Why I’m leaving journalism


Nearly two years ago, I left Washington. Now, I’m leaving journalism.

Today I announced my resignation as editor and publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business to be president of Truscott Rossman, the state’s leading strategic communications firm, a bipartisan enterprise based in Lansing with offices in Detroit and Grand Rapids. I couldn’t be more excited about my next chapter in Detroit, my hometown.

I make this move for the same reason I made the last one, when I jumped from Washington to Michigan in the fall of 2016: I want to be a part of Detroit’s rise. I want to work with the key leaders of business, politics, and non-profits. I want to help shape and spread the Detroit story, to be a part of its transformation.

The Crain’s gig brought me home and offered enormous opportunities. We restructured the newsroom, hiring a team of young breaking-news reporters whose efforts gave veteran journalists more time to dig for scoops and move-the-needle enterprise. Our online traffic soared and the newspaper won several awards. We transformed the financial model – from subscription-based to membership – while raising rates, adding events, engaging young professionals, and doubling size of Crain’s custom content studio. We grew profit in 2017, and revenue is surging in 2018.

I loved my time at Crain’s. I loved my team, and will forever be grateful to K.C. Crain. But after a long run in journalism – from Arkansas to the White House and then back home to Michigan – I still itched for a change and more impact. Borrowing a line from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” I wanted to be “in the room where it happens.” At Truscott Rossman, I get the opportunity to help run a challenging business, lead a team of hard-charging communicators, and grow a client list that includes the Detroit Medical Center Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and DTE Energy.

I will be joining the firm just before co-founder Kelly Rossman-McKinney retires to campaign full-time for a mid-Michigan state Senate seat. Kelly, a legend, has been the Democratic side of a bipartisan equation; the “yin” to John Truscott’s “yang.” That is my role now.

While nobody can fill Kelly’s shoes, I will try. I will advocate for people, causes, and companies that matter to me, and that will help nudge my city and state forward. I will speak and write on behalf of clients. I will help them develop and execute strategies for escaping communications crises – the sort of public relations havoc I brought to political and business leaders during my three decades at The Associated Press, National Journal, The Atlantic, and Crain’s.

Lastly, after a self-imposed exile at Crain’s, I will return to politics – not just as a writer, but also now as an advocate.

I’ll work throughout Michigan and in Washington for worthy causes. But not from a distant sideline, where the important work of journalism will continue without me. I want to be where the action is, in the room where it happens with the Truscott Rossman team, the best in the business.