The child care shortage. The urgent need for affordable water access. How state leaders prepared for a potentially turbulent election.
As the year winds down, I want to draw your attention to our coverage of these crucial topics, made possible by an important partnership that has allowed us to expand reporting in metro Detroit.
The Free Press is proud to partner with Report For America, a program that places journalists in newsrooms across the country to cover issues that need attention.
Since 2020, the Free Press and Report for America have brought three journalists to our newsroom to bolster:
- Political fact-checking and reporting on democracy in Michigan.
- Reporting that unpacks the complex issues affecting people who struggle financially.
- Coverage of the well-being of children.
Report for America funds a portion of these journalists’ salaries, and we need your help to match their contribution. We ask that you to consider making a tax-deductible donation to support this work at https://bit.ly/freepRFA.
These dollars stay local, supporting essential journalism right here in Michigan.
Here’s what the journalists covering these stories have to say about their beats and what drives them.
Jennifer Brookland covers the well-being of children in Michigan, a topic she calls “supremely important” but one that is often underreported by newsrooms. It’s also an expansive coverage area, she notes.
“Reporting on children is, by nature, reporting on families, schools and society,” Brookland says. “Examining how children are faring in their everyday life, from their physical and mental health to their economic and social conditions, can reveal cracks in the systems meant to support those children and identify policy changes needed to address them.
“Covering kids also allows me to showcase how communities unite to help one another, which I believe humanizes disparate communities and highlights an issue on which we can all agree: Every child deserves to be safe and healthy.”
Clara Hendrickson reports on Michigan politics with a focus on fact-checking and the future of democracy in the state.
“During the 2020 election cycle, I debunked misinformation that had been widely circulating online,” Hendrickson says. “Since then, I’ve closely tracked efforts to change Michigan’s election laws as well as the challenges facing election officials across the state.”
Hendrickson has led the Free Press’ coverage of Michigan’s first independent, citizen-led redistricting process and fact-checked claims candidates made while campaigning ahead of November’s midterm election. The polarization of today’s shifting political landscape has made her work all the more important.
“With high-profile proposals on the ballot, I provided essential voter information on a measure to decide the future of abortion rights in Michigan and another to extend voting rights across the state,” Hendrickson says.
Thanks to her efforts, Michiganders could find the facts they needed to cast their ballot with confidence.
Nushrat Rahman covers issues related to economic mobility, including housing, affordability, and inequities that prevent low-income families from achieving financial stability. Her stories often touch on wider community concerns, such as problems renters face and unaffordable water rates.
“I try to untangle big issues while getting practical information out into the hands of Detroiters,” Rahman says. “This work allows me to fill information gaps and connect people to resources that can help address acute needs.”
As a native Detroiter, Rahman knows the obstacles city residents face and her work helps to ensure Detroiters can find crucial resources to rise above them.
“I find it fulfilling to do local journalism in the place where I grew up,” she says. “I’m able to listen to neighbors and take the time to shed light on the challenges they face, from home repairs and evictions to rising food costs and high utility bills.”
This reporting makes a difference, putting essential information into the hands of our neighbors, community leaders, and decision-makers. It couldn’t be done without you. Thank you for your support.
Peter Bhatia is editor and vice president of the Detroit Free Press.