Detroit's Best Kept Secret
Just ask the local media

By
Eric C. Novack

 


On Saturday, September, 10th 2005, I worked a booth at The Dally in the Alley. From 11am till 11pm I talked to thousands of Detroiters from all walks of life, young, old, black, white, readers, writers, moviegoers, and music lovers. There were three stages with live music ranging from Punk to Jazz. Dozens of vendors showcased the best clothing and artwork our city had to offer. The food vendors sold ribs, gyros, chili cheese fries, smoothies and beer. By the time I got to bed that night I was spent, but yet somehow I was still filled with an unnatural energy that could have only come from the people that attended The Dally in the Alley.

The next morning as I walked my dog to the coffee shop I still had a little of that energy left, a spring in my step if you will. I started getting a little excited about the Sunday paper. I was sure The Dally in the Alley was front page news or at the very least a feature on the local news section. When I got to the coffee shop, got a coffee and the paper I could barely contain my excitement. So right at the register I started scanning through the paper. The front page didn't have the story I was looking for. The local news section didn't have it either. Even the Entertainment section had no mention of The Dally. Needless to say, I was pissed.
I immediately ripped out the part of the paper with all The Detroit Free Press editors emails. I emailed them all. This is what my email said:

YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES.

I can't believe it. I had a booth at THE DALLY IN THE ALLEY on Saturday and worked a fifteen hour day promoting and selling my local Detroit business. The morning I woke up filled with pride because the city I live in had an event with thousands of guests. So I went out and bought the Sunday paper and wouldn't you know it there wasn't one article on THE DALLY IN THE ALLEY. No mention of it on the front page, back page or even hidden in the paper with the most mundane news that no one ever reads.

Why is it the free press or the detroit news (I put the papers titles in lower case hoping they would recognize my disrespect) can not or will not support great events in our city. I have read better coverage of Detroit in THE NEW YORK TIMES. Even our weekly free circulars like the METRO TIMES, REAL DETROIT WEEKLY and THE RECORD seem to be able to give better coverage of our great city amongst there porn ads. I am sickened by this poor news coverage and finally am faced to abandon my support of the free press or the detroit news.

I would appreciate responses from all of the editors at the free press to the obvious disinterest in our city.

I would say "Thank you" but you don't deserve it.

Eric C. Novack
thedetroiter.com

A few hours later I was surprised and pleased to receive a response from a Free Press editor, until I read it that is.

I'm sorry. I'm not familiar with the event. Until the Free Press takes over the Sunday paper, in February, news coverage of Saturday events is handled by the Detroit News. Have you corresponded with their newsroom?

Ron Dzwonkowski

I emailed Ron back right away, thanked him for getting back to me and asked if he could give me a contact over at the Detroit News. A few hours later still waiting for Ron to reply (he never did) I just looked up the Detroit News editors on the web and found a list of thirty or so. I emailed every last one of them with the entire email, mine and Ron's.

The next morning I had almost forgot about the whole thing until I saw a reply in my mail box from Dave Butler at The Detroit News. He said

Thanks. I'll check in to it. I'm new to town so I ask you to understand that I'm not familiar with the event.

Dave Butler

At this point I think I snapped. Not only did this wonderful event happen in our city, my city, not get covered by one of our papers, the "editors" had never even heard of it. The Dally in the Alley has been going on for years. Decades actually. After I calmed down, I emailed Dave back and thanked him. He emailed me again later and suggested I contact the other editors about the coverage or lack there of…. Well I did, I contacted the other thirty the same time I contacted Dave. At least he got back to me. He stepped up to the plate. He didn't shuffle the blame around or ignore me all together. He might be new in town, but he already has proven to be a true Detroiter, which I appreciate.

Around lunch time my thirst for local media had not subsided. So I started calling the local television stations to ask why they didn't cover The Dally in the Alley. First I called Fox 2 news. Once I introduced myself and told them the reason I was calling I was connected to Debra Lawson, the news information manager. She was unavailable so I left a message. I called again a little while later. Same thing. So I called again and again. Finally I got her on the phone. But Debra didn't seem to be that well informed about the news, so she had me connected to L. Johnson the planning manager, but he wasn't in. Instead I talked to Dean. I told Dean why I was calling. He said "Hold on" then a minute later said "We don't have a comment at this time."

Channel 7 action news gave me pretty much the same kind of grief, until I got the planning editor Rod Liggons on the phone. The conversation went like this.

"The what?" That's Rod

"The Dally in the Alley." That's me

"I never heard of it."

"Really? Well it is a local event in midtown that has been going on for some twenty odd years. They got three stages with live music all day and a lot of local vendors selling there products. You should go next year."

"What was the name of it again?"

You get the idea. I felt more like a PR person for The Dally instead of a reporter asking why Channel 7 dropped the ball. Anyway, Rod said The Dally in the Alley was never discussed in their morning meeting and they never received any press releases on it. I guess you need to get a press release to know what is going on in the city that you cover. (Unless someone gets shot in the city. Press release or not, the news always manages to find out about that.)

That brings us to Channel 4, local news. Ah, the best for last. This was my conversation with the local 4 representative I talked to. (I've omitted her name here.)

"Hi this is Eric C. Novack from thedetroiter.com. I was wondering why local 4 didn't cover The Dally in the Alley this past Saturday?"

"The what?"

"The Dally in the Alley?"

"What's THAT?"

"Well…"

"Hold on."

A few minutes later.

"Hello?"

"Yes this is Eric Novack from thedetroiter.com. I was…."

"Did they send out a press release?"

"Um, I don't know. Should they have?"

"Well if we didn't get a press release then we wouldn't cover it?"

"Ok and your name is?"

She garbled her name.

"Great. How do you spell that?"

"Wait. Is this for a story?"

"Yes it…"

"I don't want to be quoted in a story. My managers wouldn't appreciate that."

CLICK

After I'd put this story together, the Detroit News managed to reprieve itself somewhat. Here's the email:

Mr. Novack:

Dave Butler passed your note on to me about our lack of coverage in the Sunday paper on the festival. We did write a story and run a complete listing of the event's schedule in our Friday Weekend Guide, advancing the event. There are many of these events this time of the year and we can't cover them all, unfortunately. We try to be fair and make sure we at least give advance coverage to an event even if we don't send a reporter to attend. We've covered Alley in years past.

This doesn't mean we are ignoring the City. In fact, our Sunday Metro section did have coverage of a new event this year in downtown Detroit - the Red Bull Dragsterday.

Thanks for your note.

Sue Burzynski
Managing Editor

All I can say about that is maybe the Red Bull folks did a better job of sending out a press release than those behind the Dally. Of course, being around 28 years, maybe they thought Detroit journalists would know about them. Somehow all the attendees showed up.

In the end maybe The Dally in the Alley is not newsworthy. Maybe thousands of Detroiters with different views and different cultures, hanging out together, having a grand old time is not what the local media wants to cover in Detroit. But to me The Dally in the Alley on Saturday, September 10, 2005 will always be front page news. And as for the local news, shame on you, SHAME ON YOU.

For info on Dally in the Alley, please click here.

Eric Novack is the author of "Killing Molly," founder of Elitist Publications, and thedetroiter.com…lit section editor.


© 2002 thedetroiter.com