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 517-214-3636.


Michigan’s aging voting machines a 'catastrophe waiting to happen’

March 3, 2016 | Ron French

Scrounging for used parts on the Internet, Michigan clerks say it’s time for new election equipment, if the state will pay for it.

Low-income students soar at some colleges, struggle at others

January 26, 2016 | Ron French

Climbing the economic ladder is made easier at some Michigan four-year campuses than others

Homeless EMU student grateful for more than money

January 5, 2016 | Ron French

Ramone Williams collected more than $25,000 from Bridge and MLive readers. But his more cherished gift: new friends.

Update: Bridge readers open hearts, wallets for homeless college student

December 18, 2015 | Ron French

Touched by the plight of Eastern Michigan senior Ramone Williams, people across the country offer help for the school’s homeless students, even as some ask why there is not more support for low-income students seeking a degree.

He’s a college senior with a 3.4 GPA. And he’s homeless.

December 17, 2015 | Ron French

Michigan desperately needs more college graduates. So why are some students forced to live in cars and comb campus events for free food to afford an education?

Michigan colleges offering best bang for the buck

December 1, 2015 | Ron French

Large college checks don’t always produce the best value. These cost-vs-paycheck rankings may surprise you.

The graying of Michigan farmers, and what they will leave behind

November 5, 2015 | Ron French

More than a third of Michigan farms are operated by farmers over 65. What happens when they retire?

New state teacher evaluation standards are no magic bullet

November 3, 2015 | Ron French

It’s been a long, contentious battle to reform Michigan’s teacher evaluation system. Now, the hard work begins.

In one tech-heavy cyber school, a low-tech strategy spurs learning

October 22, 2015 | Ron French

Cyber schools are all about technology. But in a field of struggling competitors, one Michigan cyber school is succeeding with an old-fashioned idea: person-to-person interaction.

Three years later, jury still out on Michigan’s cyber school expansion

October 22, 2015 | Ron French

Enrollment in Michigan’s online charter schools is exploding. But are kids learning?

Poll: Michigan voters strongly favor state prison reform

October 13, 2015 | Ron French

Voters back bipartisan efforts to lower Michigan’s prison population, in part by helping prisoners get job training so they can support themselves and are less likely to return to prison.

‘Clean slate’ law for offenders could be boon for business

October 13, 2015 | Ron French

A bill being introduced in Lansing would wipe criminal records for those nonviolent offenders who stay out of trouble, making it easier for them to get jobs.

Education leaders agree: High school students need better counseling

October 6, 2015 | Ron French

Career navigation experts echo a strong majority of Michigan residents who say every high school should have dedicated college and career advisors.

What we can do to reduce extreme college drinking

September 30, 2015 | Ron French, Nancy Derringer

Nov. 1, 2011 was supposed to be the day Michigan won an important battle in the war on high-risk college drinking. That’s the day a new state liquor policy, called the keg tag law, went into effect.

Unconscious students on hospital gurneys: A Game Day diary

September 28, 2015 | Nancy Derringer, Ron French, Mike Wilkinson

Universities are spending millions to curb dangerous drinking. Yet blackout partying persists in a puke-and-rally culture. Bridge investigates what works, and what doesn’t, in the ongoing battle to keep college students safe.

Stone-cold sober on game day? It really happens

September 28, 2015 | Nancy Derringer, Ron French

When the subject of campus drinking comes up, university officials at schools all over Michigan make sure to point out that thousands of students on their campuses don’t drink at all.

Michigan prison reform gaining momentum in fall session

September 24, 2015 | Ron French

A measure that would make it easier for inmates to gain earlier release could be the first of several bills to reduce the state’s prison population.

Michigan residents demand better college, career advice

September 17, 2015 | Ron French

Our students deserve better counseling to prepare for life after high school, whether they are pursuing a college degree or career. Residents are keen on requiring school counselors to receive training in college and career advice.

Legislative preview: Lansing tackles teaching, roads and inmates

September 10, 2015 | Ron French

It’s back to work for Michigan’s Legislature. A Bridge guide to the biggest issues lawmakers are likely to face this fall