Detroitblogger John, as he’s known to readers of Metro Times and thousands of his own online readers, was named Journalist of the Year by the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists last week.
The writer, who has been featured under his pseudonym in the paper’s pages for the last three years, has developed a specialty telling human interest stories of the city from the poignant (a touching portrait of a family of squatters) to the improbable (the guy with a private strip club in his home). The SPJ committee, which awards the honor, wrote that he impressed them for telling “stories … that no one else bothers to find, and his perceptive and gritty story-telling as well as his writing and photographic ability.
“With his blog, we gorged on several spicy slices of Detroit life that he served up, enjoying each and every paragraph. Detroiters need to know that there is hope and they should stop looking for it from the mayor or city council and look around their own neighborhoods. The reporting that [he] does showcases the real Detroit.”
Detroitblogger was the name that John Carlisle, an editor for the suburban C&G newspaper chain, adopted when he began his blog, and he continued to use it when Metro Times began running his stories. And although he continues to cross-post his stories and photos at his blog, and has thousands of his own followers on Facebook, he now considers Metro Times his main outlet. His stories appear roughly every other week.
And in the time he’s appeared in Metro Times, his media stature has grown substantially. He’s now a go-to guy for out-of-town journalists who want a sense of the city, not to mention someone folks read for stories to follow. CBC, BBC, MTV, the Los Angeles Times, Vice, Rolling Stone and The Nation have all availed themselves of his knowledge in one way or another.
Last year, he won a first place for feature writing in the Detroit chapter’s SPJ contest. This year, in addition to his Journalist of the Year win, he took first and second places in the feature photography competition for Class A newspapers.
Detroitblogger’s wins were among a number of Metro Times honors in this year’s contest. MT news editor Curt Guyette was also a finalist in the Journalist of the Year competition, and arts and culture editor Travis R. Wright was a finalist for Young Journalist of the Year.
In feature photography, a photo by freelancer Joe Gall took third place, giving MT a sweep of the feature photography competition for Class A.
The paper also swept the Class A criticism category. Film writer Jeff Meyers took first place, followed by former music editor Bill Holdship (for reviews of books by Patti Smith and others). Third place went to MT’s Music Issue package “Detroit’s Greatest Hits That Should Have Been” by Brian Smith, W. Kim Heron and Metro Times staff.
In other categories, former design director Sean Bieri and photographer Cybelle Codish took first place in feature page design for the cover of the 2010 Lust Issue, while Guyette took a second place award in single editorials for “End the War,” an “eloquent and persuasive essay-style editorial” — as the judges described it — calling for the legalization of drugs.
Second place for website went to MT web editor Casey O’Neil and MT staff for metrotimes.com.
For a full accounting of the regional awards and judges’ comments, see spjdetroit.com.