fall off the teeter totter laughing. [Full Story]

Tenth Monthly Milestone Message

Flyer for the July 26 Pie Lovers Unite event

Flyer for the July 25 Pie Lovers Unite! in Ypsilanti.

I’ve been thinking about pies.

Literally, in one case. A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the local food tent at Top of the Park and talked to Kim Bayer, one of the organizers of Pie Lovers Unite! – “an old-fashioned hootenanny glorifying Great Michigan Pie,” according to their promotional materials.

The price of admission for this July 25 event is a pie. They’ll be having a “pie-ku” contest, too, which inspired me to write this:

Flakey double crust/hides media fruit or meat/splats soft in your face [Full Story] Execs Answer Questions

Matt Kraner, Tony Dearing and Laurel Champion talk about their plans for at a community forum on Thursday.

Matt Kraner, Tony Dearing and Laurel Champion talk about their plans for at a community forum on Thursday.

For nearly two hours on Thursday afternoon, three people leading the new online venture formed to replace the Ann Arbor News fielded questions at a public forum, trying to assuage concerns over news that shocked this community when announced last week.

“Community” and “local” were two words frequently repeated by Matt Kraner, Laurel Champion and Tony Dearing of, which is gearing up for a late July launch. “Local journalism is not dead in Ann Arbor,” said Champion, current publisher of The News who’ll be executive vice president for the new company. “We’re just serving it up in a very, very different way.” [Full Story]

Washtenaw News Wins NY Times Contract

As part of the change in delivery of the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, which began today, Washtenaw News Co. has gotten a boost – the first good news this local business has seen in several years, according to its CEO, Nick Genova.

Starting today, Washtenaw News – an Ann Arbor-based distributor of newspapers and magazines – will be delivering the New York Times to home subscribers throughout most of Washtenaw County, Genova said. The papers were previously delivered under an agreement with the Detroit Media Partnership, which manages the Detroit papers.

The three-year contract with Washtenaw News also includes delivery of USA Today and Investor’s Business Daily. In addition, Washtenaw News is a distributor locally for the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and the Ann Arbor News, among other publications. The deal means that Washtenaw News now uses about 20 independent contractors to deliver the papers, Genova said – about double the number they used before.

The Chronicle heard about this news on Sunday morning, when the following note slipped out of the New York Times delivered to Chronicle Central: [Full Story]

Column: Why We Grieve The Ann Arbor News

Mary Morgan, Ann Arbor Chronicle publisher

Mary Morgan, Ann Arbor Chronicle publisher

It’s Monday afternoon and I’m sitting in a terminal at Detroit Metro airport, waiting for a flight to Texas to be with my father and sister.

News of my mother’s death and the planned closing of The Ann Arbor News came inside a 12-hour span. The two events are orders of magnitude apart in their emotional impact on me, but in an odd way I find myself processing both and finding a metaphor for one in the other.

My mother was ill for a long time. Once a woman who loved to sing, she became unable to articulate the simplest concept. She grew to be fearful of even the shortest trips outside her home, though once she’d been eager to travel – so much so that all our family vacations when I was young were camping trips, far before it was popular. Piling us into a station wagon hauling a pop-up camper was the only way my parents could afford to see the country.

By the time she died, my mom was a shadow of her former self. And for the people who knew her only in the final months of her life, I’m sure it’s hard for them to imagine the woman I knew, and loved.

All of this was on my mind when word came about the decision to close The Ann Arbor News. And what I’ve heard from people in the aftermath of that decision looks very much like grief. [Full Story]

Farewell, Ann Arbor News

Yesterday's Sunday edition of The Ann Arbor News

Sunday's edition of The Ann Arbor News.

Ann Arbor News publisher Laurel Champion, visibly emotional, told newspaper employees this morning that the paper would cease publication sometime in July, to be replaced by a different company and online publication.

The news shocked employees, who had anticipated cutbacks but not the decision to fold the company.

Champion told employees that the new entity – – will be separate from, though details are still being worked out. According to an article about the changes posted on the Ann Arbor News section of MLive, the company will be led by Matt Kraner, former Cleveland Plain Dealer chief marketing officer. Champion will serve as executive vice president. Tony Dearing, who served as head of the News’ Ypsilanti bureau in the 1990s, will be “chief content leader” – the equivalent of the entity’s top editor. [Full Story]

Fourth Monthly Milestone Message

The Chronicle's media pass for

The Chronicle's state House of Representatives press pass. We hope this year's will be purple.

Back in early September, only a week or so after we launched The Ann Arbor Chronicle, I trekked up to Lansing to meet with our locally elected state legislators. Man, I had grand plans. I’ve never found a good resource for learning about what our state lawmakers are doing, and I thought The Chronicle could be that resource.

The women I met with could not have been more gracious. The three state representatives – Pam Byrnes, Alma Wheeler Smith and Rebekah Warren – work in adjacent offices in a building with spectacular views of the capitol across the street. I met some of their staff, and talked with each about their goals and priorities for the year. Liz Brater, the state senator who represents Ann Arbor, gave me a tour of the Senate chambers. And I wrapped up the day by joining Rebekah Warren and Alma Wheeler Smith while the House was in its afternoon session (their desks sit next to each other on the House floor, but not because Alma is Rebekah’s mother-in-law). I even acquired a press pass for the rest of the year, which involved filling out some forms and getting my picture taken. [Full Story]

Third Monthly Milestone Message


Today marks the third month of publication of The Ann Arbor Chronicle. As we have on the previous monthly milestones, we take this opportunity to touch base directly with readers.

We’ve made a couple of minor changes to the layout. The left sidebar is now a bit cleaner, partly because we’ve consolidated some material into the top shaded box.

In response to reader suggestions, we’ve also made the the link to the Tip Jar as prominent as we know how. It’s sitting in the masthead where the news stand price is typically displayed for a printed publication (upper right).

Also based partly on reader input, the frame for the advertisements now contains a link (at the bottom) to a … [Full Story]

Column: Limited Edition

I miss my daily newspaper as I remember it. Beginning at age 8, I delivered the Detroit Free Press starting at 5 in the morning. It was a small town that depended on two bikes and two people to get the paper out before the milk was delivered to most doorsteps by Alward’s Dairy. It was my world.

I still remember the streets and house numbers as well as some of the more scandalous family entanglements on “my route.” It was hard to keep anything from the paperboy since things seem to either happen or clear out just before daybreak. Recently, a retiree in Ann Arbor said that she grew up at 126 Tyrell Street in my home town. I blushed … [Full Story]