Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

February 6, 2014

Phil Power: Informed public essential 'iron core'

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

Make no mistake: Detroit’s bankruptcy, the largest municipal bust in American history, puts the future of our entire state at risk. Although it’s easy enough for some people to claim that it would be better if Detroit sank into Lake St. Clair, the fact is that Michigan as a whole can never again prosper if its largest city remains a sinkhole of poverty, despair, corruption and violence.

The good news is that the positive response to this crisis has been unprecedented. An extraordinary coalition of foundations, both local and national, has pledged hundreds of millions to help the city. Overturning decades of conventional political wisdom, Mike Duggan — a white guy brought up in nearly all-white Livonia - has been elected mayor of Detroit, whose population is more than 80 percent black. And Rick Snyder, a Republican governor, is trying to persuade a sometimes Detroit-phobic Legislature to put $350 million into a “grand bargain” to help save the Detroit Institute of Arts — and ease the post-bankruptcy burden of city retirees.

And not least in all this: The launch Jan. 30 of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, a group of non-profit news outfits working together to share “data-driven, solutions-based journalism that deepens public understanding of Detroit’s journey through bankruptcy and engages residents in the revival of this once-powerful city.”

Those words are those of David Zeman, editor of the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine, which is partnering with WDET-FM, Michigan Radio, Detroit Public TV and New Michigan Media to pool hundreds of years of journalistic experience to help Michiganders understand the roots of Detroit’s crisis and provide insights the city’s future. The Cooperative is being funded by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

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