I’m no stranger to the media in Detroit. Having spent nearly four years at one of the local television stations, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside some of the absolute finest people in the industry.
At a time when news becomes more and more scrutinized for its coverage, whether that be on a local or national level, journalists now more than ever must uphold the strong foundation of the Freedom of The Press by getting all the facts right, telling the truth, acting as a watchdog for the public and presenting their stories in a fair, unbiased matter for their audience.
Detroit is a great news town. There’s never a dull moment in “The D,” and all our local television, radio, newspaper and online outlets do a tremendous job of hustling, day in and day out, to gather the news and bring it to us so we know what’s happening in our hometown.
In a day and age when they’re consistently asked to do more with less, journalists are faced with shrinking newsrooms, dwindling budgets and an audience that half the time doesn’t believe what they’re saying. Despite all of that, journalists in Detroit bring their “A” game every day to make sure we know what’s going on.
With that being said, it got me thinking… who are the journalists that inspire me and the rest of us here at Franco every day? The list of names is endless, and we certainly could make it 100 people or more, but I narrowed it down to the top 10 journalists in Detroit that continue to inspire me (in no particular order).
1. Ann Marie LaFlamme: This WXYZ journalist does it all. When she’s not telling metro Detroiters the best ways to get to work during her morning traffic reports, she’s filling in at the anchor desk, sometimes even at night on a completely opposite shift! She’s also known for helping catch the bad guys: her work with the U.S. Marshals Office for her Detroit’s Most Wanted segments highlight some of the area’s most wanted fugitives. In fact, the franchise just recently celebrated its 100th capture thanks to her reporting.
2. Ross Jones: When you think of investigative reporting in Detroit, one of the first names that comes to mind is Ross. He’s been helping expose corruption for years, and goes to great lengths to help tell his stories, like this 2014 report when he confronted ex-Detroit city council president Charles Pugh in New York City. Ross walked with Pugh for 15 city blocks, asking him tough questions about the ongoing investigation into Pugh’s alleged inappropriate relationship with a minor. He’s been a consistent face at Channel 7 for years.
3. Mara MacDonald: To put it simply, Mara is a hustler. As the nightside reporter at WDIV, she’s quick to cover breaking news scenes all across metro Detroit, bringing viewers the latest developments to break down everything that’s going on. Mara was born and raised here, so who better to bring the news to metro Detroiters than someone who’s been here for most of their life?
4. Mitch Albom: Mitch covers all the journalism bases. Whether he’s penning his latest column in the Detroit Free Press, hosting his daily talk show on WJR or writing his next best-selling book, Mitch has been a staple in Detroit and the national media scene for years.
5. John Carlisle: This award-winning journalist has been writing columns for The Detroit Free Press since 2013. His detailed, thorough and thought-out pieces about people and places that few others give attention to have garnered attention all across Michigan, as well as the rest of the country. Since starting at The Detroit Free Press six years ago, John has won nearly three dozen state and national awards for his writing, including two Emmy awards.
6. Neal Rubin: Neal is one of the best writers out there. As a features columnist for The Detroit News, Neal looks at things through a lens that allows the readers to learn about some of the best-kept and quirky secrets in metro Detroit. Neal grew up in Southern California before moving to Michigan in 1984 and has been writing columns for The Detroit News since 2000.
7. Vickie Thomas: We’ve heard Vickie’s voice on the airwaves of WWJ Newsradio 950 for nearly 30 years. Vickie covers all the news happening throughout the city of Detroit, and along the way, she’s won many awards showcasing her radiant radio work. Vickie was also inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame this year.
8. Charlie LeDuff: Say what you want about Charlie, but this Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has done it all, working in print (The Detroit News), television (FOX 2) and online media (The No BS News Hour podcast and Deadline Detroit). Charlie’s unconventional approach to journalism often includes a no-filter approach, saying whatever’s on his mind and speaking for the people of Detroit. He’s gone after politicians, judges and just about anyone else who might be a public figure in the city.
9. M.L. Elrick: Another person who inspires me and takes a much different approach than most journalists is M.L. Elrick. He has uncovered and exposed corruption in Detroit for years as an investigative reporter at FOX 2. He’s won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism and was one of the first to uncover scandals that led to former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s resignation in 2008. M.L. has also recently broken into the world of podcasting, hosting his weekly show “Soul of Detroit.”
10. Marie Osborne & Laura Bonnell: We’re rounding out our list with two incredible journalists who have both graced the airwaves in Detroit for years. Even though they’re at competing stations, Marie and Laura are two women who have been through some trying times over the past few years, yet they still manage to go above and beyond to bring us the news every day. Marie is a three-time Edward R. Murrow award winner; she’s also been honored numerous times by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and the Associated Press. Two years ago, she unexpectedly lost her son John at just the age of 25. John was the lead pit-master at Slows Bar BQ in Detroit, and in his memory, Marie and her family established a scholarship endowment at Schoolcraft College in Livonia to help culinary students. Laura has been with WWJ since the 1990’s, covering everything from Dr. Jack Kevorkain to president Clinton’s time in office. Laura is back in her second stint at the station. Her two college-aged daughters have cystic fibrosis, and she and her family are always trying to raise awareness and funds through their foundation. Laura says her favorite part of the job is interviewing all of the amazing people in metro Detroit.
So that about wraps up our list of the journalists that inspire us the most. Again, we would love to list a lot more here, but this is a pretty good start.
Who are some of the journalists here in the Motor City that inspire you the most? Let us know!
Jeff Sell is a senior account executive at Franco. You can reach him at [email protected].