As vice chairman of the Free Press unit of the Detroit Newspaper Guild, I am not accustomed to defending my bosses. But Jack "Less 'N Factual" Lessenberry's latest jeremiad against the newspaper leaves me no choice ("Slow death of the Free Press," Sept. 24). The old business model — subscribers subsidizing newsgathering — is dying. Yet more people than ever before are reading and viewing Free Press journalism, thanks to our splendid freep.com. Since Gannett bought us, both papers began publishing separate Saturday editions (a gain for Detroit) and the Free Press got its Sunday edition back.
Under the leadership of Editor Paul Anger, Executive Editor Caesar Andrews and Managing Editor Jeff Taylor — none of whom, as Lessenberry would have you believe, are despised — the Free Press mounted a hugely expensive Freedom of Information lawsuit that exposed then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's secret deal to bury the text messages we nevertheless unearthed and published. They also expanded our repertoire to include video and bold innovations in print and on the Web.
Lessenberry describes the Free Press as "once great," but more eminent journalists hold us in higher esteem. Over the past several months, the Free Press won the Associated Press Managing Editors' prestigious Public Service award; the Society of Professional Journalists' top prize; two national Emmys; and five Michigan Emmys. Everyone here wants more reporters and photographers. But even The New York Times has cut its staff.
Unlike Lessenberry, I'd like to offer something constructive to anyone who thinks they know Jack about journalism in Detroit: Quit your bitchin' and get a subscription. We need your support now more than ever. —M.L. Elrick, Detroit Free Press staff writer
Since Republicans such as myself are always on call to make fatuous observations about politics and money, I should like to respond to the turgid letter of resignation composed by Khary Kimani Turner in the wake of your post-Kilpatrick cover story. Mr. Turner is quite correct in noting that neither you nor the local press went into a rabid hyperdrive over Messrs. Hackel, Cox and Patterson, but the public and private misdeeds of those individuals did not produce an injurious financial penalty borne by citizens who work hard, obey the law, have more than a passing regard for the truth, and generally expect similar qualities in their elected officials. Those are the people who have been wronged in this matter, not the former mayor of Detroit. —Robert del Valle, Rochester
I think Detroitblogger John's piece "In the city, off the grid" (Sept. 17) is marvelous. Not only has this man become completely self-sufficient, but he has managed to cast off commodities and useless objects and live in the now, not in the next. I think if more Americans, or people in general, were as apt and clever as Glendale Steward, the world would be a whole different place. He is truly free. —Achille Bianchi, Detroit
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