Deadline Detroit's 2nd decade starts with strong coverage of two major news topics

May 13, 2022, 5:53 AM

The past two weeks brought our kind of Big News pace, a chance to present high-impact coverage that reinforces a small team's pride in playing on the same field as larger staffs. So we're not shy about this brief bow.

Three days after Deadline Detroit's 10th anniversary as a free daily news site, we presented reporter Violet Ikonomova's comprehensive investigation of how the Detroit Police Department repeatedly fails to hold officers accountable for criminal misconduct. A few days after that, we began intensive coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court's leaked abortion decision draft.  

The first splash, an in-depth report headlined "'Deeply Broken:' How Detroit Lets Bad Cops Off the Hook," was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism. It broke new ground:

The findings come from a 16-month Deadline Detroit investigation into the department’s handling of a sampling of 10 criminally charged officers who exhibited red flags long before their arrests. Officers were able to remain on the streets despite track records of abuse, lies, wrongful searches and other problems, shielded by an internal oversight system stacked in their favor. The consequences were at times grave. ...

Our review of more than 10,000 pages of disciplinary and investigative records obtained through open records requests found that lax enforcement, strong union protections and internal bias create a perpetuating cycle of limited accountability.

The explosive revelations were discussed last week by Chief James White at a Board of Police Commissioners meeting, where several members asked why they weren't told so many bad officers still have badges. The chief tried to brush off the reporting as undeserving of a response. "Trust the process," he told the civilian commissioners.

Asked by the oversight board’s president how he would proceed so "we won't be talking about this a year from now," White grew defensive, saying: "But we will because it sells papers."  

Ikonomova discusses her pathbreaking project in a half-hour video conversation with colleague Nancy Derringer.

Half-century-old ruling at risk

Three days after that exclusive work, we actively joined the national dialog about abortion access as an apparently endangered right.

Within hours of a Politico scoop presenting Justice Samuel Alito's first draft of a 6-3 option overturning the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v Wade decision, our site had a Michigan-focused column by Joe Lapointe. The longtime journalist explored the likelihood of "a powerful backlash from progressives and liberals, while stoking enthusiasm for the Democratic side in November's midterm elections."

Abortion won’t be on the ballot, but it will be in the minds of voters. A boosted female turnout in November is likely to help [Michigan's statewide female] incumbents, especially if [Gov. Gretchen] Whitmer turns right-to-choose into a campaign narrative.

Three other articles were part of our next-day coverage of this critical issue, including "patient-level details that underlie the political and social debate" and a reaction roundup headlined "Michigan Choice Backers Are Newly Alarmed, Activated to Defend Abortion Rights."

Attention continued with another trio of follow-ups in recent days -- notably one this week by Ikonomova, who spoke with three patients at the Scotsdale Women's Center on West 7 Mile, as well as its director. "Questionnaires recently completed by patients of the Detroit clinic shed light on the travel burden a ban could impose," this week's article says. 


We hope this full-press energy bolsters your appreciation of Deadline Detroit, and shows why joining our membership program by contributing $3 a month or more is a fair way to show gratitude and loyalty. (One-time donations gladly accepted.)

We've published without a subscrtiption paywall since April 26, 2012. Deadline Detroit members, some of whom make a yearly donation, help support staff writers, editors, a freelance network and tech costs.

Thanks for reading and enlarging the members' circle as we begin our 11th year.

-- Deadline Detroit staff



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