Inside the Newsroom @ A2 Journal

Welcome to Inside the Newsroom @ A2 Journal, a blog written by the newspaper's staff at A2 Journal, a new, weekly, community newspaper covering Ann Arbor. This blog is a place for members of the newspaper's staff to write their thoughts, observations, opinions and other informative pieces they put together while covering the rich history, interesting people, institutions and traditions that make Ann Arbor such a unique community.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Farewell, Jesse Bernstein

The Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce e-mailed the press release below. We thought it was newsworthy enough to add it to our blog. We also wanted to wish Jesse the best of luck.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ann Arbor, MI -- The Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce announced today that Jesse Bernstein has resigned as Chamber President and CEO.

On Monday, June 22, the Chamber Board of Directors accepted his resignation and discussed options for moving forward.

Chamber Board President Dr. Ed Pagani commented, “The Chamber is truly sorry to see Jesse leave, but we wish him the very best in his future ventures. His contribution to the organization, and the community as a whole, has been appreciated and valued.”

The Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce plans to conduct a search for a new president. In the interim, the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors will ensure that all Chamber functions and member support activities continue as normal.

The Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce is a 1,400-member community non-profit organization that actively facilitates, educates, and advocates on behalf of its members through our services and programs. Chamber member offerings include networking opportunities and events, educational seminars, leadership development, member-to-member discounts and access to health insurance.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Sunday Artisan Market

What a nice group of vendors at the Ann Arbor Artisan Market on Sunday.

And that's not just because they gave me a wonderful surprise when I introduced myself as a reporter for the soon-to-launch A2 Journal.

All of them had wonderful stories about how they decided to get into their art forms and try to make a living doing what they love.

Several said they'd heard the news of A2 Journal already and seemed genuinely happy to learn about a new weekly newspaper that will cover their town.

When I asked how they'd learned the news, they said they'd heard from vendors who saw Editor Michelle Rogers and I at the farmers' market Saturday. She was taking video and I was behind the camera lens, reporter's notebook in hand.

Although I had to get my grass mowed this afternoon, after all the delightful people I met at the farmers' market Saturday, I had to stop by to meet the artists today, if only for a few hours.

Today's first stop was the booth of Vickie Alexander of Lansing. Her stained glass pieces immediately caught my eye.

She said she's been working with glass for 32 years, but this was her first time at the Tree Town venue.

Alexander said she frequently sets up shop at the farmers' market in Howell, and although she seemed a little disappointed because her first-hour sales were slow, things had picked up by the time I stopped back an hour later.

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to purchase several of her pieces as birthday gifts for two friends.

Next stop was the booth of Judith Russell of Ann Arbor who had high-fire porcelain jewelry, beaded pieces and pottery. It's her third year at the market and she said the Kerrytown spot was a great way to spend a Sunday, regardless of how much (or little) she sells. "It's a community," she said, "as well as a sales venue."

She suggested I check out, a place where she also sells her contemporary seed-beading jewelry with a vintage flair.

And, she said she was having all kinds of fun with pottery, a medium she'd recently gotten back into creating.

The next work that caught my eye was Ann Sheppard's of Ypsilanti. She said many of her brightly colored wall hangings and kids' T-shirts were inspired by her almost 5-year-old son, Jack.

Sheppard said she's been creating her work since 1997, and this year she's added illustrations and photos to her pendants, as well as print on her fabrics.

Although I'd have liked to stay longer, I had to get back home to deal with the grass that had grown wild thanks to all the rain this week.

In two weeks, I plan to return and meet more of the clever artisans who spend their Sundays April through December selling the gorgeous creations they've made.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Meet the Faces Behind Ann Arbor Farmers' Market

The Ann Arbor Farmers' Market marks a milestone this year as it celebrates 90 years. This morning, Lisa Allmendinger and I met at the market in Kerrytown to talk with some of the vendors. She plans on featuring one each week in our new publication, A2 Journal. I also shot video and will produce that soon to be uploaded on MiCentral, a photo and video sharing Web site associated with our newspaper.

We met some wonderful people, who were so cheerful and happy to talk about their experiences at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market. Among the longtime vendors was Ray Blandwoski of Willis, who was selling beautiful begonias. He has been a regular at the market for three decades and has been selling begonias at the market for the last 20 years. His favorite colors are pink and apricot.

Debbie Marx of Flint, who has been selling her natural crystal and stone jewelry at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market for 18 years, was a great interview. She shared lots of interesting insight and information. Ann Arbor, she said, is "an earring town," but she has seen sales of her $5 and $10 necklaces pick up in the struggling economy.

A familiar name in western Washtenaw County at the farmers' market was Matthew Fusilier. His family, who farms 300 acres in Manchester, has been coming to the Ann Arbor market for years, selling up to 20 different items of produce and fruit.

A new face at the market was Laura Lannen, who is selling gourmet cupcakes at $3.25 each. She recently started La Cake in Ann Arbor, and has been a regular every Saturday with plans to start coming on Wednesdays in July.

John Savanna, owner of Mill Pond Bread, and his employee, Sarah Ladd of Ann Arbor, were super friendly, offering us some of their delicious baked goods. John has been a familiar face at the market since 1980. He offers 60 kinds of bread at his store near Chelsea. Sarah says she enjoys the multi-grain breads the most.

Another western Washtenaw County regular we talked to Saturday was Richard Andres of Tantre Farm. He has been coming to the market since 2000 and farming in Sylvan Township since 1989. Richard's produce and vegetables are certified organic and he has a huge following at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market.

All of these people, as well as market manager Molly Notarianni, will be featured in our video, so please check it out. It should be online by Monday.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair Celebrates 50 Years

The Ann Arbor District Library is hosting an exhibit celebrating 50 years of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair in the multipurpose room.
If you have time, check it out. It's worth the visit. Called Ann Arbor Art Fair, The Original, 50th Anniversary Exhibit, it runs through July 19.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Women's Exchange of Washtenaw

Wednesday's rain didn't dampen the spirits of a local group of women business leaders. Women's Exchange of Washtenaw enjoyed an evening of networking under a private tent at Top of the Park during the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. This was A2 Journal reporter Lisa Allmendinger's first official business for our new publication as she took photos of people at the event. Everyone we spoke to seemed receptive to a new newspaper coming to town and grateful for the local coverage. Here are some of Lisa's photos from the event.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scenes From Grillin' 09

In case you missed Grillin' 09.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Heritage Newspapers launches new publication

Heritage Newspapers will soon launch A2 Journal, a free weekly newspaper focusing on Ann Arbor, and this is our first official blog post. I thought I would post something in advance of publication to keep readers informed about what we're up to since we already have a lot of followers on Twitter asking questions and wishing us the best.

The new publication will be a home-delivered community newspaper covering what makes Ann Arbor unique, and will be distributed to 20,000 households in the Ann Arbor School District area beginning July 9. We plan to cover Ann Arbor government, businesses, schools, high school sports, youth sports, the arts and entertainment, and we welcome submissions from nonprofits, service clubs, community organizations and readers. This new venture will feature the interesting, quirky and traditional –– the people, places, traditions and events that define Ann Arbor.

I think it's a very exciting time for Heritage Newspapers. As newspapers are being shut down or scaling back publication schedules across the country –– including some in the Journal Register Co. chain, parent company of Heritage Newspapers –– we are launching one, and that's a testament to our belief in the viability of the Ann Arbor market. Like our sister publications at Heritage Newspapers, this new venture will be community-focused, which is what we do best. Many of our publications, including those covering Chelsea, Dexter, Saline, Milan and Manchester, have won state and national awards for news reporting, lifestyles writing, photography, newspaper design, column writing, commentary pages, enterprise stories, sports and general excellence.

In addition to myself as editor, A2 Journal’s staff will include Terry Jacoby as assistant editor, Don Richter as sports editor, Lisa Allmendinger as staff reporter and Mike Larson as sports reporter.

I will continue to oversee the seven Heritage newspapers covering the communities surrounding Ann Arbor, while Terry will serve as assistant editor and Don as sports editor.

A Pittsfield Township resident, I began my journalism career in 1992 at The Dexter Leader, and have held several leadership roles within the company during the last 17 years, including editor of The Chelsea Standard, The Dexter Leader, The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader. I also served as interim editor of The Manchester Enterprise. I helped lead the Chelsea and Dexter newspapers to their first Newspaper of the Year awards from the Michigan Press Association.

Terry, a resident of Commerce Township, most recently served as the editor of The Dexter Leader and Chelsea Standard and he will continue to help lead those papers. His 20-plus years experience in journalism includes stops at Heritage Newspapers’ The Ile Camera in Grosse Ile, The Sacramento Bee, Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., and The Detroit News.

Don has served as sports editor of The Chelsea Standard and The Dexter Leader since fall 2000 and Mike is a former sports editor at The County Press, a three-day-a-week newspaper in Lapeer.

Lisa is a familiar face around Washtenaw County. She has almost 30 years in the newspaper business as both a reporter and editor, and for the past several years has worked as a stringer for The Ann Arbor News, which plans to cease publication next month.

In addition to this blog, A2 Journal has established a presence on the social networking sites Twitter ( and Facebook in advance of its first edition.

Readers will soon find the newspaper, photos and videos online at, which will have links to local videos and this staff blog, Inside the Newsroom @ A2 Journal.

The new paper is part of the Journal Register Co., which owns 20 daily newspapers and 159 non-daily publications. The company operates about 200 individual and specialty Web sites that are affiliated with the JRC’s daily newspapers, non-daily publications and its network of employment Web sites.

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