The Ann Arbor Media Flip

Today’s the day – the last day of publication for the Ann Arbor News.  Tomorrow the successor (it has the same publisher, at least) , AnnArbor.com, is formally initiated (they seem to be sneaking up on it today).  So – as I’ve noted in a couple of previous posts, it’ll be up to us to figure out how we get our news.  There’ll never be “the newspaper” again – or at least that particular reality doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

Of course, this has provoked a good deal of soul-searching and plenty of trips down memory lane, including one by a former reporter, Jeff Mortimer, in the Ann Arbor Chronicle today. Regular readers of the Chronicle will remember a couple of heart-wrenching stories by its publisher, Mary Morgan, who was with the News for many years.   Arbor Update’s Juliew asks some very good questions along the line of What is a newspaper? What is a journalist? What is news?  There is a pretty good discussion, including submissions by actual journalists.  (Okay, I’ve stepped into the swamp of definitions.  A journalist is someone who actually investigates and reports, not someone who merely repeats what they’ve heard and offers opinions.)  (And since you’re asking, I consider myself to be teetering just on the edge of that, but I’m getting a lot of my reporting from other people, and I definitely have opinions.)

So that still leaves us with the question – how do we find out what is going on – the news and the background behind the news?  We’ve been listing sites that seem to convey some actual news about the Ann Arbor area, or at least aggregate it.  Today Ann Arbor Business Review will come off the list, since they are being submerged into AnnArbor.com.

A new addition:  The Michigan Daily.   I didn’t think of it earlier because, frankly, I have not been in the habit of reading a “student newspaper”.  However, a glance at the site shows some pretty serious reporting, not just on student topics, and it is worthy of inclusion.

I won’t be adding our two major NPR stations, for different reasons.  WEMU is an important source for local news (especially listen in the morning just after the top and bottom of the hour); they have long sent reporters to meetings and done original and timely reporting on Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Washtenaw County news.  But as far as I can tell, extensive coverage is not carried over to their website.  On the other hand, though WUOM has a good deal of “Michigan News” on their website, it is rarely local to Ann Arbor.

More blogs and online efforts are likely to pop into this vacuum.  The Ann Arbor News says that Tom Gantert, a longtime reporter for the News, is starting an online political journal called The Michigan Reporter – which he hopes will be funded by grants.  Not a good beginning to read his quote about it.  It is clear between that and his comments on Arbor Update that this transition is not going well for him.

Then there are alternative newsweeklies/newsmonthlies.  Ann Arbor has had a string of them.  The Ann Arbor Observer, of course, has news as well as other types of features, and is still mostly a print publication.  (We’ve put the online version, ArborWeb, on the blogroll.)For many years, one could pick up Agenda, a liberal monthly, free at some newstands.  I haven’t seen it for a long time, though it is still listed as extant.  More recently, I’ve seen a well-produced GLBT paper, Between the Lines. I’m not sure that it is still being printed, but I don’t get to the places like coffee shops where it is likely to be found.  There is also Current, vaguely in the free shopper category, but has finally gotten its website up so that one can read the features and reviews online.

Maybe next someone should start an alternative publication like that now being read in Flint.  It is being passed out for free by volunteers – just like the old broadsides back in the days of the American Revolution.

Update: Today’s Arborweb (Ann Arbor Observer) and Ann Arbor Chronicle have reciprocal links to one another.  Connectivity lives!

Second Update: The Ann Arbor Chronicle has added the Lucy Ann Lance (1290 AM) blog to its “local news” links.

Third Update: The A2Journal, which was supposed to be a print publication delivered to homes weekly, also has a web presence.  We didn’t have a delivery last week (after receiving them for two weeks).  It’s not clear how much actual reporting they are doing.

Fourth Update: The Ann Arbor Chronicle provided this link to a Time Magazine story on the death of the Ann Arbor News.  It reports that the move was a bold business decision rather than a burial.

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4 Comments on “The Ann Arbor Media Flip”


  1. I think the face of all news media is changing, just as the publishing industry is going through major overhaul. It’s hard to see, at this point, what the outcome will be. I’d really like to see reciprocal links between all our area online media (just speaking from my own, unofficial perspective). I also believe, unfortunately, it will fall to the reader to sift out what he/she feels is the best news source for him/her. My 16-year-old son is frustrated by the fact that he believes we’re losing our ability to make decisions because we all tend to read our favorite news media, and each increasingly, has its own slant. Are you a Fox person or do you watch MSNBC exclusively? That kind of thing. BTW… there are some occasionally truly wonderful Ann Arbor articles in the Community High Communicator. They have some very talented and dedicated students working there – it’s definitely not your average high school paper.

    • varmentrout Says:

      Thanks – I agree that the self-segregation of readers into different news sources is a concern, because we will have difficulty in achieving a shared view of history. I’ve had to make myself read Concentrate, for example, and though I often don’t agree with the premises from which they are writing, it is valuable to understand that different perspective. (And I confess – I’m an NPR listener, don’t listen to local AM stations or watch television, so I’m self-limited too.)

  2. Alan Goldsmith Says:

    The link to the Flint Broadside was interesting and you have to print out a coupon and mail it in to subscribe.

    I miss Agenda too. It’s long gone after Ted Sylvester passed it along to another ‘publisher’ years ago, but when I was writing for the paper back in the day, it had this aura and vibe that is missing in any of the other local media outlets of late. A publication or web site in Agenda’s mode and spirit is just the thing that Ann Arbor needs.

  3. McCarron Says:

    Thanks for the link to Broadside! We’re very proud of what we’re doing and we’re pleased that it’s getting such a great reception.


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