Conversations on Kwame

Detroit Free Press reporter speaks on journalism for Festival of the Arts

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist M.L. Elrick gave two separate presentations on his role in uncovering former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s text message scandal, watchdog journalism and the future of news to FSU students and faculty.

“The reason why I like investigative journalism is because I believe you are entitled to the truth,” Elrick said. “We believe there are two sides to every story.”

A 1990 graduate of Michigan State University, Elrick and reporter Jim Schaefer were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 2009 while at the Detroit Free Press for their investigative reporting of Kilpatrick’s text message scandal involving Christine Beatty.

Elrick’s first presentation was at 4 p.m. in BUS 248, where he spoke to a classroom of FSU students, faculty members and local reporters. Elrick later spoke to a lecture hall of Big Rapids community members at 7 p.m. in IRC 120 where he addressed his career at the New Hampshire Concord Monitor and his book “The Kwame Sutra.”

According to Elrick, both journalists and the community must communicate effectively in order to become aware and determine what community news is considered vital.

“There are fewer reporters but more consumers of information,” Elrick said. “It’s important you take action to help us get to the truth. We have to support each other.”

As a professor of journalism at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Elrick said the fundamentals of journalism are as simple as, “you ask people what they did. Then you check it out. Then you tell people. It’s important to be able to communicate.”

Elrick’s presentation was part of the fifth-annual Festival of the Arts celebration, which continues through Feb. 29.