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Motor City Muckraker carves out niche in Detroit media landscape

These times are strange ones for news organizations. The type of days where venture-backed online news aggregators cut back and passion-play news sites expand. Motor City Muckraker is a member of the latter.

What started as a news blog by former Detroit Free Press reporter Steve Neavling two years ago this summer is now an online news site that employs Neavling and his girlfriend, Abigail Shah, and gives work to six contributors that write about Detroit all day everyday.

"I write between 2-4 stories a day," Neavling says. "We just started paying contributors a month ago."

Motor City Muckraker
has made a name for itself breaking big stories in a highly competitive news market, going toe-to-toe with some big media players and winning more than anyone expected. Among its editorial highlights is breaking the story about Grosse Pointe Park Police Department officers making racially charged videos last year. That work led to an investigation of the department and the officers implicate in the incident ordered to undergo sensitivity training.

Motor City Muckraker
is produced from Neavling and Shah's apartment in Midtown, employing lean-startup techniques out of necessity that comes with budget constraints. Neavling and Shah provided the little startup capital to get the website up and going while Neavling freelanced for the likes of Reuters and Tickle The Wire. Motor City Muckraker now harvests revenue from Adsense, advertising from local businesses, and crowdfunding campaigns. It recently worked to sell 50 t-shirts with the website's logo on them. They sold 65 and raised $1,300.

"We're using that money as seed money for freelance work," Neavling says. "We want a broad range of stories in different fields."

It's part of Neavling and Shah's vision to turn Motor City Muckracker into something more than just Neavling with a blog. They want Motor City Muckracker to become a central spot for conversations about the city of Detroit and where it is going.

"We want to get to know the city and understand the city," Neavling says.

Source: Steve Neavling, co-founder of Motor City Muckraker
Writer: Jon Zemke
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  • Motor City Muckracker
    Detroit, MI 48201 Website
    Motor City Muckracker is an independent online publication that covers the city of Detroit.