Election Law 101 (Guest: John Bebow)

Election law … and the courts … dominate politics as we begin 2024:

  • Michigan’s redistricting re-do – what, why, and how!
  • The Supreme Court’s challenge from conflicting decisions on Trump’s ballot access
  • A separate Supreme Court challenge on whether the President is above the law … or, as Nixon famously told David Frost decades ago “but when the President does it, that means that it’s not illegal”

Also this week:

  • Another candidate steps up to succeed Dan Kildee in Congress, and immediately becomes the Democratic frontrunner
  • Kristina Karamo’s days as Michigan Republican Party chair may be numbered
  • And a new report illustrates how Donald Trump and his family used the U.S. government to rake in millions for their businesses.
John Bebow (Bridge Michigan photo)

We’re joined by award-winning journalist John Bebow. Bebow began his journalism career on a bike delivering newspapers and ended it playing an instrumental role in shaping Michigan’s modern media industry. Bebow, 56, stepped down at the end of 2023 from his role as publisher of Bridge Michigan, a publication that under his leadership won more than 200 state and national awards and was lauded as a national model for economic viability in nonprofit news. He will remain as an executive adviser through 2025.

He had crucial roles in some of the biggest changes in Michigan media over the past 25 years, from uncovering corruption in Detroit as a reporter and helping launch the MLive online news site to launching and growing Bridge Michigan and its sister publication, BridgeDetroit.

In 2006, Bebow was the first employee of The Center for Michigan, that launched what was then Bridge Magazine in 2011. When the latest round of expansion concludes this month, Bridge and the Center will have more than two dozen full-time employees, with offices in Ypsilanti and Lansing and a more than $4 million annual budget.

“It is exponentially more rewarding than any story that ever appeared under my byline,” Bebow said of Bridge’s growth. “It’s so far beyond my wildest dreams, it would have taken me two bottles of Jack Daniel’s to have dreamed up the ridiculous success that has happened.”

Bebow has had ink in his blood since middle school, when he delivered the Lansing State Journal on a route in his Ingham County hometown of Mason.

After graduating from Western Michigan University, he worked at the Lansing State Journal, Traverse City Record-Eagle and Ann Arbor News before joining The Detroit News. There, he covered the mob, corruption in casino development and troubles in the city water department. He deployed to Iraq to cover the war for the News in 2003, and was injured in a military truck mishap. After a stint at the Chicago Tribune, John returned to his home state, where, for the Detroit Free Press, he investigated Baker College.

Bebow was part of the launch of MLive, which served as an early model for publications moving stories online. There, he rose to become editor in chief.

“Without John Bebow, there is no Bridge Michigan,” said David Egner, CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. (Bridge photo by Brayan Gutierrez)

At Bridge, the former investigative reporter became a prolific fundraiser, a shrewd accountant, and a boss that demanded the best of his employees while sticking to a mantra of “family first,” giving staffers generous time off to deal with family issues.

“I have tremendous admiration and respect for my colleagues,” he said. “I lit a lot of fires, (but) I think a lot of that was needed at various points to get to where we are today. It was the product and the impact that were first and foremost.”

By almost any measure, those efforts worked. The initial goal of Bridge in 2011 was to reach 10,000 Michigan residents. By 2022, annual readership had swelled to 7.8 million. In 2024, there will be about 20 journalists putting out at least six online editions and five newsletters every week.

And, for the record, that introduction was copied word-for-word from Bridge Michigan – because nobody does it better!

The perfect gift for the democracy lovers in your life!


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