Detroit has a host of well-documented problems – poverty, crime, street lights, mass transit – that hamper its recovery. But the ability to create jobs may be its biggest hurdle. More jobs could mean less poverty and more tax revenues to fix the many broken things. Bridge Magazine’s Mike Wilkinson maps where the jobs are and reports about efforts to create more employment around the city.
WDET, Wayne State’s public radio station, and its partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative will continue exploring the city’s recovery from bankruptcy and ongoing financial issues with an additional $500,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Launched at the beginning of 2014 with funding from Knight Foundation and Ford Foundation through funding to ZeroDivide on behalf of Renaissance Journalism, the partnership also includes convening partner Bridge Magazine, Detroit Public Television, Michigan Radio and New Michigan Media.
The DJC reports on Detroit’s bankruptcy and engages the community around the city’s revitalization. As a unique news-sharing project, the DJC focuses on outreach and enterprise, explanatory and solutions-oriented journalism. The partners’ work is showcased on the NextChapterDetroit.com website, which focuses on bankruptcy-related news.
By empowering and connecting the voices of Detroit’s residents with watchdog coverage needed to help citizens better solve their individual and collective issues, the DJC has sought to inspire dialogue and improve public policy to increase Detroit’s chances of recovery.
“Detroit’s continued success hinges on engaging residents to contribute to its growth and be part of the reinvention of the city,” says Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit. “By better informing people and opening avenues for them to help solve some of the challenges facing our city, the cooperative is helping to secure a brighter future for Detroit.”
In its first year, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative published hundreds of stories, blog posts and special reports as the city weaved its way through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. In 2014, partner content earned more than 175,000 unique visitors. DJC journalists also regularly appeared on broadcast programs, averaging some 200,000 listeners and viewers per week.
“The Detroit Journalism Cooperative is a terrific example of how collaboration by news organizations can have a positive impact on coverage and communities,” says Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism.
The new support will continue the work of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative into 2016.
“The Detroit Journalism Cooperative partners have a long history of working together,” says John Bebow, president and CEO of The Center for Michigan and Bridge Magazine. “Knight Foundation’s pioneering investment has formalized that collaboration. The cooperative had a good first year, but we’re just hitting our stride in terms of providing revelatory, forward-looking, multimedia coverage of Detroit, its neighborhoods, its businesses and its residents. The DJC is an innovative media public service for Detroit and the nation to understand and overcome the challenges faced by America’s traditional urban centers.”
In mid-April, Detroit Journalism Cooperative content created by WDET and Bridge Magazine earned 26 awards (including eight for Detroit Journalism Cooperative projects) in the annual Society of Professional Journalists Detroit chapter journalism competition. Those awards included first and second place in radio investigative reporting, first and third place for radio breaking news, second place for online blogging, second place for digital media presentation, third place in watchdog reporting, and honorable mention for online feature writing.
Earlier this year, WDET won “Public Radio Station of the Year” and collected 10 individual category awards in the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) Broadcast Excellence Awards for work in 2014. Several pieces related to Detroit’s bankruptcy case and future revitalization were honored, including broadcasts of two of the 12 community meetings the station held around the city.
DPTV and Michigan Radio also won MAB awards for DJC-related work. The State Bar of Michigan recognized WDET’s Sandra Svoboda, Courtney Hurtt and Joan Isabella for the station’s bankruptcy coverage with a McCree Award for the Advancement of Justice.
In addition, WDET’s Sandra Svoboda’s DJC work inspired the Wayne State University Graduate Public Administration program to name her its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus.
As Detroit has emerged from municipal bankruptcy, the DJC’s coverage has shifted to focus intensely on the challenges and opportunities in the city’s many neighborhoods.
Support for the DJC is one part of Knight’s efforts to help public news organizations establish long-term sustainability and advance excellence in journalism. Knight has made various other investments in the space, including the $5 million Knight Local Media Initiative, which has supported more than 50 organizations to date in developing new innovations in media.
About Detroit Journalism Cooperative
To focus on community life and the city’s future after bankruptcy, five nonprofit media outlets have formed The Detroit Journalism Cooperative (DJC). The Center for Michigan’sBridge Magazine is the convening partner for the group, which includes Michigan Radio, Detroit Public Television (DPTV), WDET and New Michigan Media, a partnership of ethnic and minority newspapers.
Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’sMichigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation, the DJC partners are reporting about and creating community engagement opportunities relevant to the city’s bankruptcy, recovery and restructuring.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more information, please visit knightfoundation.org.
WDET, Detroit’s public radio station, and Bridge Magazine won a combined 26 awards in this year’s Society of Professional Journalists-Detroit Excellence in Journalism contest, which is one of the largest journalism competitions in Michigan. The two outlets work together as part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative (DJC), a partnership of nonprofit media.
Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation, the DJC partners are reporting about and creating community engagement opportunities relevant to the city’s bankruptcy, recovery and restructuring.
In the SPJ competition, WDET earned 14 awards altogether, including six for DJC content. In the broadcast category, WDET claimed:
- 1st Place in Radio Investigative Reporting for the Detroit Agenda series. Judges’ comments: “Kudos to the team for reporting top-notch concrete stories on issues residents determined were top issues in the city.”
- 2nd Place in Radio Investigative Reporting for the Mayor Duggan at the Six Month Mark Series. Judges’ comments: “The reporters in this series honed in on the mayor – his promises and actions.”
- 1st and 3rd Place in Radio Breaking News for bankruptcy trial coverage.
In the online category, open to all print, broadcast and online media, WDET won:
- 2nd Place for Online Blogging for NextChapterDetroit.com, which features content from all DJC partners.
- Honorable Mention for Online Feature writing on NextChapterDetroit.com. The entry included “The Bike-ruptcy Bus Tour,” “Linked in Lansing? Michigan’s term limits and Detroit’s bankruptcy,” and “The ArtVest Report on the DIA: A history, appraisal of key issues.” Judges’ comments: “Well done. These stories are illustrative of the new forms of journalism that rock,
but don’t fit in traditional contest categories. Keep up the good work.”
Bridge earned 12 awards altogether, including four first place awards across the eight online division categories. Bridge earned two awards for DJC content:
- 2nd Place in Digital Media Presentation for “Duggan Donor Database: Big-time, Super PAC money comes to Motown.“
- 3rd Place in Watchdog Reporting for “Benchmark Detroit: Charting Detroit’s path from rock bottom.” Judges’ comments: “It is clear much work and research was done to produce these stories.”
In addition, WDET’s Sandra Svoboda’s DJC work throughout the year inspired the Wayne State University Graduate Public Administration program to name her its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus. She earned her master’s of public administration from WSU in 1997 and teaches as an adjunct faculty member in WSU’s Department of Political Science and at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Arts, Sciences and Letters public administration program.
Blight removal was a much-discussed part of Detroit’s bankruptcy trial. As head of the Blight Removal Task Force, billionaire Dan Gilbert took the stand and talked about the need for removing vacant homes. Then-Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr testified about how the $440 million contained in the Plan of Adjustment would go toward fighting blight over a decade. Mayor Mike Duggan has touted the pace at which the city is tearing down dilapidated structures. Now, Bridge Magazine, a Detroit Journalism Cooperative partner, maps out just where the city’s demolition efforts are focused and why. Click on the headline above for the article and find the link to the interactive map down the page.
Tavis Smiley, PBS’s popular late night television host, is in Detroit this week to tape five episodes of his award-winning program, Tavis Smiley. Detroit Public Television will film the show in front of a live audience at the Community Arts Auditorium at Wayne State University.
Tickets to be part of Smiley’s live studio are available by clicking HERE.
Smiley’s series of episodes taped in Detroit will focus on the city’s rebirth and recovery, paying particular attention to the bankruptcy’s role in rebuilding downtown, pressing issues facing Detroit residents, the Arab-American population in Dearborn, the city’s arts community and the problems facing inner city education.
Smiley has spent the better part of his career focusing on issues facing the African-American community. Starting out in local public radio in Los Angeles on KGFJ, Smiley went on to host social issue forums on C-SPAN as well as host and produce his own shows on Black Entertainment Television and National Public Radio. He has also published numerous books and essay collections discussing a wide range of topics from poverty to education and healthcare, and the Tavis Smiley Foundation helps fund programs aimed at developing young leaders in their communities.
Detroit Public Television is a partner with WDET in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.
Detroit exited bankruptcy with a plan to balance city budgets and improve services to residents.
While elected leaders have the responsibility of overseeing those actions, residents can help measure improvements – or declines – in their neighborhoods. They’ll get help learning to do that at two free events presented by Citizen Detroit. Dinner is included.
The “Dinner & Dialogues” are planned for 5 p.m., Wednesday March 25 and April 22 at the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, 111 E. Kirby. They are open forums where Detroiters can learn more about how the city’s post-bankruptcy “blueprint,” the Plan of Adjustment, was drafted and how it will be implemented, says Sheila Cockrel, former Detroit city councilwoman who is part of Citizen Detroit, a Wayne State University project aimed at educating and engaging the city’s residents in local government. It’s part of the Forum on Contemporary Issues, run by former WSU President Irvin Reid.
More information on the Dinner & Dialogue event as well as how to register for it can be found here.
“The idea was that regular Detroiters really want to understand the factual basis for the situations that the city was facing,” Cockrel says. “A hallmark of this program would be that we would deal in factual formation but also give people the opportunity to experience the complexity of making decisions.”
At the events, WDET’s Stephen Henderson, host of “Detroit Today,” and Sandra Svoboda, who covered the bankruptcy and blogs at NextChapterDetroit.com, will play the roles of Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes and Martha Kopacz, who was the judge’s “expert witness,” in the case. Working off a script based on her testimony in October, the duo will reenact Rhodes questioning Kopacz in court as part of the bankruptcy confirmation hearing.
“What we’ve done is excerpt the transcript because there’s multiple tiers and layers. It’s way too much information for one session. The part we’re going to focus on are the restructuring initiatives,” Cockrel says. “because that’s the place where, I think, are the things citizens really care about.”
Rhodes chose Kopacz as his expert witness after issuing an order that he was seeking an “expert witness” to assist him in assessing the feasibility of any bankruptcy settlement for the city. In late April, he selected Kopacz, of the Boston-based Phoenix Management Services (a business consulting firm,)
She reviewed the city of Detroit’s legal filings, budget audits and financial projections, and interviewed city officials to determine the feasibility of Detroit implementing its Plan of Adjustment.
In October, Rhodes questioned Kopacz in court about the bankruptcy exit and any suggestions Kopacz may have had. In short, she held a positive outlook on the city’s restructuring as it moved forward, saying the Financial Review Commission (established by Gov. RickSnyder to oversee the city’s finances as Detroit rebuilds) was a step in the right direction and that along with Mayor Mike Duggan should keep the city on track financially.
It’s nice to be recognized!
With gratitude to our sources, readers, listeners, those involved in the case and our other supporters, WDET is the proud recipient of 10 individual category awards in the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Broadcast Excellence Awards for work in 2014.
The station also won “Public Radio Station of the Year,” a huge honor!
Several pieces related to Detroit’s bankruptcy case and future revitalization were among the entries. The complete list of the station’s honored projects is below. Our partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, Detroit Public Television and Michigan Radio, also received awards in the annual contest.
And now we go back to work. Congratulations to all!
BEST in Community Involvement Category
The NextChapterDetroit.com “Community Lighting” meeting broadcast on Detroit Today.
BEST in Hard News and Current Events Story
BEST in Marketing Materials
For Kevyn Orr and the “Love Train” on Detroit Today
BEST in Membership Appeal
This is What Pat Says – Spring 2014
BEST in Special Interest/Cultural Programming
“Blue Collar Musicians”
BEST in Newscast
Morning Newscast 8-12-14
MERIT in Community Involvement
The NextChapterDetroit.com “Blight” meeting broadcast on Detroit Today.
MERIT in Membership Appeal
MERIT in Mini Documentary or Series
Detroit Agenda Series
MERIT in Station of the Year