Increasingly, Michigan is a place without watchdogs, Phil Power writes this week.
He’s not talking about rabid, drooling dobermans guarding junkyards, though his subjects (newspaper reporters) have been called much worse. He’s talking about the decline of Michigan newspapers, which grew worse this month with the announcement of big cutbacks at the Booth Newspapers in Ann Arbor, Bay City, Flint, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, and Saginaw.
The main question is, who will tell the people? Who will keep government honest? Who will ask the tough questions.
Steadily, the answer may emerge from new kinds of journalism funded through the help of philanthropy.
Consider, for example, this investigation of the federal air marshall service which dominated the front page of USA Today. The byline comes from ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization funded by foundations.
Consider, too, this recent New York Times story profiling local shoestring journalism operations springing up in places like San Diego, New Haven, Conn., and Chicago.
Or, check out the Ann Arbor Chronicle, a new publication launched by Ann Arbor News refugee Mary Morgan.
We’re also catching wind of neighborhood news bureaus possibly cropping up in other Michigan cities very soon.
Who will tell the People? It might be up to philanthropy and the People themselves.