Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

Home · Articles · News · Region Watch · Ross Child‘s Report
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Ross Child‘s Report

Anne Stanton - July 27th, 2006
As promised, Ross Childs has submitted a huge report—a book really—in the hopes of taming the aggressive and “biased” reporting of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Childs, who spent 25 years as top gun of the Grand Traverse County government, mailed the report over the Fourth of July weekend to Peter Kann, chairman of the board of Dow Jones & Company, which owns Ottaway Newspapers, which owns the Record-Eagle.
He said he hasn’t received a response yet.
Childs said he prepared the report out of his belief that the town needs a “credible” paper. He alleges that it’s hard to tell the difference between the Record-Eagle’s straight news reporting and the editorials—claiming that both have such a strong point of view. He also dislikes that the paper repeats the same negative news in follow-up stories and editorials.
“My wife said we live in one of the best cities, and if you read our paper, you’d think we lived in one of the worst.”
The newspaper is inarguably more aggressive under editor Bill Thomas. It has run critical front-page stories that range from a Northwestern Michigan College program that drained $1 million from college coffers each year to several articles on state Sen. Jason
Allen, who is vying to become the next senate majority leader. A major story was about the $8 million septage processing plant that partly collapsed 30 days after it was built.
Childs is in many ways connected to these stories, either as a friend to those whose judgment is questioned, or directly—he sits on the board of Northwestern Michigan College and works as a consultant on how to resolve the Grand Traverse County septage plant dilemma.
Editor Bill Thomas said the newspaper is simply doing the job newspapers are supposed to do—reporting about the abuses of public office and protecting taxpayers. He said that complete strangers have emailed him and stopped him on the street, saying, “Keep it up.”
“We have had a great response,” Thomas said. “Carol (his wife) and I were shopping at a store, and the shopkeeper recognized me and said, ‘We’re with you Bill.’ I walked outside to this 4-H stand and the woman there said, ‘You’re Bill Thomas aren’t you? Keep it up!’ It’s just been very, very heartening. These are the people we write for, the people we publish this newspaper for, not the people who are dedicated to secrecy.”
The newspaper is apparently not backing down, having just run another critical story on State Senator Jason Allen.
Childs said that about 250 individuals contacted him and helped him collect 875 signatures (still more are coming in). Those signatures along with 30 letters of complaints and in-depth analyses of eight articles were indexed and shipped off to Peter Kann.
Petition signers have come from the six-county area: Antrim, Benzie, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Kalkaska.
“It started out as a small thing. I thought I’d do four or five articles and get half a dozen letters. What made this change was when your [June 22nd Northern Express’] article came out,” Childs said.
Ann Reed, publisher since May 22, pointed out that 875 signatures out the paper’s readership of 100,000 is not a large percentage.
“It hasn’t hurt our circulation,” Reed said. “Our circulation is dead even with last year, which for the newspaper business is a very good thing. The website viewership is growing by leaps and bounds; 30 percent year after year. And we have not noticed any impact on advertising sales”
Still, Reed does not want to get into a slugfest with Childs and his group of supporters.
“It doesn’t serve the community very well. I want us to continue to report the news, to be fair and accurate, and to not hold back. We also need to restore good civil relationships with each other.”
Since Childs began this project, rumors have been flying. Childs acknowledged that he has been meeting and talking with former Record-Eagle reporters, but denied that he has talked to local auto dealers about pulling their ads and putting them into the Grand Rapids Press.
What about the rumor of looking for a new buyer for the paper?
Childs said that he has formed a group that has outlined some options if the Record-Eagle won’t budge. He declined to elaborate on those options until he hears back from Dow Chairman Peter Kann.
“Our first purpose is to try to bring it back to credibility,“ Childs said. “Some even and fair reporting. If we can’t get it done with the Record-Eagle, we have to look at other newspapers... I have researched the business of publishing and it’s been an enlightening experience. I’ve learned a lot about the Record-Eagle and where some of the dissatisfaction is... Newspapers might not be a very good investment in their present format. You look at the annual reports from Dow Jones and Dow Jones has been divesting themselves from their local papers over the years. A lot of [newspaper] advertising has gone to the Internet. People are saying, Internet is the new thing.
“The paper I would love to get here is the Grand Rapids Press,” Childs said. “They’re a good paper. I get it periodically.”
Yet the word on the street is that the Grand Rapids Press is discontinuing its circulation north of Cadillac. The paper’s publisher Dan Gaydou hedged his answer about the paper’s plans: “We are always evaluating our routes. I can’t tell you for a fact [that we’re discontinuing delivery in Northern Michigan], but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Gaydou said that Childs has not contacted him.
Childs said his effort to change the newspaper has nothing to do with the yes-vote effort on the controversial Traverse City parking deck, which he supports.
Last question: What about mediation?
“I haven’t really considered it, but that wouldn’t be ruled out. I think mediation is a great idea,” Childs said.
Said Reed: “I really can’t comment one way or another and partly because I haven’t seen the petition or the specific issues he has problems with. Once I have a better understanding, we can make a good judgment of where we go from here. I will say, it’s important that we all heal as a result of this. I don’t think we can continue on the way we are.”


Bus Bliss
It sure was controversial when it was first proposed, but at last Friday‘s dedication of the new bus Transit Center on Hall Street in downtown TC it was smiles & high-fives all around for mass transit in the region.
The Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) celebrated by inviting the public to ride its buses for free all day with prize drawings, hot dogs and refreshments at the new station.
The new BATA Transit Center makes possible expanded bus service with scheduled stops throughout the Grand Traverse area – including service for Leelanau County. The Transit Center offers restrooms, comfortable seating and will be staffed during service hours. Free wireless Internet access will soon be available. Long distance commercial bus service is now available.
“This facility represents a giant step forward in addressing the need for viable public transportation in our area,” said BATA Executive Director Joe DeKoning. “Having a permanent transfer point greatly expands our capacity to deliver dependable, comfortable and convenient service.”

 
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