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, July 29, 2009

Swine judging

Before beginning my judging assignment today at the Washtenaw County 4-H Youth Show at the Farm Council Grounds, I stopped by the swine judging, and had my camera handy.
Aren't these the cutest faces?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bad Things Happen

Ann Arbor's Harry Dolan was at Border's Tuesday night for a book signing and reading of his first mystery "Bad Things Happen."
After hearing him read passages from it, I forked out the money, and can't wait to kick back and read this novel that's set in Ann Arbor.

Robotic Surgery at St. Joe's

What I won't do for a great story.
My friends will tell you that I am a complete weenie when it comes to anything that involves blood, needles or hospitals.
Yet, when offered the opportunity to learn about Leo, the da Vinci robot, at St. Joe's and talk to Dr. Robert Cleary who soon will begin performing colon and rectal surgery with this new technology, I faced my fears. And went.
All I can say is WOW!
I don't want to give away the story before it's time, but you can read about my experience next Thursday in A2 Journal.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Party Time in A2

A2 Journal held a kick-off party Wednesday night to celebrate the launch of our new newspaper, which made its debut July 9. The event was held at Kensington Court Hotel near Briarwood and I would estimate 50 people showed up. I met new people, including Tamara Real and Angela Martin-Barcelona of the Arts Alliance, and mingled with some friends -- Donna Fisher and Barb Bell -- from my days as a reporter covering Dexter. Barb is director of Community Education for Dexter schools and Donna is on the Village Council. Our publisher and advertising department staff also met with many business people interested in supporting our new venture through advertising.

The most difficult part of the evening for me was having to speak in front of the crowd. I got a "C" in speech class at Eastern Michigan University and have always struggled on this front, even though I've had to emcee Chelsea's Citizen of the Year program and I led a funeral for a friend's daughter.

It was embarrassing, to say the least. I was short of breath, I talked too fast, I lost focus, I read straight from a script, and I didn't give all the accolades that I had wanted to the members of my staff, in particular Deputy Managing Editor Terry Jacoby, whose artistic genius is behind the whole look and feel of the paper.

For those who missed out on the event, I've pasted below my speech, which wasn't much, but I wanted to share my enthusiasm for this new paper and the town I call home. Unfortunately, a video of my speech didn't turn out. Someone forgot to press "record." Really, it's true. I would have shared it with the entire world, but there's no trace of it on the video camera.

Welcome, everyone. Thank you for coming.

This is probably the time a Dale Carnegie class would have come in handy. Unfortunately, it’s still on my to-do list, so please bare with me.

This is an exciting night for all of us at the Ann Arbor Journal.

I, for one, am thrilled that we’re publishing a newspaper in the city I consider my hometown.

I grew up in Northfield Township, between Pontiac Trail and North Territorial Road. As a teenager, I started saying I was from the “north side of Ann Arbor,” even though it was technically Northfield Township and I went to Whitmore Lake Schools. But it was cooler to say the north side of Ann Arbor. By the way, I got labeled a “snob” in high school over it.

I have always considered myself an Ann Arbor resident, even though I didn’t grow up in the city. Ann Arbor is where I first learned to drive; it’s where I had my first date; and it’s where I got my first job in high school. It’s also where I got my first traffic ticket, but we won’t go there.

As a kid, I rode my bike to central campus and explored the downtown, local parks and, what kid in the ’80s could resist Pinball Pete’s? As a preteen, I rode the AATA bus everywhere. It was the passage to my freedom until I finally earned enough money to buy a car.

Ann Arbor has always been my playground –– a place to escape to after a long day at work or find some weekend fun. It’s also the place I’ve kept tabs on over the years in terms of what has been going on with local government, the schools, politics, business, cultural offerings and events.

I live in Pittsfield Township, or the "east side of Ann Arbor," now. Although I have an Ypsilanti mailing address and phone number, I am within the Ann Arbor School District and, to this day, consider myself an Ann Arborite. It will always be my home and I am thrilled to have a hand in assigning some of the stories that will come out of the community, editing the many articles Lisa Allmendinger, Jana Miller, Terry Jacoby and a number of other contributors will be producing, maintaining our Web site and social networking presence, and helping to design the pages that form the final product that will be dropped off on your doorsteps every Thursday or that you pick up at local stores.

We will concentrate on the people, places, events, institutions and traditions that define Ann Arbor. The schools, local government, high school sports and youth sports will be a high priority, as will stories on local business and features on the many interesting people who make Ann Arbor great.

I’d like to introduce you to the people who will have a hand in all of this. Our Ann Arbor staff includes:

Terry Jacoby, our deputy managing editor, who also does a lot of reporting, as well as layout and design.

Don Richter, our sports editor, who will be covering sports at Skyline High School.

Lisa Allmendinger, our staff reporter, with local roots in the community (check out her video in Allmendinger Park if you haven’t already).

Jana Miller, our staff reporter, who will be covering local business and writing a column.

Mike Larson, our sports reporter, who will be covering Pioneer and Huron high school sports.

Ed Patino, our sports reporter, who will be covering Gabriel Richard and Greenhills.

Many of you, I am sure, read about them in our first edition.

Also of special interest is Ryan Michaels, our award-winning movie reviewer who is a student at Emerson School and lives in Ann Arbor.

In addition, here with us today are reporters and editors who contribute to the six other papers we produce in Washtenaw County. As many of you know, we also publish The Saline Reporter, Milan News-Leader, Chelsea Standard, Dexter Leader, Manchester Enterprise, Ypsilanti Courier and the View in Belleville.

Austen Smith is a copy editor and reporter.
Jeremy Allen is a reporter.
Daniel Lai is a copy editor and reporter.
Sean Dalton is a reporter.
and Krystle Dunham is a reporter.

You may see some of their bylines in the Ann Arbor Journal, as well, as we all work at a team and will be producing some stories of regional interest.

I encourage people to call or e-mail me. We’re always interested in story leads and any local news that you want to share. My e-mail is and my number is 995-NEWS.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ann Arbor Reskilling Festival

Attended the first Ann Arbor Reskilling Festival at Rudolf Steiner High School this morning and was more than willing to try a 'decoction' made from local herbs brewed by students from the Gaia School of Herbal Studies/Naturopathic College of Ann Arbor.
Learned about Transition Ann Arbor and a new effort to use less oil, provide for ourselves and the community, build on the practices of our grandparents, and strengthen our local economy.
Something worth thinking about.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Is A2 up for the challenge?

Grant Martin has graciously agreed to write travel pieces for the A2 Journal. His first is on the Michigan Beer Cup. Have you ever heard of it? Get ready for some fun.

By Grant Martin
Guest Writer

It’s Craft Beer Month in Michigan, an official celebration set forth by the governor herself.

Throughout the entire month of July, festivities across Washtenaw County have been taking place in bars, restaurants and public places, from Beer Trivia at Ashleys Monday to Bells Brewery Night Wednesday at The Arena to the highly anticipated Michigan Brewers’ Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti next Friday and Saturday.

In addition, this year’s celebration comes with a twist: the inaugural Michigan Beer Cup.

Through the end of next week, residents of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor will be pitted against each another in an ultimate showdown of which city can drink the most Michigan beer.

The winners of this grand challenge get both bragging rights and the company of the official Michigan Beer Cup, which will be touring each participating bar from the winning city.

Local participating restaurants include Ashleys, Red Hawk, The Arena, Bar Louie and Arbor Brewing Co. among the more than 25 total watering holes, so make sure you stop by at some point during the week to do your part for Ann Arbor. And remember, it has to be a craft Michigan beer to qualify for the cup.

Scoring will be expertly weighed to consider the number of participating pubs per city and pints consumed therein, so Ann Arbor's higher volume of bars serving craft beer doesn't give the city an unfair advantage.

The first of what is hoped to be an annual event, the Michigan Beer Cup is the brainchild of Rick Lack at Rave Associates (,) a local importer and distributor of wine and beer.

As a means to support Craft Beer Month and increase exposure to the wide spectrum of Michigan beers, Lack conceived, arranged and launched the concept this year. He also will be naming the official winner next week at the Summer Beer Festival.

In case you won’t be around for this year’s Michigan Beer Cup, fear not. Planning for next year’s event is already under way, with other cities in the region already expressing interest in competing for the prize.

Data for the Michigan Beer Cup will be collected through Friday. Have a few pints before then, and drive safely.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A2 Journal at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs

The Ann Arbor Journal is at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs all this week. We have a booth on Liberty Street on the south side of the alley across from the hospitality tent. I will be there from 4 to 6 p.m. today, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Other reporters, advertising consultants and our publisher will be on hand throughout the week, as well, to answer questions about the new paper and hand out copies. I hope to see you there. Tomorrow we will have our second edition with us to share with interested residents.

On another note, if you have a soft spot in your heart for animal causes, I will be at the booth for the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary sharing information about the largest rabbit rescue in the United States and selling fans with rabbit pictures on them. My days there are 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday. That booth is located on Liberty near Seva restaurant.

I know, when will I get my work done? I am still trying to figure that out.

Hope to see you at the art fairs.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Fun Friday in A2

Friday was full of fun in Ann Arbor. Reporter Lisa Allmendinger and I started our afternoon at Cafe Felix for a delicious lunch. I told her it was known for its fruity martinis, but that was a no-no for us since it was a working lunch. I had a grilled salmon sandwich and she went with a cheeseburger. As we enjoyed our lunch and passed out a few copies of the A2 Journal, our very first edition, Main Street started filling up with some gorgeous cars, from Porches to vintage vehicles from the early 1900s to 1970s, as part of the Rolling Sculpture Car Show.

We interviewed Dexter resident Dean DeGalan as he polished his 2000 Dodge Viper and enjoyed a long talk with retired Ann Arbor police officer George Patak, who had a vintage Detroit police vehicle, a station wagon that used to serve as an ambulance, as well. Check out our videos on MIcentral, as well as our Facebook page.

Then it was off to the An Arbor Jaycees' Carnival. We had a blast talking with Dan Saimes, management director of the Jaycees, who we also have on video, and met lots of people who just love Ann Arbor. Misty Elliott and her son, Seven, and daughter, Veronika, were at the carnival and said they enjoy the cultural diversity that the city offers.

After speaking to Michelle Strobel, owner of Moo to You petting farm, which was set up for the first time as part of the carnival, it was back to the office for me.

I enjoyed my escape from The Saline Reporter building. It was a wonderful afternoon in Ann Arbor for someone who is used to spending her evenings in downtown A2 at the many fine restaurants. Afternoon is just as much fun, minus the cocktails.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bring it on!

A press release we just received from the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Convention and Visitors Bureaus says nearly two dozen travel writers, representing such national publications as Time magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, American Craft magazine and O magazine, will arrive Sunday to check out the local scene. They plan to visit the Ark in Ann Arbor and other hot spots. I say: Bring it on! We welcome your reviews and any promotion of the area that will boost the local economy.

Here's the official word:
The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureaus are pleased to announce the arrival of 22 travel writers to Washtenaw County. These writers will be visiting the area from July 12-15.

During their stay, they will be experiencing the best of what the area has to offer in food and drink, arts and culture, entertainment, and more.

The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureaus worked with Geiger and Associates, a public relations company specializing in the travel and tourism industry, and several local businesses to arrange this tour. Geiger and Associates has previously conducted press tours in conjunction with the Michigan Tourism Office (Travel Michigan); a 2007 state-wide tour yielded an estimated $500,000 in press coverage promoting travel to the Ann Arbor area alone.

“We are delighted to share our community with these writers, and we look forward to the stories they will produce about their experiences here,” said Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Mary Kerr.

The writers come from across the country and contribute to several local, regional, and national publications, including Time magazine, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, American Craft magazine, O magazine, and others.

The writers will visit several area restaurants, The Purple Rose and Performance Network Theaters, The Ark, and several other popular destinations. They will also experience the first day of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs on Wednesday, July 15.

About the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau: The Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is a 501(c)6 not-for-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the economy of the Ann Arbor area and the county of Washtenaw in general, through the promotion of the area as a destination for overnight visitors.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On the Record

Journal Register Co. President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Wright goes on the record with A2 Journal Managing Editor Michelle Rogers about what readers can expect from A2 Journal, which publishes tomorrow for the first time.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celebrating the Fourth of July in A2

I must say that the Ann Arbor Jaycees put on quite a parade. Over the last 17 years, I've covered parades in Dexter, Chelsea, Saline and Milan. But Ann Arbor, wow, what an impressive show.

The Fourth of July Parade was about an hour long and featured everything from the hosts, the Jaycees, to local businesses, preschools, twirlers, jugglers, clowns, nonprofit groups, antique cars, public safety officials and politicians.

Most impressive was the crowd, teeming with children. Hundreds lined the street. We were at the corner of Liberty and Main and people were stacked three rows deep, and that was just a small section of the parade route.

I had an awesome time and met some great people, from Doug Collier and his twins, Gabriel and Eliana of Dexter to the Ridha family of Ann Arbor, Ed and Lisa with their two daughters, Skye and Heather, decked out in red, white and blue.

We started the day with breakfast and Cafe Zola and finished with a beautiful ride home with the top down on the convertible. Slightly overcast and a perfect 70 degrees, it was a beautiful morning. Now for the rest of the day?

Check out video of the parade on our video-sharing site.

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