I’ve been a mainstream newspaper reporter and editor for three decades (with the last four years devoted to The Grand Rapids Press’ online affiliate, MLive.com). I felt pretty knowledgeable about what makes for good journalism. Then 10 years ago, Berl Schwartz and City Pulse moved a few doors down from Creole Gallery in Old Town, where I’d been producing concerts with my late partner Robert Busby. I moseyed down one day to say hello and check out this little business in our neighborhood. I soon learned Berl was funding the operation by the seat of his pants and planning a free publication that would stir the pot and make people squirm. I was skeptical he could sell enough ads to sustain a publication that thrived on controversy. Old Town back then had seen plenty of businesses come and go; I figured this business would shortly be gone. But I liked the folks he was hiring – talents like Lawrence Cosentino, Elaine Yaw, Ute Von Der Heyden and more who entered journalism for more than a paycheck. And I liked the stories – coverage that challenged city hall, addressed LGBT issues, pointed out housing eyesores, and enthusiastically supported the local arts scene. Sure, mainstream media often provides similar coverage, but Berl’s priorities were so different. I loved it. And I learned from him, eventually co-hosting the City Pulse on the Air radio show on WDBM and witnessing him interview with such intelligence and fearlessness.
I’ve lived in one-newspaper towns, where the only competition comes from abbreviated TV news reports. Lansing and East Lansing are lucky to have multiple news outlets, and the growth continues: MLive.com just launched a Lansing edition at mlive.com/lansing. City Pulse has been a key player for 10 years, ensuring the landscape gets covered thoroughly and thoughtfully.
Has City Pulse pissed you off lately? Good. That means Berl and his staff are sticking to the mission of a credible alternative newspaper.
Congratulations to anyone who’s ever been involved with City Pulse. Consider it a feather in your cap, and thanks for enriching the Lansing community. Here’s to the next decade of a great journalism.
Meegan Holland in Online/Multimedia Editor at The Grand Rapids Press and a concert producer.