Sep 10, 2007

New progressive online newspaper and blog launched

A new venture was launched in Michigan today, and I am very happy to say I am a part of it. The online newspaper/blog the Michigan Messenger was launched today, and it’s a collaboration of professional bloggers and journalists across Michigan with the goal of breaking news and influencing the conversations about issues that face our state.

It is part of the Center for Independent Media’s - a not-for-profit organization that fosters diversity of ideas in the national debate by educating and training people on the use of new communications technologies – New Journalism Program. The Center for Independent Media was founded in April 2006 after a four- month intensive research study. The research project's objective was to understand how blogs work to broaden ideological diversity in the media, and how to reinforce these positive effects.

The goal is to train and equip citizen-journalists, and the group is a mix of journalists, writers, academics and bloggers. The goals of the program are to strengthen networks of progressive blogs on a state-by-state basis, and the Michigan Messenger joins The Minnesota Monitor, the Iowa Independent and the Colorado Confidential in breaking and reporting frontline political news.

With newsroom consolidation and most newspapers and newspaper chains closing down their Capitol bureaus, we will be taking and reporting on stories the mainstream, corporate media and the overworked and underpaid reporters may not get to or choose to ignore. It should be noted this is a “soft launch” as the bugs are worked out, the layout is finalized and the look and the feel of the site are ironed out. But the reporters, also known as fellows, are already writing and posting stories.

It’s an exciting start-up project, and it is very similar to the start-up of a daily newspaper. I fortunate enough to be part of the first start-up of a daily newspaper in Michigan in half a century when on September 7, 2000 the bi-weekly newspapers the Brighton Argus and the Livingston County Press became the Livingston County Daily Press and Argus. This carries some of that same excitement, and I am proud to have been a part of both ambitious and historic launches.

The nine other reporters are a very diverse group of individuals. Newsroom diversity has long been a goal of the Michigan Press Association that has rarely been met, but they truly accomplish that goal here. I have worked in newsrooms in Blissfield, Adrian, South Lyon, Southgate, Brighton and Howell, and this is by far the most diverse newsroom I have ever been a part of.

It is a progressive blog, and much like the Wall Street Journal and most mainstream newspapers that have a conservative bent we will have a progressive viewpoint. However, we subscribe to the code of ethics put out by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). That simply means we are accurate, identify sources when possible, are fair, never plagiarize, act independently, avoid conflicts of interest or revel any unavoidable conflicts and admit factual mistakes and correct them.

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