The Detroit Media Partnership, umbrella organization of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News, has branched out from its normal journalistic mandate to produce…a song.
Yep. “This Time”—at once an ad and an anthem, about Detroit, its troubles, its potential, and, broadly, the role that its newspapers can play in both—is part of a new branding effort by the city’s partnered papers. The song (which is sung by Brian Vander Ark, whom you might remember from such songs as “The Freshman”—Vander Ark is the front man for the Michigan-based band The Verve Pipe) has aired, with its accompanying video, on TV and in movie theaters in Michigan. The campaign has also released the “This Time” video on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and iTunes.
Which might just make it kind of historic. “As far as I know, this is the first time a newspaper company has ever commissioned, published and is actively marketing an anthem for their community,” Rich Harshbarger, the Detroit Media Partnership’s Vice President of Consumer Marketing, said in a press release announcing the song’s availability on iTunes.
We’ve long thought that newspapers—and news organizations in general—could, considering all the challenges stacked up against them, do a much, much better job of publicizing themselves and their role in their communities. So, whether you find “This Time” movingly inspirational or ridiculously cheesy (or a little bit of both), it’s certainly a step in the right direction.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.