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GRIID Year in Review Part I – Monitoring Local News coverage of critical issues

December 19, 2022

It’s that time of the year again, where we offer up a review and revisit some of the most relevant posts from GRIID. We will be looking back at stories that focus on the Grand Rapids Power Structure, Social Movements in Grand Rapids, Monitoring the Far Right in West Michigan and a reposting of GRIID constructed memes. However, we kick off the year in review by looking at our ongoing critique of local news coverage.

There were a total of 42 times that we posted under the section Dissecting Local News for 2022. Not surprising, 14 of our posts were dedicated to critiquing how the local news reported on the GRPD, particularly the police murder of Patrick Lyoya. 

One of the things that we noticed in the reporting on the GRPD’s murder of Patrick Lyoya have to do with how favorable the coverage has been to the now ex-cop Christopher Schurr, with the example of a May article by MLive that presented Schurr as someone devoted to serving others. Our response to that story, was entitled, MLive article on Officer Christopher Schurr normalizes White Supremacy and White Saviorism. Another issue has been how the local news has framed the police murder of Lyoya once the court process had begun, as is evidenced in our post in late September, The ongoing court case and Grand Rapids news media coverage of the ex-cop who murdered Patrick Lyoya.

There have also been stories about the GRPD, that continue to show the local news media’s bias towards the GRPD. Two separate posts that we did are worth noting here. The first was a post in early January, where were documented how the local news essentially just regurgitated the City”s Press Release about a forum for the next Police Chief, When Press Releases become news stories: City of Grand Rapids sends Press Release on forum about new GRPD Chief, local TV stations regurgitate Press Release as news.

The second example of what could be called Copaganda, comes from an April story done by WZZM 13, about the group iCI Nation. iCI Nation is essentially a pro-police organization that has been active in recent years specifically because the public has been demanding greater scrutiny of how policing is done in the US and in Grand Rapids. The GRIID post was actually an Action Alert, since the WZZM 13 story provided no context or critical backdrop on the iCI Nation group.

News Coverage regarding those with power in Grand Rapids

One of the most important roles that news agencies can play is to hold systems of power in check, whether those systems are government or private power. There were numerous postings that GRIID crafted in response to how much of a free pass the local news media gave for those in power. One example was how the local news reports on those with power was from January. The wife of Fred Meijer, Lena, passed away in January, and the local news coverage made her out to be a saint, with MLive referring to her as having “a wonderful heart.” Our response was written to reflect the fact that the Meijer family is one of the wealthiest families in the area, which the local news coverage didn’t really address. A second example looks at how MLive reported uncritically on the DeVos Family Foundation hurricane relief donation in October.

When local reporting is PR for developers

New development projects are always being announced in Grand Rapids, but unfortunately the coverage does not challenge, question or provide amble contextual information for the public. There were six times that GRIID wrote critiques of how development project were covered by the local news media. 

One example GRIID looked at was an MLive story that was essentially based on a Press Release from the Right Place Inc, having to do with what they referred to as 12 Transformational projects. A second example, which is related to the 12 Transformational projects, has been coverage of the proposed soccer stadium, where the local news coverage fails to provide relevant context and issues around conflict of interest. A third example, looks at how public funds continue to be prioritized for tourism and private sector interests, over affordable housing and other urgent needs for thousands of families in Grand Rapids. Our post was entitled, It’s never a question of funding, rather priorities: Making the area around the Van Andel Arena more appealing or providing housing relief for marginalized families? 

There were other issues, like the 2022 election coverage, but we will provide more on that in another part in the series. In tomorrow’s post we will look at articles we posted looking at the far right in West Michigan. 

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