Ron French

Senior Writer Ron French joined Bridge in 2011 after having won more than 40 national and state journalism awards since he joined the Detroit News in 1995. French has a long track record of uncovering emerging issues and changing the public policy debate through his work. In 2006, he foretold the coming crisis in the auto industry in a special report detailing how worker health-care costs threatened to bankrupt General Motors. In 2007, French uncovered Michigan’s educator pension and health-care costs that are now at the center of policy debate in Lansing. He is also the author of “Driven Abroad,” a book chronicling the movement of Michigan jobs overseas. You can reach Ron via email at, or call him at 517-657-3501.


Scores in one West Michigan school district typify state’s malaise

March 1, 2018 | Ron French

Allegan Public Schools was among dozens of districts that showed little student growth in a Stanford study. Its story is the story of public education across Michigan.  

A Michigan divide? Documentary follows families in a fiery political year

March 1, 2018 | Ron French

As 2017 unfolded, six families from vastly different backgrounds said they sometimes felt like Michiganders didn’t speak the same language on politics. A Bridge documentary goes in search of what they might share.    

Did a Michigan campus narrowly avert a massacre like the Florida shooting?

February 15, 2018 | Ron French, Jim Malewitz

We’ve all seen the horrible scenes from a Florida high school. But similar carnage may have visited Lansing Community College in November. But then a worried friend called police.

No offense, Gov. Snyder, but here’s Michigan’s real ‘State of the State’

January 23, 2018 | Ron French

Candidates for state office will talk about whatever it is they want to talk about. Here are the critical issues they should be addressing, and the facts you need to evaluate their campaigns.

Why Michigan needs newcomers. Told in 5 data maps.

November 30, 2017 | Mike Wilkinson, Ron French

Michigan’s economy would improve if more adults had diplomas. Why our future may depend on immigrants and other transplants.

Are teen prison rapes a violation of civil rights? A Michigan court is about to decide.

November 16, 2017 | Ron French

More than 900 juvenile prisoners have filed suit claiming they were harmed, some of them sexually, while being housed with adult inmates. Their case might never make it to a jury.

Michigan high school counselors to get training in college and career advice

November 8, 2017 | Ron French

A bill expected to be signed today by Gov. Rick Snyder is a small step toward improved access to college ‒ if schools’ understaffed counselors can find time to pass on career advice.

An election divided them. A year later, they meet face to face.

November 7, 2017 | Ron French, Pat Shellenbarger

We’ve followed Michigan residents with diverse political views since the 2016 presidential election. They came together in one room on a recent morning. Here’s what happened.

Trump and anti-Trump Michiganders meet: A photo story

November 7, 2017 | Ron French

Coffee, donuts, laughs and a few tears: a year after a divisive presidential election, voters meet to swap political views amid hopes they can work together on some issues.

Michigan gerrymandering petition on pace for ballot. Will state justices stop it?

October 19, 2017 | Ron French

The 300,000-plus registered voters may not be as important as seven state Supreme Court justices in determining if an independent commission should set political boundaries rather than politicians.

California holds clues to how a redistricting commission could change Michigan

October 19, 2017 | Ron French

More competitive races. More public input. But don’t look for a massive swing in electoral prospects.

How much money Michigan would lose under Graham-Cassidy

September 26, 2017 | Ron French

Estimates range up to $8 billion-plus as Republicans prepare for one final shot at repealing Obamacare before a coming deadline.

U-M asks, ‘Where are the poor kids?’

September 21, 2017 | Ron French

It may be a world-renowned university, but the University of Michigan has yet to figure out how to get more low-income students to enroll. The solution may come down to a one-word  marketing tweak: Free

Text messages and rap videos. How the state is telling poor students they too can afford college.

September 21, 2017 | Ron French

It sounds like a mix between Big Brother and Helicopter Mom, but a three-year-old state program that helps guide first-generation college students and their families through the maze of financial aid may help Michigan increase low-income college enrollment.

Betsy DeVos wants to rethink how colleges probe sexual assault. She may have a point.

September 12, 2017 | Ron French

Bridge investigations into assault cases at major Michigan universities reveal practices that should trouble both victims of sexual assault, and those who are accused.

Michigan college students are binging on booze. Time for more kegs?

September 7, 2017 | Ron French

When Michigan turned off the tap at underage parties, binge drinking became more dangerous. Some say it’s time to go back to kegs.

Trump’s DACA reversal a nightmare to this west Michigan ‘dreamer’

September 5, 2017 | Ron French

Wilfredo Diaz came to America when he was 9. At 22, he may have to return to Guatemala because of a decision made by President Trump.

University of Michigan won't 'do work of police' to track DACA students

August 31, 2017 | Ron French

U-M President Mark Schlissel says students should be able to pursue education 'without outside worries.' He sat down with Bridge to answer five questions this week.

Upper Peninsula population plummets. One family’s struggle shows why.

August 31, 2017 | Ron French

Northern Michigan counties are losing residents at a startling rate. Jobs are scarce. And so is hope among some.

A crusading attorney helped free a man framed for murder. They both ended up dead.

August 15, 2017 | Ron French

Leaving prison was supposed to make everything better. It was only the beginning of the troubles for an unlikely pair.