A disappointed reader wrote:

“Have been a subscriber and reader of Crain’s Detroit Business for over 30 years. Always enjoy the news and the ‘behind the scenes’ columns. There is news in Crain’s that can’t be found in other publications. Recently though, maybe with a change in leadership, the publication has taken a new route and there seems to be an overabundance of news with a strong political vein and I find that troublesome! Articles such as … ‘Local biz worries …,’ ‘Resettlement agencies …,’ ‘Duggan’s future …’ and ‘Rise up, Detroit …’ are just some examples of a new political focused trend. If this is the new philosophy and trend, count me out!”

This is a business publication and it always will be. But we live and work in hyper-politicized times, which means part of Crain’s mission is to help readers navigate the unruly intersection of public policy and business.

I replied to the subscriber, Bill Kalmar of Lake Orion, who gave me permission to publish his notes and name.

“Hello, Bill. Two of the stories you mentioned happened to be my opinion column: Just one man’s opinion, designed to provoke thought and action, and even disagreement. Please feel free to write your opinion on the mayor’s re-election or the president’s order and we will likely publish it.

“Our pages are your pages.

“The other two stories came from straight-news reporting. We asked local business leaders how the president’s order might affect the business community and reported to you what they told us. No fear or favor.”

One of the columns that jarred Bill Kalmar (and, judging from my inboxes, many other readers) was my Feb. 6 argument against President Trump’s executive order on immigration, based on moral, organizational and economic grounds. While the column was accurate and the topic is important to Crain’s readers, I regret my preachy tone.

The emotionally charged language (“Rise up, metro Detroit. Lean in. Speak out”) was, in hindsight, at least a tad arrogant. I haven’t been back home long enough to make a call to action. Also, I should have led with the economic argument rather than save it for the column’s conclusion.

Finally, I should have known that some people would read the column and assume I’m an anti-Trump liberal, a narrowed mind. In my old life in the nation’s capital, I saw how Democrats misconstrued my critical coverage of Hillary Clinton as proof that I’m conservative.

Here’s the simple fact about my politics: I’m an independent. I cover issues objectively and form my opinions freely. I don’t respect either party. Where others see red or blue, I see gray.

I’m not perfect.

I’m not predictable.

I’m not political.

I’m just a new publisher and editor who writes columns — the new guy in town who wants to tell your stories and help nudge our community toward a common good. I will make you happy some days, angry on others, as I slowly earn your trust as a business columnist, editor and publisher.

Like reader Bill Kalmar, you might need to set me straight.

As our email exchange continued, Bill told me: “Guess I will monitor the ‘new direction’ of Crain’s Detroit Business and respond when I feel passionate about something … .”

I replied:

“Hi, Bill. Please do respond and push and criticize. That’s what friends do.

“The paper reports the news and uncovers stories that other outlets might have missed. Its columnists frame that news with analysis and even opinions to challenge Detroit’s big thinkers. People like you.”

Bill quickly replied with a quote from “Casablanca,” the movie classic. “Louis,” he wrote, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I think he’s right.



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