The week that was from the Center for Independent Media

Economic woes, the presidential election, environmental news, immigration busts, government transparency and a National Press Club award topped our week at the Center for Independent Media’s growing online news network.

Congratulations to Michigan Fellow Eartha Jane Melzer who won an honorable mention for excellence in political journalism in the National Press Club’s annual awards program for her 2007 investigation of the private security firm, Sovereign Deed.

Her reporting is a case study of the positive impact investigative reporting can have on public debate.


TWI stayed on the cutting edge of coverage of America’s economic woes with two penetrating pieces about what’s gone wrong.

Mary Kane explained why the foreclosure crisis is swelling the rate of bank failures with giants like Wachovia and Washington Mutual now in danger. In "The Perils of Regional Protectionism," as the auto industry’s woes mounted this week, Mike Lillis traced how the Michigan congressional delegation’s 30-year-long defense of Detroit’s demands actually accelerated the decline of America’s biggest manufacturing sector. (Lillis’s story also ran in Michigan Messenger.)

Political writer Sridar Pappu, formerly of The Washington Post, made his TWI debut with a timely look at how presumptive Republican nominee John McCain still inspires mistrust in the party’s conservative base.


The Independent’s thorough and fair yet irreverent reporting on the national Libertarian convention in Denver won praise from a tough critic. Editor Cara DeGette’s prolific coverage (five stories in two days) outshone the Denver dailies," said conservative columnist Dave Kopel of The Rocky Mountain News. One highlight was DeGette’s dispatch, "Libertarians battle over the evolution of the revolution."

Erin Rosa covered Barack Obama’s campaign visit to a Denver school with close attention to his support for bilingual literacy and federal financial aid for undocumented immigrant students.

Managing Editor Wendy Norris gave a fair and balanced presentation of diverse religious perspectives on the ballot initiative to amend the state constitution with a provision conferring "personhood" on embryonic human life.


Melzer continues to follow the deadly trail of dioxin contamination in central Michigan left by Dow Chemical. She filed a report on the EPA’s belated decision to test 10 homes in Saginaw, with the timely reminder that regional EPA administrator Mary Gade said she was forced to resign last month because of her efforts to hold Dow responsible for the cleanup.

From a conclave of the state-elected leadership, Todd Spencer reported that state Senate Majority leader Mike Bishop was booed for criticizing the state’s much-delayed ban on smoking in public places.

With remarkable fidelity (and a few wisecracks), Managing Editor Rayne Apo-Joynt liveblogged the critical May 31 meeting of the Democratic Party officials in Washington that resolved the question of whether and how to seat the Michigan delegation at the party’s presidential nominating convention this summer.

Now that Todd Heywood is reporting Barack Obama is due back in the state on June 1 — his second visit in less than month — the presidential battle has come to Michigan.


The Monitor finished May with its best month ever in terms of viewership, and its sixth straight month of growth in site traffic. Driving the surge? Thorough and interesting news coverage.

Editor Steve Perry and reporter Paul Demko kept readers current on the increasingly turbulent state of affairs in comedian Al Franken’s bid to win the Democratic senatorial nomination.

Molly Priesmeyer covered the new phenomenon known as "condo-cide," i.e., downtown construction projects dying off in the wake of the housing bust.

Andy Birkey told the unlikely story of a Minnesota man arrested at a military recruiting station. The problem: He’s gay and he wants to fight for his country.

And Chris Steller made news out of history with his video interview of retired Minneapolis congressman Don Fraser. A liberal warhorse (and later mayor of Minneapolis), Fraser helped rewrite the Democratic Party rules in 1968, creating new primaries and caucuses and opening up the party to insurgent candidates like Barack Obama.


While the national media has forgotten the May 12 raid at a kosher food factory in the northern Iowa town of Postville, the Independent continues to report on the stories behind the story.

Lynda Waddington reported on the routine sexual harassment that female employees at the Agriprocessors plant faced. Jewish groups, Waddington notes, are calling for changes at Agriprocessors, the company that employed — and exploited — hundreds of undocumented workers arrested in the raid. Doug Burns and guest writer Lorena Lopez reported that so-far unfounded fears of a similar raid have frightened the local Latino population in western Iowa.


Accountability reporting is fast becoming NMI’s signature.

Managing editor David Alire Garcia excavated a previously unknown story: Conservative Republican congresswoman and U.S. Senate hopeful Heather Wilson was once a youthful liberal foreign-policy thinker who defended the "right to fight" of people seeking national self-determination.

The official release of an audit of the state’s voter-education confirmed the revelations in Trip Jennings’ May 19 scoop: that $6 million of $19 million in federal funds provided under the Help America Vote Act was misspent or is unaccounted for.

Marjorie Childress illuminated the chummy relationship between developers and the State Land Office, which controls millions of acres of coveted property. And Heath Haussamen followed up with the news that the Office has been targeted for a special audit.