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06.16.16 – Luncheon Notes and Photos

SPOKES Notes written by Paul Arnold

President Derek called the meeting to order and noted that this was the last time he would be doing that as President.

No guests or visiting Rotarians were in attendance. Jim Voogd gave a reminder of the upcoming golf outing on Monday, August 8th.

Bruce Pienton gave a report and showed pictures of the last Community Engagement event where hundreds of flowers were planted by members of this club at ICCF properties. A Star Rental Truck was used and was so full that there was room for only one more flat of flowers. There was medical treatment for those who participated at Brewery Vivant.

Susan Ledy introduced our speaker, Dan Gaydou from the M-Live Media Group. Dan heads the largest News and Media organization in Michigan and is on many community boards. He is a grad of U of M and a trained CPA. He was a member of this club and the club in Flint.

Dan spoke to our group 4 years ago when MLive was just getting started and gave us a run-down of how the newspaper business has changed. He suggested that his company is out of the newspaper business and into the journalism business. The change has not been easy, particularly since they tore down the Press building. The biggest regret is the loss of the relationships with the other journalists. He lamented that it was similar to when he went back to his hometown of Aurora, MO and the downtown was replaced by Walmart. Change is hard and it is important that those in journalism grasp the change.

Currently the Grand Rapids Press gets 600,000 weekly readers. That is down from 800,000 four years ago but there are over 3,000,000 unique web viewers today with over 120 million page views in Grand Rapids. 75 million page view are on smart phones— so it is clear that is the way most people get their news. Dan noted that by 2020, 70% of the world’s population will have a smart phone.

MLive is number one in the state with 1.5 billion page view with the Detroit Free Press alternative ( coming in 2nd. The Grand  Rapids Press and MLive reach 72% of all adults in GR. The average age of readers is 49 years old and 79% of readers are under 65 years old. In comparison, WOOD TV reaches 35% of the adults in GR.

The business model for MLive is now less about selling advertising and more about gathering and selling data. It is not a “Big Brother” scheme but data is gathered so that selling messages can be more accurately targeted to an individual’s interests and buying habits. The overall goal at ML is quality journalism and Dan noted that the company has more awards now than when it was a newspaper only  publisher. Better journalism helps the company gather a bigger audience so it can tell the news stories that are important. For instance, the national news outlets are no longer covering the Flint water crisis but MLive is staying on it.

Dan quoted Dan Rather who was critical of Presidential Candidates that want to inhibit journalists from asking tough questions. Mr. Gaydou finished his presentation with the mission of MLive:

  1. Strive for journalistic excellence on all communication platforms. 2.Continue to develop a broad audience for it’s content. 3. Continue to innovate and learn from experience.


Dan responded to a question about the coverage of sports at MLive. He explained that they have over 40 reporters that cover high school sports—  in part because that is a very good way to connect with young people.

Another question was about news reporters being banned from covering the Trump campaign. Dan strongly suggested that it is a reporters job to ask tough questions and it is dangerous to try and ban free thought.  A comment was made by a Rotary member that the Civil War was probably brought on by Southern newspapers badly misquoting Abraham Lincoln during the 1859 elections.


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