TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., Aug. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Preliminary plans to revive the Detroit Press Club were revealed here today.
“Detroit may be down, but we’re far from out,” said Bob Giles, former director of news operations at ABC’s WXYZ-TV channel 7 in Detroit and a member of the organizing group.
Steve Purdy, treasurer of the Individual Communicators Network (ICN), which is initiating the comeback, commented: “Detroit is taking its licks. We think that by re-establishing the Detroit Press Club we can demonstrate there’s still plenty of life in the city.”
The club originally was formed in 1958 and had peak membership exceeding 500. Its first location was at the Detroit Leland Hotel. Soon after it purchased its own building on Howard at First Street near the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News. When the federal government purchased the site the club moved to the Renaissance Center on the Detroit River in the early ’90s.
Like scores of other press clubs around the nation the club closed in 1994 as media and lifestyles changed with the times and interest waned.
Giles is currently editor of NewCarNews and Purdy is Detroit editor of TheAutoChannel.
Dave Smith, a former Detroit Press Club president, applauded the effort. “The old club was based on comradeship among the media – a place where you could talk shop with your pals, contacts and competitors. The Internet has triggered a sea-change in the media, but there’s still a lot of commonality: Get the story out and get it right.”
Giles said there likely will be several membership categories, as there were in the old club, including working press, public relations practitioners and political and business VIPs. “We want to be inclusive but we would have a membership committee that would have the final say on membership applications,” he added.
Giles and Purdy admitted that a Detroit Press Club renaissance presents significant challenges. “We think the old timers will welcome the return of the Press Club, but appealing to younger folks, and those focused on the ‘new media,’ will be at the top of our list,” said Giles.
The organizers have developed a tentative catalogue of potential benefits for members including:
- An opportunity for those in the Detroit and Michigan media to share thoughts, ideas and stories.
- Access to U.S. and foreign press clubs.
- Lively social and entertainment activities.
- An agenda of prominent speakers on topical subjects, including critics of the Motor City.
- A communications link for members at detroitpressclub.org.
As an ancillary goal, the organizers also plan to re-institute the popular Detroit Press Club Foundation International Wheels Awards honoring excellence in automotive journalism, Purdy said. The Awards were last staged in 2008.
Although the Internet will provide a “virtual” meeting place, Giles said the club may seek a physical location in Detroit and also conduct meetings at outlying sites from time to time.
About ICN: The Individual Communicators Network (http://www.icnpr.net) is a nonprofit business corporation whose members are experienced communicators owning their practices and who work as a team on major projects, including the Wheels Awards and the Michigan Excellence in Journalism Competition for the Detroit Press Club Foundation, which continued on after the Press Club closed. ICN welcomes support from other organizations and individuals in revitalizing the Detroit Press Club, said ICN President David J. Adrian.