Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Results of our recent online polls

Results of our recent online polls:
How do watch newer movies at home:
39 percent: NetFlix or Blockbuster by mail
29 percent: Pay-per-view on cable
23 percent: Traditional movie rentals
10 percent: Watch on premium cable channels

Do you think summer will be:
63 percent: Hotter than normal
25 percent: End much too soon
12 percent: Quite normal
0 percent: Cooler than normal

When mowing the lawn, do you:
78 percent: Do it yourself
11 percent: Get a family member to do it
8 percent: Hire a service
3 percent: Pay a neighbor

How do fireworks figure into your Fourth of July celebration:

47 percent: Neither, not into fireworks
32 percent: Go watch professional fireworks show
13 percent: Some of both
8 percent: Do-it-yourself backyard fireworks


Thursday, July 22, 2010

I need feedback on the best and brightest from Saline and Milan!

I would like to put together a series of articles on the people that make Saline and Milan great cities to live in.
There are a lot of wonderful things happening in both places, and I'd like to hear about the folks who are central in putting everything together.
So, friends, family and neighbors, I'm counting on you to pass along the names and contact information of the people you know who are worthy of the spotlight given their involvement with civic functions,church groups, non-profits and the like.
Just send me an email at and tell me why the person, or people, you nominated deserve to be heard about.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A2 townie party was a blast

I hope many of you had a chance last night, as my wife and I did, to attend the annual pre-art fair tradition, the townie party.

Held on the grounds just south of Rackham Hall on North University, it is a collaboration of free music, giveaways and art created by local kids and teens.

My wife bought a lovely bracelet from a young artist for only $2, and the look on the girl's face when she made the sale was very sweet. It was a mixture of amazement, joy and pride all rolled into one.

There was row upon row of similarly wonderful art, and the prices were fantastic. It is good to know Ann Arbor incubates artists from such a young age.

The music attracted a large crowd as well, as did the many booths of local businesses and organizations giving away freebies and promoting what they do.

I talked with representatives from the proposed Ann Arbor Skate Park, who were raising funds and getting the word out about their cause. Many people, in fact, could be seen sporting temporary skate park tattoos that organizers were happy to affix to them, all in an effort to help raise the $1 million said to be needed for the endeavor.

All in all, my wife and I had a wonderful time and the rain held off until the later evening.

For those of you new to town this year, and who perhaps missed the event, try it out next year. It will give you a new appreciation for the calm before the art fair storm, and provide a new understanding of some of the best things going on in the city.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Medical marijuana: What are your thought?

I've covered two city council meetings in the last month in which Milan city leaders have addressed the issue of medical marijuana.
Many other cities and municipalities around the state, including Saline, have had to have similar conversations in the wake of state-level legislation that legalized the drug for those with certain health issues.
Saline imposed a moritorium.
Milan passed a resolution asking state leaders to clarify the ambiguity.
Much of the debate lies in apparent discrepancies between state and federal laws concerning marijuana, with the feds still technically able to prosecute licensed growers and users in Michigan.
I'd like to hear from readers as to what all of you think should be done about it, if anything, for an upcoming edition. Please email me at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Facing breaking news from the other side

Something serious happened last night. Not in Saline or Washtenaw County- but in Mount Pleasant, the city I reside in nine months out of the year, as a student at Central Michigan University.

There was a fatal shooting at a bar called The Cabin near CMU's campus.

I got a text message from a friend about a possible shooting at the local restaurant/bar. As a reporter for Central Michigan Life, I did what any reporter would do: forwarded it over to Central Michigan Life's Editor-in-Chief, Eric Dresden. He replied simply, "Yeah I'm here. It's bad Randi."

Even though I was in Grand Rapids, away from the scene and not involved with the development of the story, the shooting still impacted me as a reporter, especially since I work for Central Michigan Life during the school year.

The shooting also impacted me as an employee of The Cabin, the bar the shooting occurred at.

I have covered breaking news before. I've covered a fatal car crash and interviewed the father of the victim at the scene. This, on the other hand, was different.

I was afraid. My coworkers were in that building. My friends- work family. People I know, care about. Putting a face, multiple faces even, with a shooting is terrifying. It's not just a job anymore, covering breaking news. It's real.

After a terrifying drive home with a dead cell phone battery, not knowing what was going on, I tore through the front door toward my laptop and my phone charger. I found out all my coworkers were physically safe and unharmed, and then the second emotion began to jump in. Confusion.

One of my coworkers updated her Facebook status, stating that CM Life was the most "disrespectful, rude, awful publication ever" for the way the reporter and photographer at the scene covered the shooting.

This is the first time I've ever been able to somewhat put myself in a sources shoes, and gain a little bit of understanding as to how they feel after an incident this large.

When the building you work in has just been shot up, the last thing you want to do is submit to photographs and interviews from the media. When you've been working on a production day for 12 hours to put a newspaper together, the last thing you want to do is work for another three hours, covering a fatal shooting. It can't be easy for either party.

There's nothing illegal about interviewing and photographing witnesses to a murder. It's a touch insensitive, but necessary. How else is news going to be reported? This just struck me as different because it's the first time I've ever had a glimpse into the shoes of a crime witness, instead of looking at the situation from a reporter's angle.

I'm interested to see what further experiences similar to this one my career will bring.

This is the updated link to Central Michigan Life's story on the fatal shooting that occurred last night at The Cabin in Mount Pleasant, Mich.:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reality Check: Practice makes... perfect?

My first assignment was, needless to say, a frantic blur of nodding heads and pen jolted upon paper.
Being on my high school newspaper staff for two years now, I was prepared for smooth, suave interviews: administration strictly stating school dress code policies and off-campus lunch privileges in slow, monotone voices as I calmly (and cooly) took their words down on paper in neat print.
Journalism was always a step-process for me.
I first discovered the appeal of it as a ten-year-old who never stopped asking questions.
The first time a dinner party guest asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I blurted out, "Journalist," watching the word sink heavily into the air as her mouth puckered up in a surprised, "Oh?"
My dad chuckled, waved it off as a mere "fad".
I mean, after all, I'd wanted to be a ballerina, SeaWorld dolphin trainer, kindergarten teacher (When I was in kindergarten), and now journalist? Give it a break.
But the fad morphed into obsessively lingering over news magazines, daily newspapers, online journals; taking a primarily seniors-only Journalism class in ninth grade, where I sat in the front row, "FRESHMAN" stamped achingly across my forehead.
I joined the school paper staff my sophomore year at Pioneer High School.
After being on the Optimist staff for two years, pursuing a career in journalism is something I've become increasingly interested in. I see it as a field I can genuinely be passionate about -- a job that's not too much office work, never dry, never monotone, a job where you're always learning something. Asking questions and being able to receive the answers to them, to understand so much about an issue you previously had limited or zero knowledge upon, is invigorating. It gives me a sense of energy that I can rarely find within the pages of a textbook. Furthermore, journalism is crucial in a community -- it should be a reliable mode of perception, and obviously, information for members.
Now, with the newspaper print business slightly wilting (Psst:, I feel it's an even more urgent and exciting time for my generation to enter the arena. In an era where I -- and other youth like me -- have grown up with mainly media and technology molding our culture. We have the potential to shape the field leaning towards two modes we're familiar with; two modes we've had access to and will have access to that past generations have never had before. By going into the field, we're essentially delving and becoming a part of something looming and large that will completely reconstruct the past definition of "journalism" and "newspaper". With the Internet, we're able to incorporate multiple forms of media -- just take a look on the Heritage Newspapers web page. Video, photography slide shows, those are just the first few forms that have ventured into the new realm of digital journalism so far.
We have so much yet to unravel.
Which is one of the reasons why I decided to start interning for Heritage Newspapers this summer.
My experience up until this point with the field has been limited. As I mentioned before, many interviews I conducted with the school paper were very well-structured: interview a few members of the student body, who throw out a couple sentences that are readily inked on paper. Interview a teacher, who purposely talks slowly for you to obtain all the right words. Interview administration, who talks extra slowly; bring in a tape recorder to make sure you get the quote exactly right.
Don't get me wrong, working on my high school newspaper is one of the best decisions I've made thus far at Pioneer. It's helped me learn how to branch out, reach out to all members of the student body opposed to just one group. And it's definitely worthy in terms of gaining time management skills, public speaking skills, and people skills. I've learned a myriad about writing journalistically, editing, leading a group of people as well. Plus, being the first in on campus decisions always has its perks.
But working on a high school newspaper provides for a very narrow point-of-view for an aspiring journalist. Up until this summer, I had never really interviewed a member of the larger (non-school) community in-depth before.
Which is the other reason why I decided to intern for Heritage Newspapers.
Coming into the internship, I had some very narrow expectations.
My first assignment was a trip to downtown Ann Arbor, where I interviewed Michigan Peaceworks members about their satirical "Bake Sale for Bombs". It was a struggle. I'd never interviewed any member of the community before, and I found myself frantically trying to keep up with note-taking, question-asking, and listening all at once; skills that had before seemed so trivial and natural. I didn't own a reporter's notebook. I ended up jotting notes down all across my folder, which later, proved painful to decipher. It took me hours to come up with a decent headline. Everything seemed so bold. The need for accuracy and perspective was suddenly ten times as much as it had been for a school paper. Everything needed to be perfect.
Or did it?
Needless to say, I've had a reality check.
The past assignments and articles I've turned in so far have all been returned with hefty editing, and, in most cases, need revision and addition of new sources. But the editing process of this internship have, so far, taught me more than a year's worth of being News Editor of the Pioneer Optimist have. The interactions I've had with people -- in-person, email, phone -- have been remarkably refreshing. It's work, a ton more than I expected. But it's work that makes you energized when you see your article in print, online, you see that your body of words -- from the interviews, the photography, the typing of the article -- all that is teaching somebody, somewhere, more about an issue than they'd previously known.
It's a field where I'm learning. And not only about issues important to the community as a whole, but the right style, the necessary point-of-views needed to construct a story that will do justice to its readers, that will help others gain a clearer picture of a dilemma, an event,
maybe change somebody's opinion on a certain issue, maybe change their decision to vote for a certain party, or donate to a certain charity.
There's so much journalists can do and I've only started to gain a huge appetite for the possibility of it all. Hopefully that appetite is never quenched, hopefully the learning never ceases -- and neither does the teaching.
I can only cross my fingers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The excitement builds

As I came into work this morning, the 20' (perhaps?) Labatt Blue bottle in the middle of South Ann Arbor Road was my first indication today was to be no ordinary day.

The bottle is part of the advertising for the Bid for a Cure event taking place at the Brecon Grille in Saline this afternoon.

I walked over a few minutes ago and talked with one of the organizers, Shani Inge, wife of Detroit Tiger Brandon Inge.

She set up an interview with Brandon and I this afternoon (sweet!) and we went over the times for the major happenings.

She told me the Verve Pipe has a pretty loyal following and their show will be a big hit and, of course, the baseball players signing autographs will be a fan favorite.

The event kicks off in about a half-hour, at 11 a.m., and runs until the Brecon Grille closes at 12 a.m.

Come on over, meet some players, listen to some music, eat some food and support a worthy cause.

The picture is of organizers Shani, Corey and Kate.

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