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GRIID End of the Year Review Part III – Monitoring the Local News

December 27, 2018

In our continuing look at the major themes we have reported on for 2018, Part I was about monitoring systems of power and oppression in Grand Rapids and in Part II we chronicled local social movements.

In our third and final post for 2018, we look at our watchdog reporting on how local news media has covered critical issues in this community.

As we mentioned in Part I, we regularly monitor what Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is doing in her position. While this is not necessarily a function that West Michigan news media are required to fulfill, it is something that they could do as a way of continuously investigating local ties to federal policy. 

One of the major themes in our critique of local news media has to do with how they report on local government policy. For instance, in late January of 2018, MLive provided an overview of former City Manager Greg Sundstrom’s 8 years in that position. We pointed out how limiting that story was and provided a different perspective on Sundstrom’s 8 years as City Manager. 

There were numerous stories we critiqued that had to do with the GRPD and community relations, beginning with a January 30th GR Press editorial.  Here are a few more articles we dissected when it came to the GRPD:

Another “West Michigan Nice” response: GR Police Chief says we need more cops on anniversary of black youth who were held at gunpoint by the GRPD 

GRPD’s Youth Interaction Policy provides no real evidence that they will not continue to hold youth at gunpoint in the future 

MLive, a pro-policing narrative and the lack of radical imagination 

Another theme in our Dissecting Local News Media work involved how the news media dealt with how they covered those with the most power in our community. We already noted in Part I that the coverage of Rich DeVos’s death was nothing short of canonizing the billionaire. 

However, we also wrote critiques of MLive’s reporting on Amway and DeVos family philanthropy

We also dissected how the local news media reported on Jeb Bush’s talk at the 2018 West Michigan Policy Forum conference. 

Immigration and immigration policy was certainly a topic that the local news covered and we critiqued how they reported on what Sheriff Stelma had to say, how they reported on rally to End the Contract at the Kent County Jail how a public access TV station presented the ICE contract with Kent County issue a look at how an immigrant-led protest was framed and local coverage of a racist response to migrant workers

One last area we looked at was how local news media dealt with historical events and people. MLive’s eulogy for Billy Graham was standard reporting on how the white preacher cozied up to power, without any real critique of his role within systems of power and oppression. 

We also provided a critique of a Michigan Public Radio series on the 1967 riot in Grand Rapids

GRIID began as a local media watchdog and we think it is important that part of our work continues to monitor how local news reports on issues of the day or how they fail to report on issues that impact the community.

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