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 shows like Walter Cronkite’s and daily and weekly newspapers – are sadly in decline. When I started in the newspaper business, there were a couple of 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 in Washington.
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 single interests.
Our mission statement expresses our philosophy:
* “Gotcha journalism isn’t on our map. Bridge is not interested in the “gotcha” moments that have come to dominate the “conflict for its own sake” media.
* There’s a point to our view. We don’t intend to be namby-pamby. Bridge is journalism with a stance. Sure, we’ll report objectively and fairly, but we’ll also advocate for policies and a public agenda identified by The Center for Michigan’s public engagement work.
* We’re interested in helping readers make choices and understand consequences of those choices. That’s the only way citizens can work their way through the process of forming public opinion in an informed way.
* R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Bridge’s journalism will be fact-based and probing. It will respect the good sense and civic instincts of our readers.
* There’s no “I” in “team." Bridge will share its reports and findings widely with other media because we all have the same objective of informing our citizens. Bridge is about solutions, not exclusives.
At Bridge, we’ve assembled a top team of respected, experienced journalists. Derek Melot, our senior editor, has 20 years' experience in journalism, much of it spent covering Michigan government as a columnist and editorial writer for the Lansing State Journal Senior Writer Ron French, formerly the projects reporter at the Detroit News, is quite possibly the best explanatory journalist in Michigan. And we’ve assembled a growing crew of freelance reporters and experts; combined, these contributors bring more than 200 years of professional experience.
Our overriding purpose is to help burnish the iron core of Michigan’s political system. If you agree, we hope that you’ll sign up to get your free, twice-weekly issues of Bridge by clicking the button on our home page. There is nothing so powerful as an informed and engaged public. It’s Bridge’s mission to make that possible.
Editor’s note: Former newspaper publisher and University of Michigan Regent Phil Power is a longtime observer of Michigan politics and economics. He is also the founder and president of The Center for Michigan, a nonprofit, bipartisan centrist think-and-do tank, designed to cure Michigan’s dysfunctional political culture. The opinions expressed here are Power’s own and do not represent the official views of The Center. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.