By: Nu Yang
In a city that took a beating during the Great Recession, Detroit’s daily newspapers were hit especially hard. With the reduction in print delivery days came a decline in paid subscriptions and a demand for something new. It should come as no surprise that the Internet has stepped up to fill that demand.
Launched in April, Deadline Detroit is a community news website with one goal in mind — to keep local residents informed about the Motor City. Founded by former Detroit Free Press reporter Bill McGraw and former Detroit News journalist Allan Lengel, Deadline Detroit features original reporting and opinion as well as links to other stories, videos, podcasts, and blogs about southeast Michigan.
Initial funding for the project came from Detroit-based software company Compuware Ventures, where McGraw served as director of media relations. McGraw said even though the site is only six months old, Deadline Detroit has been well received by advertisers.
The staff includes four full-time reporters, one interactive sales/marketing director, and three freelance columnists — all of whom are Detroit natives and reflect the group’s tagline: “Homegrown Media Revolution.”
The site is updated daily, beginning early in the morning with about a dozen aggregated news links related to Detroit. Original stories are also posted, and McGraw said stories range from transportation and politics to local history and technology.
“Detroit is a great news hub,” McGraw said. “There has been so much news — good and bad — in the past 60 years … there’s also a strong cultural side, especially with music and the efforts to revitalize Detroit … there’s so much news to cover in Detroit that there’s never any shortage.”
McGraw said his Web training started at the Free Press, where his work appeared mostly online. “I learned a lot about the changing media, and it helped me get ready for Deadline Detroit.” He also credits his current website developers at Compuware Corp. for their input.
McGraw said he plans to put out a smartphone application, redesign the website to create a better reader experience by adding more categories and topics, and continue to engage in social media. He said the focus will stay on news, features, and culture, but sports coverage may be down the road. He also hopes to expand the staff with one or two more writers.
“It’s clear that where and how people are getting their news is changing,” McGraw said. “I want Deadline Detroit to be a viable business model … my vision is to see more and more of our own reporting.” Visit deadlinedetroit.com for more information.