It’s a vivid story, and I’m sure it’s true, but I know LeDuff was also interested in television as a medium for his journalism. His frustration over the judge story was the last straw for a reporter looking to talk to a bigger audience. And it’s no secret that The Detroit News is the No. 2 newspaper in the city; hundreds of thousands of subscribers have abandoned it, and budget cuts have made the newsroom a ghost town. The stories he once told on paper are now told on Fox 2, which has featured him more and more as a brand and star in the past couple of years.

As for Detroit, it works. No one book can tell the entire story of the city, and there’s no right way to do it. This is one way to tell that story, and it could be done only by someone consciously embedded not only in the city, but in their own family and their own life. LeDuff is unafraid to mine his personal history for broadly identifiable examples of Detroit’s larger plight. Who in Detroit hasn’t had a relative that lost a good career and ended up in a dead-end job? Or hasn’t been touched in some way by the booze and drugs that some people use to escape the grim realities of the Motor City? There may be other reporters here who have such stories, and have worked all the beats and can write better prose, but only LeDuff, flaws and all, has had the balls to write Detroit.

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.


More in Critical Eye

Fait inaccompli

Read More »

Bill Shea has covered local media, among other beats, for Crain’s Detroit Business since 2006. He's currently writing a book about his stint as a third-string minor-league football quarterback.