Celebrating Bridge’s growth and impact at age 4

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.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

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Tue, 09/08/2015 - 7:33am
The feedback discussion on various stories is at a higher intelligence level than can be found on Mlive that is for sure.
Tue, 09/08/2015 - 9:54am
"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. " Is this possible when you accept financial support from the Koch brothers? I doubt it.
Wed, 09/09/2015 - 11:23am
According to our records we have not -- and do not -- accept contributions from the Koch brothers or their various affiliated organizations.
Fri, 09/11/2015 - 1:46am
DER I believe in the writers and the editorial staff personal ethics, they write for Bridge and the readers not for donors. If there were donations from the Koch brothers or from George Soros the writing and commentaries would still be the writers views and not anything influenced by others. Everything tells me, what you see is what you get and nothing will change that. I hope Bridge is there for another 4 years and another and so on.
Tue, 09/08/2015 - 10:01am
Bridge has consistently been an excellent source of rational and logical opinion, something quite rare in 2015.
john eman
Tue, 09/08/2015 - 10:27am
Right on, Phil. And, I encourage fellow readers to support Bridge with a gift of financial support.
Tue, 09/08/2015 - 10:37am
Congratulations, Phil, et al. Great coverage of important topics, great reporting and writing. Agree that the comments are more thoughtful and civil than you find elsewhere. Encouraging.
Wed, 09/09/2015 - 3:14pm
Congratulations on providing four years of solid, thoughtful journalism on a wide variety of important public-policy topics. With newspapers slashing staff, local radio news practically nonexistent outside of a couple Detroit stations, and TV news usually obsessed with shootings, fires and medical scares -- independent, quality online media have never been more important. You've got some great writers in your stable -- may their numbers increase, and may your number of page views rise!
Michael Kiella
Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:19pm
Thanks to you Phil, and the whole Bridge team. This is a spot-on magazine with relevant and timely information, accurately reported. I also appreciate it when your writers draw conclusion, and voice preference; it reminds me of an old chemistry colleague who, when all things were on the table, would ask this question: "so, this is it...OK....but first, what else could it be?..." I see that in the Bridge, and it gives me confidence that responsible journalism remains alive. I appreciate the intelligent and thoughtful discourse among readers in the comment section. Contributors to that section are usually informed, careful, and respectful...even when giving voice to differing opinions. My wish is that the Bridge remains a high-quality, trustworthy journalism project for many years to come. Again, thank you.