Speaking before the assembled guests at an induction ceremony of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, Center for Michigan Chairman Phil Power told a story about how he got into the newspaper business.
It was the mid-1960s. After studying at prestigious schools in the United States and Great Britain, the young Power had moved on to manage a congressional office. So, in his own words, he had "no marketable skills." He decided to pursue his passion for newspapers.
He entered the offices of the Observer newspapers in suburban Detroit, approached the receptionist and inquired as to the price to purchase the paper.
"She said, '25 cents,'" Power explained with a smirk.
Once the misconception over the scope of the transaction was cleared away, the beginning of a newspaper conglomerate was under way. Power eventually would direct 62 community newspapers in Michigan and Ohio.
About 40 years later, Power and wife Kathy decided to sell their Hometown Communications papers. But a retirement of sun, sea and sand was not in their future. Instead, they decided to launch the Center for Michigan, a nonprofit, nonpartisan "think and do tank" dedicated to the proposition that most Michigan residents seek centrist, common-sense solutions to the state's challenges.
And in just a few short years, the Center has been able to convene community townhalls to solicit the views of more than 10,000 Michiganr esidents and publish journalism that has changed the course of state policy on Pure Michigan funding and the length of the public school calendar.
In accepting a "Special Recognition" Award from the Hall of Fame, Power left the assembled guests with a few words of advice:
"To think without doing is pointless.
"To do without thinking, as a former mayor of Detroit learned, will get you in big, big trouble."