This is an unabashed shout-out to the Detroit Free Press. Today the paper, not exactly flush with cash itself, printed a special edition and sent a copy to every member of Congress. The hallmark was a page-one editorial titled, "Invest in America," which implored Congressmen and Senators to prevent 3 million people from being put of work through the failure of the auto industry. It didn't dare to contend that its hometown economic engine had done a good job, or had to be sustained because the business is as American as apple pie. No flags were waved,no base appeals were made to the Rush Limbaugh jingoistic set. The plea came on behalf of downtown Detroit, not Grosse Pointe--the rank-and-file wage earners, not Rick Wagoner and his jet mates.
"The losses from an auto industry failure are about more than dry statistics," the editorial declared. "Every job associated with the industry is a family, a home, a college education, a cancer treatment or a secure retirement."
At a time when journalism is on the ropes, the paper demonstrated why we need vibrant hometown newspapers to pursue the lofty mission of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
"We have chronicled the U.S. auto industry since its birth," editor Paul Anger explained in a page-one sidebar to the editorial. "We know this industry better than anyone.
"We also know that while a newspaper needs to inform, there are times when a newspaper needs to speak up for what's right."
The detour into what purists slag as advocacy journalism will no doubt draw fire to the paper. But I for one am proud to see a defender of the common good courageously fulfill its duty.