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.