News lite 

This column has heard that at least a few Detroit News reporters are unhappy with the paper’s “Real Life, Real News” initiative. There are two problems with the effort launched in October, gripe our sources. One is that the policy puts too much emphasis on soft features, taking valuable resources and space away from hard news. The other worry is that attention may be increasingly shifting toward the suburbs, shortchanging Detroit.

Calls to Mark Silverman, the News’ publisher and editor, and Everett J. Mitchell, managing editor, were not returned. We did talk to former News reporter John Bebow, now with the Chicago Tribune. Our sources told us that Bebow was less than thrilled with the initiative, expressing his displeasure to comrades before heading west. But in a brief interview with News Hits, Bebow defended his old team. He also took a swipe at us.

“The people at the Detroit News are interested in doing the best journalism they can do,” he said. “The goal is to do great community journalism. Their efforts are underestimated by other media organizations that like to cover them. Metro Times likes to snipe at the dailies. To me, you’re constantly looking to find the follies.”

Well, yeah, but they make it so easy.

Unless, of course, you think a story about someone getting his first bald spot is an example of great community journalism. According to an internal News document, that is just one of the many “impressive” ideas Newshounds “brainstormed” during recent Moments of Life/Real Life, Real News training sessions. (This initiative, we’re told, is being pushed throughout Gannett, the paper’s parent company.)

From puberty to menopause, births to funerals, attending that first R-rated movie or getting your first speeding ticket — these are the kinds of “key collective experiences” News honchos want their troops to start giving more ink to.

Can you say “fluff”?

Of course, we could be completely wrong. If so, News Hits makes this promise: We’ll eat this column when the Detroit News runs a piece called “Billy’s first drive-by shooting.”

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