Wes Thorp, an experienced blogger, blog coach and student of social media, is a former newspaper reporter and a retired staffer from the Michigan Legislature. He has served as the manager of the State Capitol press corps from the 1970s to the 90s where he was a conduit between the news media and the legislature, the executive branch and interest groups. He also worked for newspapers in Illinois and Michigan after graduating from the Michigan State University School of Journalism where he was a part-time adjunct instructor teaching basic newswriting.

8 responses to “What will the death of the Lansing State Journal mean to our city?”

  1. SusanRoseBud

    I think that the owner of the LSJ, Gannett Corp., has sacrificed sustainable papers such as the LSJ used to be in order to prop up non-sustainable papers like the Freep. Instead of having a few good papers fulfilling their proper roles as watchdogs, they would rather have a lot of pee-poor papers not doing any job except bringing in a straggling few ad dollars here and there but keeping up the print count overall to maintain Gannett’s stranglehold on the market. It’s pathetic to see what the LSJ has devolved into.

  2. Bonnie Bucqueroux

    Wes, you put into words what a lot of us have been thinking for a long time. Here’s a quiz about Lansing media that I have been playing around with. It would be interesting to see whether your visitors agree with this assessment:

    WHICH LANSING MEDIA ARE YOU?

    I am a young public relations professional who only wants to hear good news. (Capital Gains)

    I am an old right-wing crank who lives for the joy of leaving nasty comments at the bottom of online stories. (LSJ)

    I should be living in Ann Arbor. (WKAR/Michigan Public Radio)

    I like playing Sudoku between classes. (State News)

    I am a fabulous person who keeps up with the times and cares passionately about my local community. (Lansing Online News)

    My lips move when I read and the only news I care about is sports scores, school closings and the weather. (WILX/WJIM)

    I like reading long, meandering articles without any index to act as a roadmap. (Lansing City Pulse)

    Too harsh? Too kind? Or Goldilocks – just about right?

  3. Dick Hathaway

    Yes, LSJ is a shrunken shadow of what it was just a few years ago.

    But, part of the problem is that many former readers just refuse to support their own local newspaper and rather than buy or even look at the LSJ bemoan the terrible abyss into which it has fallen.

    Losing the LSJ will be a tragedy for our community. The City Pulse, online media, and broadcast media are not a replacement for a vital community newspaper covering local. national, and international news. And, are difficult to ponder with toast and coffee each morning.

  4. Rob South

    Thanks for posting this Wes. And thank you Bonnie for your insight (for the record, I used to live in Ann Arbor).

    This is a very difficult time for local media. But with challenges come opportunities (or something like that). I don’t pray for the survival of any individual media outlet in Mid-Michigan. I pray that those who care about what happens in their communities will recognize the importance of quality, reliable information.

    How many people does it take to cover a city like Lansing and a region like Mid-Michigan? Those people cost money…and you get what you pay for. I would love to see an organization or organizations find a realistic and durable way to finance journalism in this region. I don’t think Ganette is that organization. Perhaps it’s Lansing Online News. Maybe it’s WKAR. Or maybe, by some miracle, we all work together.

    Rob South, Reporter/Producer WKAR

  5. Bonnie Bucqueroux

    There’s a reason they make both chocolate and vanilla. I agree with Rob South that waiting for Gannett to invest in quality journalism is like waiting for the fox to come up with a retirement plan for chickens. The non-profit model offers much more opportunity for journalistic independence, but even then, I would argue that most existing models are far too timid. It’s akin to academic freedom – the people granted the freedom are almost always those who have proven they won’t speak out. Remember that the prevailing concept of journalistic objectivity was not introduced as an ethical solution to a problem of bias – it was a corporate commercial decision designed to broaden the audience by not offending anyone. LSJ has been a toothless watchdog for years. Now it appears they don’t even send a reporter to City Council. That’s not a failure of investigative journalism – that’s just a failure. I am beginning to think that journalism is too important to be left in the hands of the professionals. Could the citizens do a worse job? I think of Tom Paine and his pamphleteering as the model for a new online citizen journalism. Passion may ultimately prove more important than a paycheck.

  6. Angela Vasquez-Giroux

    Why not start something insane: one of those great non-profit journalism models? Something like http://www.propublica.org/

    I am certain there are other ventures, some where journalists come together and tackle a specific issue, some where journalists are pulled in to a new business, etc. There’s a lot slipping through the cracks, and it’s because there’s simply not enough people who think they ought to pay for news. If every person who complained about the LSJ instead gave money to a non-profit media outlet, imagine what could be done.

    Bonnie, your comment about the media outlets made me laugh out loud. I, too, wish CP had a table of contents.

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