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.

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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