Michigan’s Best

The Michigan’s Best project is one of the favorites I have worked on at MLive. It is a statewide travel and food series that has looked for the best pizzaburgerstacosdoughnuts and craft breweries.

MLive reporters ask for readers in our 10 markets to tell us their favorite places to get food. From those suggestions, we put together polls and combining the top vote getters and suggestions of the local reporters, we visited the entire state looking for the best.

After establishing an itinerary, We travel to up to 7 places a day and spend about an hour trying the different food they are known for. In addition to tasting, we tell the story about how they became so beloved by the community. Most of the places we visit have really neat stories, such as this feature I did on the bakers we met during the doughnut search.

I helped plan the project, shared our travels on social media, wrote on the road, took photos, videos and innovated new ways to share information with readers.

The series became a major success with readers and resulted in people traveling across Michigan to the locations we picked.

It is fulfilling because we are showing Michiganders parts of the state that they have never seen, and encourage them to stop off at the restaurant they had previously passed by. This is what helps create a better community.

Breaking news: Sarkozy Bakery on fire

In Kalamazoo, there was no bakery as beloved as the one owned and operated by Judy Sarkozy.  When my editor called me at 7 a.m. Saturday morning and said it was on fire, I jumped out of bed and went downtown. The building was a total loss. For the next 12 hours I covered the story. I interviewed public safety officials and people who came to the watch the fire firsthand. I published photos and videos from the scene, giving our audience a real feel of what was going on. After the fire was under control, I returned to the newsroom to research the history of the bakery for an article for Sunday’s newspaper. Link to all coverage

Sustained news coverage: Robert Medema homicide

On a Saturday morning in August, I received a message from a source that there were several police cars and a crime lab van outside of a house in a well to do neighborhood. I went to the scene and soon found out a well-known antiques dealer Robert Medema was killed in his house. I covered both the police investigations and memorials. Once arrests were made, I continued reporting on the criminal prosecution and trials of the men believed to have been involved from the murder.

Through research, I found out that one of the men arrested had been released from prison in the past year and had asked a judge to delay sentencing for an assault shortly before the homicide. During the trial, I live-blogged the proceedings and provided article updates from the courtroom. Link to all coverage

GOP Primary: Fred Upton versus Jack Hoogendyk

A well-know Congressman was challenged a second time by a Tea Party opponent. I covered the race beginning to end: looking at what chance the challenger had and how the large volume of attack ads showed the incumbent was taking his challenger seriously. After the election, I looked at what impact the primary could have on the general election.

Election: Is Kalamazoo County going Democratic? November 2012

This is an article I wrote the day after the 2012 election. After analyzing the results throughout the day, I sought comment from different party leaders in the area. It was an end analysis of local elections, which included writing about each race, being the only source to have campaign fundraising numbers available online and organizing public forums for voters to hear from and question the candidates. Link

Government: The 2013 federal government shutdown

When the federal government shut down in summer 2013, it was hard to tell exactly how it would impact Michigan. What was known, however, was that the state was losing $18 million a day in federal funding. I talked to several state departments each day to figure out if there was any impact of the shutdown on Michigan programs. It was ever changing by the hour. I was able to attend a briefing from the Michigan National Guard, where I reported exactly what the soldiers heard from their command. Link

Opinion: Why keeping the classics is important in creating a full education

When one of our regular columnist said he was going to write an article about why it’s a good thing Michigan State University graduated its last Classical Studies major, I had to write a column disputing his claim. It also includes the best line I think I have ever had published:

It’s going to be a sad day in East Lansing when there are no students left on campus who can translate the texts of the Greek historian Herodotus, and reinterpret and tell their generation about the true greatness of the Spartans.


Commentary: The elusive Michigan flag: One reporter’s quest to hunt down and buy the state’s flag.

For years, I had been looking for a state of Michigan flag. I went to a big box store and could only find American flags. After a day of searching, I couldn’t find any for sale in my town. I wrote this first person story about my search for the Michigan flag, and found out more about its history and meaning. Link