Monday, May 14, 2012

Kim Crawford's book gets front page coverage (in Pontiac but not in Flint)

(Update 7 p.m. May 14 - My friend Kim, who was never as upset about the non-invite to the book signing as several of his friends, called me to let me know he had heard from the Flint Journal and assured that any slight was unintentional. When the next Art Walk comes to town, he was told that he would certainly be invited to that event. Like Kim, I'll take them at their word that they didn't intentionally leave him out of the book signing event. So we'll move on to other things, for now).

Kim Crawford is a friend of mine, let's just get that out of the way at the beginning, I hired him for arguably his first job in journalism at The State News in Michigan State back in the late 1970s. What I saw in him was a fire that is necessary in any good reporter.

At the time I was Editor of the The State News. As an editor, I immediately fell under the heading of "goat brain" as far as Crawford was concerned after he was hired. Later we would work together as colleagues at the Flint Journal.

What some editors, especially young ones, don't understand is that with passion and fire for writing and reporting comes combativeness over the process. What a good editor learns is not to take it personally. Good editors learn how to use that fire and passion rather than trying to subdue it.

Unfortunately in the latter years that I was with the Flint Journal that fire and passion was not appreciated, but rather they unsuccessfully tried to subdue it. It seemed there was more concern over the neatness of a reporter's desk than the end product of their efforts.

Anyway, last week the Flint Journal hosted a book signing party at an open house. Invited were current and former reporters with books to sell. Those invited are good writers and have reason to be proud of their achievements.

Not invited was Kim Crawford, who has recently published a book, "The Daring Trader: Jacob Smith in the Michigan Territory, 1802-1825"  through Michigan State University Press that deals with the founding of Flint. It is much more than that, it is a history of early Michigan and a great tale of the role of a controversial fur trader named Jacob Smith.

It is well researched and written and I highly recommend it if you are at all interested in the history of our country.

Why would the Flint Journal not invite Crawford to such a party? After all, the heart of the book involves "Flint."

There is speculation that he was not invited because the current editor is not really a fan of Kim's. I simply don't know, but because she is not a fan of mine either, so I'm not going to ask.

As someone said on Facebook, it might say something about the coverage or bias of the current management of the paper that they use how they personally feel about someone when they make news judgements.

On the other hand, the Oakland Press, Macomb Daily and Royal Oak Tribune did a large piece on the book just today.

One former staffer at the Flint Journal suggested a big story on the book a couple months ago (they did do a short piece on Kim's appearance at the Sloan Museum) but was told "We don't write about former staffers."

That's true, except when they do write about them or invite them to book signings.


Anonymous said...

Journalspeak: "We don't write about former staffers."

English: "We don't write about former staffers if we don't like them."

The Journal used to be a paper of integrity. Now it's run like a sorority. How sad.

Anonymous said...

Journalspeak: "We don't write stories about former staffers."

Translation: "We don't write stories about former staffers if we don't like them."

Great moments in journalism.

Jim of L-Town said...

I think I double posted a comment, but they are slightly different so I left them both up.


Cooley's Dictum said...

I just gave the three articles a hasty glance because they all seem the same with minor differences. So, maybe I missed something. But if I'm right, how fitting that each article shows Kim as "a former reporter" with no mention whatsoever of where he worked. I'm diggin' it!

Jim of L-Town said...

Yes, it is the same article reprinted in three newspapers, but it was on the front page, at least in Pontiac.

Anonymous said...

Disclosure: Not an FJ employee, but am an avid reader of FFE. But I think you're picking on them without a full story here.

This is nit-picking, but "front page coverage"? The papers are owned by the same company, so it's easy to share stories across all of their websites. Whether or not the story actually appeared on the front pages in each of those markets in print is another thing. Perhaps you should show us some proof, or at least reword the post?

Secondly, back to the FJ -- I'm not seeing where Crawford or the MSU Press alerted the FJ of his new book. If Crawford had been on the FJ's radar, then maybe he would have gotten an invite. Did anybody ask if word of Crawford's book reached an editor's ears -- or is it all just "speculation" because former employees are involved? Let's get some more facts here before I can make a judgment.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Jim. Don't be so naive. We all know that once you leave The Family and no matter what you may accomplish in your life or career, the only chance you have of any mention in the paper is if you committed a crime (unless you are part of management, of course) or got yourself killed.

Anonymous said...

"Kim Crawford's book gets front page coverage (in Pontiac, Mt. Clemens and Royal Oak, but not in Flint"

And you say you only saw the Oakland Press. Since there's so much picking on every error the FJ makes, it can go both ways.

Cooley's Dictum said...

Anonymous at 14:25.

I first met Kim back in the fall of '05 when the Flint Journal had printed his lengthy article on Jacob Smith, early Flint history, fur trading, Smith's Reserve, etc. I seem to recall that his writing ran the course of a couple print editions on those topics.

Since I was also interested in Smith's life at Flint, I took advantage of the shared interest to contact Kim by email and we had quite the furious discourse over several days.

So I say -- on their radar? Hell, they ran it in their paper for at least a couple days! A follow-up, contemporary announcement of his publication would have been not only simple courtesy but good business.

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Anonymous:

In the interest of accuracy, the headline is now fixed.

They knew about the book. A former staffer told them months ago about it and they said "We don't write stories on former staffers."

They also did a blurb on Kim Crawford's speaking appearance at Sloan Museum back in March, so yes, they are very aware of Kim's book.

Hope that clears it up

Anonymous said...

Somewhere I read the estimate of people at The Journal that night was between 700 and 1,000. I was downtown that night, walked by The Journal, but did not go in. it's possible there were 700 to 1,000 people at the walk, but that does not mean they came to see the Journal or the writers. The writers were all from an era when the Journal was a much better newspaper, and other than the columnist selling a 10year old book, the other writers and their books have nothing to do with journalism. The Journals just riding their coattails. I wish Kim Crawford would have written a book about that gun story he did a long time ago. I don't remember the name or title of it, but it was one of the best pieces of newspaper writing I recall.

Jim of L-Town said...

I believe you are talking about the story "The 44-caliber killer" or something like that.

It was an amazing feature article and one of Kim's finest feature articles.

He is an amazing writer with extraordinary research skills. There are few as good as him.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I'm dense, but why is it necessary to wait for another Artwalk for the Flint Journal to acknowledge a book about the history of ... FLINT?

It's not as if it'd be knocking any Pulitzer Prize material off the Journal pages.