Imagine having an advocate who communicates to thousands and perhaps millions of people, including the top decision makers in the land. Imagine this advocate making a compelling argument on a matter crucial to your survival. Imagine this advocate performing this service for free!
In this instance, the advocate is the Detroit Free Press and the beneficiary of this service are the three Detroit-based automakers whose future hangs in the balance of Washington politicians.
On most days, newspapers use their front pages to chronicle the news as it unfolds. Sometimes they analyze the news in this space as well. But rarely do they use this prime real estate to play the role of advocate for a cause.
Last week, the Free Press took the unusual step of writing an open letter to Congress on the front page advocating a bailout of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The paper then delivered 1,000 copies of the front page to decision makers in Washington. Editor Paul Anger explained the unusual step in a letter to readers.
This was a brilliant move that demonstrated the paper’s passion for its community. After all, in the end, newspapers are advocates for the cities and towns they serve.
Sound surprising? Think of your newspaper as a negative, critical enterprise that tears down rather than build up?. The realit is, demonstrating a passion often means pointing out the flaws with the goal of triggering improvement.
In Detroit’s case, there is little choice that the bailout of automakers will affect Detroit for generations.
How could a newspaper not react with passion to this fundamental cause?