You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 : 8 p.m.

Geoff Larcom: A sad farewell, but a new beginning

By Geoff Larcom

Goodbye - and hello.

Yeah, I’m back, and very grateful for the chance to write a column for

Grateful because it gives me the chance to communicate with you.

Grateful because I still get to write about our fun, fascinating and sometimes maddening town.

But I am not so grateful for the week my former colleagues and I just went through.

Today, we published the final edition of The Ann Arbor News. Those final hours in the newsroom were poignant, sad, funny and yet purposeful, as we tried to put out a solid and historic paper on our final day.

I hope we succeeded. Farewell, Ann Arbor, as the headline said.

And hello again.

I had worked at The News for nearly 24 years, since 1982, with a three-year break to do some hard time on the sports desk at The Detroit News. I’m 51, and my plan was to retire at The Ann Arbor News, a naive notion if there ever was one.

But business conditions intervened, and it will take a long time to shake off all the sadness and questions. Much of Ann Arbor is frustrated or confused. How can a city so affluent lose its only daily paper?

But even more than missing the paper, I’ll miss my colleagues in the newsroom. You can not find a cooler or more vibrant work environment. Sorry, Google. But we can also feel gratified that, of all the cities in our company’s domain, dear old Treetown was deemed the best test site for what could become the new way of doing business in the media.

That makes sense, for Ann Arbor is the ultimate town of contrasts. It’s one reason we like it so much.

Where else can you:

  • Lose yourself in the deep woods of a place such as Bird Hills Park, yet be minutes from downtown?
  • Have two major medical centers, each alone enough to sustain a city twice this size, within a 10-minute drive?
  • Look next to you on at your kid’s soccer practice and see a world-renowned doctor who sets the standard in his field?
  • Eat dinner, attend a performance by someone like Yo Yo Ma, then grab dessert, all within several blocks?
  • Have big-time sports coaches who draw media coverage from around the country, yet who can still dine in relative peace at local restaurants?
  • Be knee-deep in celebrities or major business figures living in our midst, yet have some of the greatest funeral fuss in the last five years come over the death of a beloved street figure, Shakey Jake?
  • Have some of the finest minds in the world working in our midst, yet still have to debate things to death, such as when to build a new city hall?
  • Have world-class restaurants in our midst, yet among most beloved places in town are a breakfast place, Angelo’s, and a state-of-the art greasy spoon, the Fleetwood Diner?
  • Have one of the top college football programs in the country (yes, I mean historically), coupled with one of the most eminent and challenging public universities in the country?
  • Have half the town in love with college football, and the other half thinking that home games represent a fine time to do your Saturday shopping?
  • Find the least vehicle congestion downtown. The closer you get to campus, the less obnoxious you find our traffic.

Yes, we delight in our dual nature, in this paradise of paradoxes.

Ann Arbor is affluent, yet not ostentatious. We can be a tough sell on city or school millages, but we love our parks proposals. We can be righteous, yet tolerant. Budget-conscious, yet benevolent.

Ann Arbor is a town that does a lot of verbs. We love to bike, run, eat, listen, drink, watch, blog, debate, invest, complain, donate, volunteer, walk, write and read. Those last two, that’s where I come in.

Yes, I am hurting this week. Our beloved newspaper shut down, and a part of me will never stop aching.

But I am eager to resume sharing this town’s many moods with you each week. It’s good to be back.

Geoff Larcom is a long-time journalist and native of Ann Arbor who writes a weekly column for



Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 7:56 p.m.

Welcome back, Geoff! You are always a breath of fresh air. rollingrock

Mark Thompson-Kolar

Sun, Jul 26, 2009 : 3:19 p.m.

The earlier comment that The News staff was "a staff that was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the information age" is uninformed. Certainly there was a bell curve of aptitude and interest in technology there, but many people on the staff -- photographers, copy editors, assigning editors, clerks, reporters and production staffers -- who aggressively embraced technology. It's unfair to lay any of the blame of the paper's demise on the staff's willingness to use tech.

Brian Bundesen

Sun, Jul 26, 2009 : 1:47 p.m.

Hey Geoff: Very glad to see you contributing here, and am looking forward to reading your (are they still called) columns.


Sun, Jul 26, 2009 : 12:38 p.m.

I dumped my AA news subscription about a month ago and am still having problems trying to adjust to not being able to sit on my porch and read the paper. But knowing that I can still read Jeff's column(maybe its a blog now that we are digital) makes me a little less sad! Oh look, there is a newspaper in a plastic bag laying in my driveway! (I start to twitch and run toward the paper)! Write on Jeff!!!

Gina Valo

Sat, Jul 25, 2009 : 2:35 p.m.

Geoff, thanks for highlighting the things that make Ann Arbor such an amazing place to live. I couldn't agree more. Though, as a Googler, I'm guessing you've never had the pleasure of eating lunch at our office :)

Tony Dearing

Sat, Jul 25, 2009 : 1:07 p.m.

Laura, we've been honest in saying from the beginning that we're a new company starting out small, and that we would not be able to offer much coverage to communities like Ypsilanti, Saline, Dexter or Brighton. Our goal is to grow quickly and expand our reach. In the meantime, we are offering some coverage of Ypsilanti. For instance, we had a sports reporter at the Sliders' game yesterday, and we're covering the Sumer Beer Festival today. Ypsilanti is fortunate to have the Ypsilanti Citizen and the Courier to provide the level of good, local coverage that we can't right now, but we will expand our coverage of Ypsilanti as soon as we are able to, and we look forward to that.


Sat, Jul 25, 2009 : 10:47 a.m.

Geoff, glad to know you will be part of this exciting new era of community conversation. I've enjoyed reading you for years and am happy to know I'll still have this pleasure going forward. This piece was a treat and made me smile as it reminded me of so many reasons why I love living in Ann Arbor. Best wishes on your new adventure!


Sat, Jul 25, 2009 : 10:43 a.m.

Geoff, Have you ever lived anywhere BUT Ann Arbor. Your endless town-boosting was one reason I was happy to leave A2! It is a town of endless p.c. contankerous people who believe they're superior to the rest of the world, and feel free to scold everyone, because of Ann Arborites "superior" education. It does NOT have world class restaurants (check any national gourmet ratings--the only thing rated high is Zingermann's!) Go to NYC, Santa Fe, San Francisco, etc. and you'll discover what really good food IS! I only mention this because it's so typical of Ann Arbor's overrating of itself. (I know your Dad was the mayor, and your Mom was a prof--I knew both of them and adored them!) Your endless hometown boasting,however, just makes me sick, because it's so typical of Ann Arbor smugness. I once heard A2 mentioned as "A town of black and white, gay and straight, Hispanic and non-Hispanic, Asian and non-Asian marching together--AGAINST THE POOR!" Smug, smug, smug. I lived there 38 years and than the powers that be everyday that I'm outta' there! To each his or her (I must be gender inclusive) own!

Laura Griffin

Sat, Jul 25, 2009 : 4:35 a.m.

I am just logging onto the "new" for the first time. It is 524am and I sit here browsing through the bright colors, the links to "the rest of the story" all of it. And what jumps out at me the most, in the midst of all of this new technology, is WHERE IS YPSILANTI in all of this "new and improved" digital media? Are we not part of the Ann Arbor Community? Are we not the little sister of Ann Arbor? Where in the whole "Neighborhoods" area of this new layout is there a section for Ypsilanti? We live here, breathe here, raise our families here, work here, dine here, have our lives here, yet there is no respresentation anywhere on this "new and improved" portal of information! Do we not deserve to know what is happening in our neighborhoods? is more than happy to take our Ypsilanti money for continuing our subscriptions to this new twice a week paper, yet there is no representation or stories about us. The closing of the GM plant at Willow Run, and the trickle down effect on the surrounding business, effects so many families. The story about the dual personalities of Ann Arbor never mentions anything about the town next door, the town with families who dine, shop, work, and play in Ann Arbor. If the citizens of Ypsilanti stopped doing all of this in Ann Arbor, I am sure the loss would be felt. I do not agree with the whole demise of the written press, do not agree with assuming that everyone will just LOVE this new electronic media, but as with all of the other changes happening in the world, we just go with it because there is nothing we can do about it. But in looking at this site this morning, I would just ask the Ypsilanti not lose its representation. We have always been the annoying little sister to the mighty Ann Arbor (Eastern Michigan the little sister to University of Michigan, St Joes the little sister to U of M hospital) but being the little sister still means that we are part of the greater family. It would be nice to see us in the family tree!


Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 11:41 p.m.

Good to see you here Geoff.--Sam Fine


Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 6:52 p.m.

Being born and raised here let me offer the con side. Why it sucks to live in A2 I get my Sunday A2 newspaper and no coverage for the Daytona 500. I call the sports editor and he asks me if this was a important race, duh! If it isn't about the U of M they don't care! Students can vote tax increases for my home because what does it mean to them? The city can tell the homeowner you have to get a sump pump because not enough tax dollars to upgrade the storm drains. This is because the U of M pays no tax dollars. When I was young Ypsi got the 1st Burger King and discount chain Arlans. Yep A2 is world class. Briarwood mall is a joke compared to surrounding malls. They closed The Stadium Tavern for a freakin bank! When I bailed out my taxes were 64 mils, ridiculous! A2 was one of the 1st to build no curb bike paths on sidewalks. No one uses them and the bikers now have reign on the city streets. Who else would allow a double roundabout at the new high school when 16 year olds have such a great driving record. The elderly that still have homes are to haul the garbage down to the street by themselves which is a shame for the tax dollars they spend. This used to be such a great town to live in but it has been catered to the affluent yuppies who never grew up here. I'm glad I'm gone and goodbye A2 News, even you can't see you got pushed out.


Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 4:06 p.m.

Great article about all the wonderful things AA has to offer. I am sure for those of you who have worked at the News and for those who have relied on the paper for years the closing is a sad farewell. It is also a farewell that symbolizes the success and progressiveness of this community. I look forward to reading about all that happens in Ann Arbor and interacting with this community via


Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 3:02 p.m.

Welcome, Geoff!! When we moved to A2 11 years ago, your columns were an invaluable insight into the psyche of this great place!! I agree with those who noted that the News had become a shell of its former self. My sister, who lives in DC, remarked this week that the same thing is happening to the venerable Post!! My greatest regret at this point is for the paper deliverers. For both my boys, delivering the News was the first "real" job and an immense responsibility on young shoulders. I feel sad that this opportunity will not be available to future young Arborites. Well, I suppose they'll make their money rebooting the computers of the old fogeys in the neighborhood who can't figure out how to get on line!! I WILL miss the ink on my fingers along with the coffee!!!

David Bishop

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 2:25 p.m.

I hope AA.Com appreciates the valuable resource you provide. You're a link to the past -- someone who knows what Ann Arbor is all about.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 1:01 p.m.

It's quite sad, but really the perfect storm of an editor who thought he lived in a 1940s movie; a staff that was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the information age (this is true of newspapers staffs across the country - your profession is filled with technophobes); and an community that is increasingly online. The Ann Arbor News could have survived. Many newspapers will survive. Some day, an editor with integrity and an understanding of the changed marketplace will figure it out and Ann Arbor will have the newspaper it deserves. But good to see you here. What are you up to the rest of the week?

Bruce Laidlaw

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 12:40 p.m.

Let's face it. The Ann Arbor News had become a shell of its former self. I recall when a reporter would visit City Hall every day to dig for stories. Ron Cordray would pass out copies of the day's newspaper to inspire people to come up with newsy tidbits. The News used to have investigative reporters who would dig deep into stories. I don't see how can fill the need for a newspaper with out of full staff of reporters. But I will try to keep an open mind.

Brian Shensky

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 10:03 a.m.

"How can a city so affluent lose its only daily paper?" Maybe it's because a city so affluent is also progressively in tune with the digital age, and understands that, in a world replete with blogs, Twits and social networking posts, the very media that carries news must evolve to keep up. We haven't lost a paper, really. The Ann Arbor News was a caterpillar. You finish the metaphor.

Renee Tellez

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 9:39 a.m.

Well said, Mr. Larcom! I enjoyed working with you at The Ann Arbor News for the past 17 years and look forward to our new beginnings. It's so good to have you aboard.


Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 8:49 a.m.

"How can a city so affluent lose its only daily paper?" I know people are looking at it like this, and I know there are plenty of people in town who would prefer to get their news on an inky piece of processed bark, but in all honesty this is the wrong sentiment and I hope with time and a great effort from the staff that it will change. We're not losing our daily paper. We're gaining freedom from old methods of publishing and distributing the news. And I'm not surprised or dismayed one bit that our town is trying to lead the way. After 26 years here, I expect this kind of thing in Ann Arbor. So good luck, Geoff, and good luck

Joe Bauer

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 8:49 a.m.

...and the new experiment in media begins.

Tamara Real

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 8:45 a.m.

Thanks, Geoff, for the wonderful article yesterday on the history of The Ann Arbor News. It really gave a great overview of the paper and its accomplishments. I'm looking forward to continuing to read you online!

Barb Roether

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 8:43 a.m.

What a wonderful article. We have only lived here for 8 years and you described this town so well. We moved here as empty nesters and have loved all this town has to offer. Looking forward to keeping up with the news and happenings from

Bob Anderson

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 8:14 a.m.

I agree with Pete, glad to see your at Geoff. Also hopeful you will continue to bring the Ann Arbor stories and history so that our kids don't have to listen to their parents go on and on about the way it used to be here! Bob Anderson

Regular Voter

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 7:35 a.m.

Hey Geoff, glad to see you on here, make it real and connected. The sense of community is what we need to find on here, the daily paper has been central to community and to democracy for a long time, but it's gone now and we need that function brought over to the Web. It'll work. It has to work. Will see you. --Pete Richards


Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 6:06 a.m.

Larc, Great to have you back. Keep the good stuff coming. You know this town so well. Glad to be able to keep reading your narrative of our city.

Deb Burch

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 5:01 a.m.

I am glad that you will still be writing...I would have missed your take on the local perspective. Welcome back!


Thu, Jul 23, 2009 : 10:36 p.m.

Happy to read you are here. Liked your articles over the years and especially the last day. Good job.


Thu, Jul 23, 2009 : 9:45 p.m.

Good to know that you'll be here, Jeff. See you on those walks at night when it's a little foggy and it seems that there's no else on the streets between South U and Ashley.

David Martel

Thu, Jul 23, 2009 : 9:40 p.m.

Geoff - Yes, a sad farewell. But, thank you for this wonderful tribute to Ann Arbor. Having been raised here and then having moved to Washington, DC and San Francisco, I've come back 8 years ago to settle where my roots are deep and I can enjoy all the aspects of this wonderful community which you've described so well. I'm looking forward to what can add to this already vibrant community.

Pam Stout

Thu, Jul 23, 2009 : 9:14 p.m.

I'm grateful to read more of you here as well. Welcome.