How far we’ve come!
Back in September 2011, the first edition of Bridge Magazine drew all of 1,200 readers. A bit over four years later, we are attracting more than 60,000 a month!
That, by any measure, is amazing growth. And as a man who has spent his life in journalism, I think it speaks to the quality of work being done at Bridge, a publication of the Center of Michigan, a 501(c)3 nonpartisan, tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.
We at the Center decided to create Bridge as a response to the sad deterioration of our state’s daily newspapers, something that’s been happening at an accelerating rate since the 1990s. As the Internet pillaged their advertising base, publishers discovered they could no longer afford the kind of staff and size of news hole they used to have. And that, in turn, helped create an information vacuum between those who govern our state and ordinary Michigan citizens.
We created Bridge as a new way to help sustain an informed public – something which is the necessary iron core of any democracy. We wanted to find a way to engage and inform Michiganders about the big issues that affect us all: schools and colleges; our economy and the skills and talents of our workforce; the challenges of life in our cities and rural communities; our environment and our transportation system; the strengths and weaknesses of our political system and policy-making practices.
We wanted to go beyond the “who, what, where and when” of standard news reporting. We wanted to explore the whys, the hows, the implications and the consequences of actions taken – and not taken. Like any good journalists, we wanted to inform the public, but in a deeper way, helping people understand the background of policy, the complexity of debate, the range of discourse.
To do this, we wanted to create a fact-based, nonpartisan, fair-minded and objective standard of journalism. We understood that we had to establish a relationship with Michigan readers that went far beyond the clutter of tweets, YouTube posts and Facebook pages. Our ambition was to make Bridge into the most trusted news source for Michigan citizens and stakeholders in our state.
We also understood that what we do not cover is almost as important as what we do. Since we do not attempt to reach a mass audience, we do not attempt to chase the sensational crime story of the moment. We do not engage in “gotcha” journalism. We try to present all sides of a matter of debate, and we prefer to give our readers the facts and let them decide for themselves.
To accomplish this, we set out to attract the best journalists and reporters we could find. Our staff of seven, headed by Pulitzer Prize-winning editor David Zeman, represents more than 200 years of experience. I may be biased, but I think what they are producing four times a week is among the very best journalism in Michigan.
A lot of readers seem to agree.
Brad Morrill wrote, “I am compelled to write today because of how valuable I found your Bridge Magazine. The value in the information that the reporters dig up and present is just fabulous. I don’t know where else a citizen of Michigan can go to find this kind of nonpartisan, fact-filled information on a regular basis. The Center for Michigan and Bridge Magazine are filling a much needed void that is very much appreciated.”
Another Bridge reader added, “Thank you for your work for Michigan. I believe that Bridge is fulfilling a missing, yet vital, function in our society by reaching out to, engaging and motivating the people of Michigan to intelligently act in their own best interests.”
But writing, editing and producing a magazine like Bridge is not easy. It costs money. And it needs demonstrated public support.
So beginning with this issue, we are launching a crowdfunding campaign to solicit reader contributions to Bridge Magazine.
Your contribution will in part help meet the financial burden of publishing Bridge. Equally important, your contribution will be a concrete showing of public support for our work.
It doesn’t matter how much you choose to contribute, whether $5 or $500 or more. Please make out your check to the Center for Michigan, the publisher of Bridge, and send it into our office at 4100 North Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105.
We’ll send you back a receipt you can use to claim a tax deduction. You can’t go wrong. You’ll help sustain Bridge Magazine, good, responsible, unbiased journalism, and our work to make a better Michigan. And who can say no to a tax deduction in the waning days of this year?
In any event, many thanks for your consideration, your thoughtfulness, and your support.
- Phil Power