Assignment: Detroit

Session Reporter: Sue Ellen Christian

Conversationalist 1: Sue Ellen Christian

Conversationalist 2: Steven Gray

I spoke with Steven Gray, bureau chief of Time, Inc.’s Detroit bureau and a key player in the company’s “Assignment: Detroit” venture. Read about the initiative on Time online at:,8599,1925681,00.html.

Gray is doing a bit of everything in his new-ish role here. As he put it: “It’s like running an upstart business.” He’s a bureau chief setting up a bureau from scratch, a reporter learning a new beat and new territory that is overflowing with great stories and a spokesman for this ambitious project, seeking to explain it to an audience that isn’t always responsive to the coverage.

So as for what he brings to JTM Detroit, it’s obvious. He is experiencing first-hand what it takes to build a journalism start-up, navigating the local channels and the politics and the business community. He can talk with JTMers about that process and the importance of having local bloggers and folks from the community adding their voices to the coverage.

The formulating question for Assignment: Detroit, and presumably, by extension, that Gray has for the JTM conference is: “What will it take for Detroit and the region to turn around?” Gray has told the story mainly through profiles — for an insightful read that’s his latest, this one on Detroit’s new police chief and his paramilitary approach to policing — go to:,8599,1992425,00.html.

Submitted by Sue Ellen Christian, Western Michigan University

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