Bridge Magazine published its first article on September 6, 2011, almost exactly four years ago.
A series of stories, written by freelancer Rick Haglund, compared the growth of Michigan’s economic regions during the past decade. It offered well-reported detail, clear explanation, thoughtful policy context – just what Bridge has been delivering week in and week out for the past four years.
That first issue drew 2,081 readers. Today we’re averaging around 70,000 readers per month, more than one million unique visitors per year, and we’re on track for more than 4 million pages viewed! These very strong growth rates convince us that there is high citizen demand for exactly the sort of thoughtful, nonpartisan, adult journalism we provide.
Our staff has tripled over the past four years. We’ve recruited some of the very finest and most experienced journalistic talent in Michigan. Bridge is now published, free of charge and distributed on the Internet, with editions coming Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Just a few months ago, in association with Crain’s Detroit Business magazine, we added a Monday edition featuring in-depth business news.
We’ve won a potful of state and national awards for journalistic excellence, including Wayne State University’s “Journalist of the Year” award for 2014: “Much of the best journalism in Michigan is being at Bridge. … It may be the most exciting thing to happen to this profession in Michigan in decades.” And our journalism has succeeded in nourishing our citizen-driven community conversations and in helping our leaders develop far-reaching, bipartisan policy initiatives to make Michigan a better place.
Who’d ‘a thunk it?!
The column I wrote for that first issue of Bridge tried to set out our vision.
“An informed public is the iron core of our democratic system.
“But these days the iron is getting a bit rusty.
“The old media that served the country well for decades – national network TV news like Walter Cronkite’s and the daily newspapers – are sadly in decline. When I started in the newspaper business back in the 1960’s, there were a couple busloads of reporters in Lansing. Today, you can count them on your fingers.
“What’s risen in place is a cacophony of narrow-casting: Politicized radio (Rush Limbaugh) and TV (Fox News, MSNBC), blogs, Facebook postings, Tweets – all expressing separate points of view and many without careful fact checking, fairness or ethics we used to see in the old media. And the result is a fragmented, pulverized electorate – fertile ground for the kind of partisan gridlock that we see so clearly.
“That’s why the Center for Michigan is launching our new news magazine, Bridge. It’s aimed at providing accurate, trustworthy news and analysis of the public’s business and, thus, at bridging the differences in our state: East and West, North and South, Republican and Democrat, urban core and suburbs, labor and management, poor and wealthy, minority and majority. We intend to fill the information vacuum left by deteriorating Michigan newspapers and the increasingly powerful and ideological special interests.
“Our overriding purpose is to help burnish the iron core of Michigan’s political system.”
Our stories have helped shed light on some of Michigan’s most pressing policy issues, from the need for added state support for early childhood help for poor and vulnerable 4-year-olds to the thousands of poor people hidden in the upper income paradise in northwest Michigan. The net result is that thousands of vulnerable kids will get a start in school that will forever make a profound difference in their lives
These are the kinds of stories you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. Taken together, they’ve made a big difference in our state. Over the past years, we’ve earned both the respect of Michigan leaders and policymakers and the trust of our readers.
If you’d like to receive Bridge regularly, just click the button on our homepage. I hope you’ll be pleased – and surprised – at what you find.