Activist’s outlet

Veteran TV producer and activist Ron Scott has blogged recently about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (her “strange and perplexing world”), about GM Chairman Rick Wagoner (his “tough love” prescription for the company noticeably fails to include a salary cut for himself) and about the firing of loser Lions coach Steve Mariucci (reminding readers of the strong black candidates who weren’t even interviewed when Mariucci got his gig 2003).

What Scott hasn’t written about — yet — is the early morning fire that tore through the antique-crammed paint store of Detroit gadfly Chuck Costa. Along with the memorabilia of Costa’s three mayoral campaigns and other artifacts at the Grand River Avenue store, the Nov. 21 fire consumed an upper loft that was home to Scott and housed everything he owned.

It’s still, Scott says, too raw, too upsetting to write about. Scott physically escaped the fire with about five minutes to spare; emotionally, he’s still in the throes of it. “I haven’t been able to sleep well; more than a couple of hours of sleep, I just can’t do it,” says Scott, who is living with a friend. Meanwhile, adding to his posts at the Detroit News Web site, he says, “has given me a certain level of normalcy.”

When he does write about his experience, Scott says he’ll probably address the lack of city services to help those with post-fire needs, the frustrations of getting information about arson investigations and the like. In other words, Scott will use his experiences fighting for the cause of police brutality victims and others; he’ll just happen to be the writer and subject.

Scott is one of a dozen or so political bloggers that the Detroit News currently presents; they range across the political spectrum and include News editorial writer George Bullard. Scott joined their ranks after a News reporter he happened to be talking to mentioned that blog contributors were being sought; Scott applied and has posted entries since July.

Although he’s written a couple of times about police brutality — the cause he’s most identified with — he’s made a conscious attempt to show the breadth of his concerns. “I have a ton of writing inside of me that I’ve gotten out,” he says, explaining the attraction of the unpaid blog forum.

From Scott’s perspective, mainstream papers are in a fix: “They’re losing market share; they’re losing credibility; they’re losing journalistic excellence.” And to state the obvious, he adds, the News is seen as leaning to the right, not necessarily in touch with the city. With bloggers, the paper is expanding the views presented and trying to engage readers. And the blogosphere, in general, Scott says, is generating excitement: “People are beginning to read again — in a different way.”

“Maybe it’s a good thing that we’re not being paid,” he says. “We’re not limited or controlled by virtue of whether we’re going to lose our jobs. It’s almost pure journalism, almost back to one of my heroes, Tom Paine. We’re people imparting common sense as we see it.”

He’s seen the reach of his blogging a number of ways, from feedback provided by politically active black Detroiters to an invitation to join an anti-war rally put on by Rochester activists.

But he was particularly touched by a thumbs-up response from a 17-year-old white kid in Sterling Heights: “That he’s ethnically and geographically in a different space than I am and that he can appreciate the difference of opinion gave me some hope for the future.”


A benefit for Ron Scott is set for 7-11 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Art Exchange, 2966 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-8116 or [email protected].

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