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Dear readers: When we launched City Pulse in 2001, our page count was paucity of advertising in those days. Fortunately, advertising has grown content, even though advertising has been virtually our sole source of 23,361.
But with growing circulation comes more printing expense. we can maintain and expand our content — as we are doing this week you will find an envelope for checks and credit card contributions (a form is on Pulse stay strong.
On these pages, you can read the thoughts of three prominent journalist Eric Freedman and Deborah Mikula, the executive director of the Arts please consider showing it with a contribution. Remember, a free press is not free, was frequently just 16, and it probably should have been more like eight, given the grown over the years.
But our content-to-advertising ratio remains decidedly prosource of revenue. Readers obviously approve: Our distribution hit a new high last week expense. Therefore, for the first time, we are asking readers to help support City Pulse so with the addition of a page of East Lansing/Meridian Township news. In this issue, on this page). You can also go to www.lansingcitypulse.com/donate. Please help City prominent community members — Former Mayor David Hollister, Pulitzer Prize-winning Arts Council of Greater Lansing — on why City Pulse matters. If you agree with them, free, and neither is a free newspaper. Thank you. Berl Schwartz, editor & publisher.Shedding light on issues that matter
By DAVID HOLLISTER
I came to the Mayor’s Office in January 1994 as a man with a mission. I was determined to turn my campaign promise of becoming a world class city into reality. I was convinced that the region had several components that are necessary to claim such exulted status: Michigan State University is an international institution and ranks in the top academic and research centers in the world; General Motors had its world headquarters for Oldsmobile and its major manufacturing base here; and, of course, we are uniquely the State Capitol. Additionally, we were experiencing the emergence of two thriving and vibrant new economy sectors — insurance and financial services and information technology. Clearly, these were pillars upon which one could build a world class city.
I naively believed that if I just articulated the vision and presented a plan, the community would wholeheartedly embrace my quest.
It quickly became apparent that being a new mayor with a strategic plan for economic development and a skilled and professional team of cabinet members was not sufficient to earn widespread community support automatically.
After all, the Chamber of Commerce had endorsed the incumbent mayor and had not even extended me the courtesy of an interview. The Lansing State Journal had dismissed my vision and plan as “Pollyanish” and expressed concern for my liberal, pro-labor, pro-environment voting record. Clearly, the establishment was content with the City Hall status quo and a more modest goal of being an All-American city.
As I shifted from a candidate with idealistic goals to an administrator with the hard task of everyday governing, balancing the budget, meeting with constituents, solving problems and keeping my campaign promises, I became aware of forces at work in the economy that were threatening the very existence of General Motors’ auto manufacturing operations.
In late 1995, I was informed by a GM vice president that GM would be ending production in Lansing in the near future and closing its facilities in our region. I was stunned but determined to do whatever necessary to keep GM.
The community response to my call to action would prove to be critical to our future. Some doubted that GM would ever leave because we enjoyed a 100-year history of excellent relations. Others thought it hopeless to reverse a GM decision as they were closing more than 40 plants across the country and had never reversed a closure decision. A couple of City Council members said we would be better off if GM closed because we would become more like Ann Arbor.
As we struggled to implement a “Keep GM” campaign, the pesky City Pulse continuously challenged my administration.
It was seeking to establish itself as a legitimate player and adopted a super-critical approach, assuming the role of muckraker and questioning almost every initiative, motive and achievement. It was particularly critical of my commitment to transparency, openness and inclusiveness. While I talked about transparency, inclusiveness and win-win solutions, the very nature of the process of bargaining and negotiation involving GM and the UAW during the Keep GM campaign required some privacy and secrecy.
I took the scrutiny personally, because I shared many of the values and policy positions that the Pulse advocated. After months of constant negativity, I refused to engage in any interviews with City Pulse reporters and told my staff to follow suit.
Calmer heads prevailed and after a heated mediation session, we agreed to settle our differences and focus on areas where we had a mutual interest in helping the community grow. We found a win-win solution, and we both grew from the experience.
I acknowledged that I was wrong in not allowing dialogue with City Pulse reporters. A free and inquiring press is critical to the democratic process. The Pulse had every right to question my motives, hold me accountable and point out double standards. After all, I had authored Michigan’s Open Meeting Act and co-sponsored the Freedom of Information Act. I agreed that it was my job to present accurate data and explain how individual initiatives fit the big picture of becoming a world-class city.
The Pulse agreed to be more objective in its approach to reporting on City Hall. The Pulse committed to doing in-depth coverage of the policies being presented and, unlike the Lansing State Journal, distinguished itself by investing more of its resources informing the community about local government.
The Pulse has matured and developed a real niche in our community. It has evolved, adapted and progressed to the point that it is looked to and respected for its coverage of local government and its impact on the community.
The Lansing region is in the midst of a significant transformation. In January 2018, we will swear in a new mayor of Lansing, and the City Council could potentially have four new members. Fortunately, the two candidates for mayor embrace the notion of regionalism, have deep roots in the community and have strong personal relationships with regional leaders. I believe regionalism will be a major focus in the years to come. It is the one area where cost savings can be made without reducing services.
The City Pulse decision to expand coverage in East Lansing and Meridian Township is consistent with the transformation of our economy and will be a catalyst for further positive change.Alt news needed more than ever
By ERIC FREEDMAN
What’s going on around here in our community? And how do we know about it?
Fortunately, we can find part of the answers to those questions every week in City Pulse.
As a journalist, a journalism professor and a 33-year resident of the community, I see the essential role played by alternative media such as City Pulse in filling gaps in public affairs coverage — whether it’s news that authorities and influence-wielders seek to bury or news that mainstream print and broadcast outlets lack the staff and commitment to get out.
We’re fortunate to live in a community that has long heard alternative media voices. In the mid-1960s, amidst an expanding war in Southeast Asia and more vigorous civil rights advocacy at home came The Paper, East Lansing’s pioneering underground newspaper, to provide an alternative voice in a politically conservative community.
Six years ago, I wrote a column for Domemagazine.com about the history of The Paper and its lasting legacy reflected by such publications as City Pulse. That legacy continues.
The Paper dared tackle hot-button issues such as MSU’s curfew for women students, local housing discrimination and how MSU aided and abetted CIA covert ops in Vietnam. Not everyone was pleased to have an alternative voice rocking the attitudinal boat. Police conducted a drug raid on the house where The Paper was put together and where some of its staff lived. Its coverage won little favor among top university administrators.
Similarly, City Pulse’s coverage of Lansing City Hall has frequently rankled Mayor Virg Bernero and other high-ranking city, township and county officials.
Its coverage remains a priority that has become increasingly essential to the citizenry as the news staffs at the Lansing State Journal, local television stations and local weekly newspapers have shrunk and shrunk and shrunk.
In addition, the fact that alternative media voices such as City Pulse exist, willing to aggressively seek and report other wise-ignored news in our community, may help rebuild public trust in the press. That trust continues to erode under politically charged but wildly baseless accusations of “fake news” and “fake news writers.”
A 2016 Gallup poll distressingly found that only 32 percent of Americans surveyed say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in the news media to fairly and accurately report the news. That’s down eight points from the previous year and is the highest no-confidence vote in Gallup’s polling history. State officeholders, members of Congress and lobbyists ranked even worse, although that’s no consolation for those of us who believe that a credible, trustworthy press is essential for democracy and an informed citizenry.
Watchdog journalism — coverage that goes below the surface to explore and investigate and explain city halls, township offices and county courthouses — may bolster public confidence in the press, especially when media revelations of wrongdoing, incompetence or lack of transparency trigger changes that benefit the public.
To illustrate impact, an alternative newspaper, Willamette Week, won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for revealing how the former governor of Oregon had sexually abused a 14-year-old girl while he served as mayor of Portland. Later, the same paper’s exposé of conflicts of interest and misuse of state resources by another governor and his fiancée led to the governor’s resignation.
The slogan of City Pulse — “A Newspaper for the Rest of Us” — calls to mind these excerpts from a front-page editorial in the 1st issue of The Paper five decades ago:
“Our higher loyalty is to the practice of imaginative, creative, thoughtful journalism…We have loyalty to the idealism on which the best journalism ever practiced has been based. We hope unabashedly to be a forum for ideas, a center for debate, a champion of the common man, a thorn in the side of the powerful…. We hope to inspire thought, to attract good writing, to train newcomers in the way of the press…. We hope never to be so sure of our position and so unaware of our real job that we will concentrate merely on putting out a paper… And we intend to do all this in a spirit of editorial independence.”
That is a high calling indeed, and we are fortunate to have City Pulse with the same commitment.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Eric Freedman is an MSU journalism professor and director of Capital News Service and the Knight Center for Environmental Reporting.Lansing’s partner in the arts
By DEBORAH E. MIKULA
This region has a plethora of arts and cultural organizations and individual artists, and I know each and every one of you has experienced the power of the arts firsthand — whether that is experiencing a painting, attending a performance, rockin’ it out at our favorite tavern, visiting a museum with our children, attending one of the hundreds of festivals or seeing ticipating dance or And where about pen our children parin an after-school music program. do we find out most of these hap- ings? City Pulse, of course.
City Pulse is the “go to” media for cultural events and art happenings in the capital area. Without a doubt, they are on top of not only the traditional, larger arts activities, but they also have their ear to the ground and make sure that we know of smaller events and the backgrounds of the artists that work so hard to show off their talents.
We owe much thanks to City Pulse for making sure that the arts are highlighted at every opportunity and are at the focal point of all that happens here — bringing us together and helping us build the fabric of our community.
Since our founding in 1965, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing has played a key role in ensuring the health and vitality of the capital region with a mission to support, strengthen and promote arts, culture and creativity. Our region’s identity, spirit and continued economic growth are defined by our arts and culture sector, which includes our cultural organizations, artists and prominent history of creative expression. Without our partners and our collaborators, we would never be able to achieve all that we envision. City Pulse is, and always will be, a part of that network.
City Pulse deserves to be recognized for its vision to put arts and culture at the top of their agenda. It provides a comprehensive source to find creative places to visit, experiences to be had, and ways to become involved in the region’s arts and cultural organizations. It showcases emerging and professional artists, musicians and creatives equally and without bias. What we have in the capital region is something many communities do not have — a weekly source of arts and culture information right at our fingertips.
The value of arts and culture can’t be understated — this is what makes our communities stand out from each other. By putting a spotlight on all that makes us special, unique and authentic, City Pulse has become a true partner, collaborator and ally to the arts community.
Just as City Pulse has been a true partner of the Arts Council, I hope you will be a true partner of City Pulse by helping it maintain and expand its coverage. After all, a free newspaper isn’t free.
(Deborah Mikula is the executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.
For the last two summers, City Pulse has helped the Arts Council through the “Summer of ” program featuring original cover art that is auctioned at the Arts Council’s Holiday Glitter fundraiser, which this year is Dec. 5.)