About Michigan Professional Communicators with an interest in religion and cross-cultural issues

Michigan Professional Communicators roundtable

A typical Roundtable setting at a Michigan Communicators gathering.

“Michigan Communicators,” as our current Michigan-wide network is commonly called, springs from precursor organizations within the newsroom of the Detroit Free Press around the year 2000. That’s when journalists responded collectively to the dramatic changes sweeping global media. Rather than working as individual competitors, a circle of Free Press journalists realized the need to intentionally come together periodically to share fresh challenges, to improve individual work and to lift up the best practices of our profession. A small circle of senior writers began to meet occasionally to share about our lives, our work and the era of media transformation in which we found ourselves.

Within a few years, this network evolved and began to center around occasional gatherings in the Ann Arbor area, including annual day-long retreats for media professionals. At that time, the circle also occasionally included media visitors from other states and included some major media events, such as public appearances by important authors. While Michigan Communicators no longer plans major public events, the network is actively involved in sharing news and connections to enable such events.

By 2010, with the founding of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IFLC), this network of Michigan Communicators evolved again to affiliate itself as one of the “network of networks” that are part of the overall IFLC. One of the founding goals of the IFLC is promoting education about the nature, importance and impact of religion in our diverse world today. Michigan Communicators has the closely related goal of promoting best practices in reporting and otherwise showcasing religion in an accurate, balanced and fair way.

Michigan Communicators sample newsletter

A snapshot of a typical Michigan Communicators newsletter, which comes once a month. Interested in subscribing? Send an email to david.crumm @ gmail.com

What’s the purpose of the lengthy name? Our full name is “Michigan Professional Communicators with an interest in religion and cross-cultural issues”—a descriptive name that was deliberately chosen to signal that this is an informal network. The group operates with no budget or official membership list or officers—because professional journalists often face conflicts in projects involving any formal affiliation they may have with companies or nonprofits. Michigan Communicators counts more than 150 men and women who have participated in one of our gatherings or subscribe to our monthly newsletter. The group’s events ask participants for no fees, no donations—and newcomers and visitors are always welcome.

How often do we meet? In recent years, this network has gathered from 9 a.m. to Noon on the last Friday of January and March, then once on a Friday morning in June, and again on the last Friday of September and November. (Meeting dates are adjusted annually to avoid major holidays.)

Where do we meet? Our network was founded to foster greater understanding of the role of religious and ethnic groups in Michigan, so each gathering is hosted in a location that lets participants gain background on the region’s churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, seminaries and other institutions with a major commitment to cultural diversity. Hosts have included both of Detroit’s major seminaries as well as the Detroit Institute of Arts, major ethnic centers and landmark houses of worship.

What is our format? When we meet, the first hour (from 9 to 10 a.m.) is organized by our host to provide a walk-and-talk orientation. Media professionals usually are full of questions and this part of the morning is always a popular part of the group’s appeal. Then, from 10 a.m. to Noon, we hold a true roundtable (although seating sometimes is shaped more like an oval or a square). Anyone around the circle can talk to the group about new projects, ask for assistance or help with brainstorming—or share news about upcoming events including conferences, retreats, book launches, concerts, educational opportunities and other milestones on the calendar.

Is that all? No! Media professionals who get to know each other through this network frequently collaborate between meetings. We become friends who share common values, such as the high professional standards we set for our work. We often contact each other between meetings for assistance, friendly counsel or simply praise and encouragement.

How can I learn more?

Email coordinator David Crumm at david.crumm@gmail.com to get on the list for our monthly newsletter updates and invitations to future gatherings.

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