Lame duck an endangered species?
June 09, 2010
I'm wondering if lame ducks aren't all that lame anymore...at least when it comes to our term-limited but still enthusiastic governor. The banquet hall at the Lapeer Country Club was packed last Friday morning to hear Jennifer Granholm address the economic club.
To punctuate her already peppy presentation, Granholm used PowerPoint slides to talk about the new, bigger and better ideas that will lead Michigan into prosperity. Plastered across many of them were headlines from the Detroit News, Free Press, Time magazine and others. (It appears this was the same presentation she gave in the Mackinac Policy Conference the next weekend.) In big, bold typeface the page one- liners characterized the roller-coaster ride everyone in Michigan experienced over the last three years. In so many words, they spoke to the gravity of business failures, the voters' displeasure with Lansing and the subsequent rebounds.
I suppose one could argue those headlines were simply handy visual aides but it was obvious throughout her speech that the stories and editorials these and other papers put out at least shaped and likely influenced the discussions and decisions in Lansing. And why not? Readers shape the content of papers just like they control the faces in the capitol through elections. Politicians, whether they'd like to admit it or not, need us. They need us to serve as a forum for important discussions. They need us to examine the policies that succeed and fail. They need us to keep them honest or in the case of a certain Detroit mayor, out them when they knowingly screw up.
Thanks to the work of dogged Free Press reporters, Kwame Kilpatrick has had lots of insults, worse than 'lame' or 'duck,' hurled his way.
Whether it's watching a politician give a fourth quarter pep talk or a disgraced former mayor walking into the slammer, people want to witness it all and newspapers will be the ones to deliver.
People are hungry for news. Newspapers have and should continue to play a role in the three party system that makes democracy work —papers, people, politics.
It's hard to make sense of a bill introduced in the Michigan Senate last month that would require reporters to 'register' with the state, but the bill's lone sponsor, Bruce Patterson, is right in one respect—overwhelmed with all sort of players, reliable news agencies are getting lost in the shuffle.
What a surprise...
Patterson is a lame duck himself and says he just wants to stir up debate and discussion on his way out the door.
Newspapers and print media are anything but lame ducks. We'll just keep writing about them and ruffle a few more feathers along the way.
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Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.