Between past and future 

We’ve been celebrating this 20th anniversary over the past month and going over many of the things that have made the Metro Times what it is. All of this seems to beg the question of what the future holds. You can make a lot of predictions and most of them will be wrong. Trust me on that. But you can wonder and dream.

Will there be a Metro Times in 20 years? There wasn’t one before 1980, and it’s certainly possible there won’t be one in the future. But I think it’s much more likely that either the Detroit News or the Free Press won’t be around in 20 years. Rumors that one of the papers would fail have been circulating ever since the dawn of the Joint Operating Agreement that merged the business operations of both papers. And those rumors have picked up since the 1995 strike. The bottom line is that though there are no guarantees, we expect to be here, bigger and better than ever. Bigger and better is what we shoot for every week.

But what will today’s newspapers look like in 20 years? Many prognosticators say there will be no newspapers as we know them today. They say printed pages will give way to Web pages or data dumps to be read on your laptop or Palm Pilot or whatever new technology they come up with by then. Metrotimes.com, our award-winning Web page, has been developing over the past few years and will continue to be a lead player as publications jockey for online position. The Sonic, Restaurant and Club Metropolis sections are so good that papers across the country are buying the database we developed.

What about the ideas that made MT part of this community? Politics evolve and there are those who would argue that there is no longer a credible liberal or left political force out there. But there are certainly those doing progressive work to build people power in the face of corporate malfeasance and government indifference. Those forces will always be there, and MT intends to stand strong and be their voice when others ignore them. Last week’s cover story on Ralph Nader’s Detroit visit is an example of that. And, of course, nobody does cutting-edge arts like we do.

It’s with the past and the future in mind that we bring you this issue. Sure, we look back and celebrate the past with a message from MT co-founder Ron Williams, a survey of 20 great news stories that helped define this publication, a look at what some MT folks have moved on to achieve and a gallery of covers you’ve enjoyed over the years. But the biggest chunk of editorial real estate portrays 20 of Detroit’s most interesting, colorful and influential figures with our paper. We must admit that we stole the idea from an Absolut Vodka advertising campaign. That said, we picked our subjects because they represent the community that MT is proud to be a part of. And they are some of the key people who will define Detroit over the next 20 years.

There will be plenty of unexpected twists and turns along the way. Expect the Metro Times to be there to tell you about them. Larry Gabriel is a writer, musician and former Metro Times editor. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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