From his very early, somewhat nerdy enthusiasm for composing historical book-reports to a career working as a television news reporter, author, columnist and political commentator, Michael has always revered the powerful role that journalism plays in building a stronger civil society. Having had the dual experiences of working as a reporter who covered politics, as well as a strategist managing how campaigns were covered, Michael projects a unique perspective on the media. And he’s never reticent to speak his mind.
After earning a B.A. in Telecommunications from Indiana University, Michael got his start covering Chicago’s pro sports teams on SportsChannel’s Spotlight. He then created and hosted two locally broadcast radio programs: BullSession and HawksWeekly.
Michael interviews members of Barrios Unidos in Fresno, California about gang violence.
In 1994, Michael started working as a news reporter for WHFB-TV (CBS) along the Mississippi River in Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa (Quad Cities). From there he moved on to KSEE-TV (NBC) in central California where his coverage focused heavily on politics, education, criminal justice and health care. In 1996, Michael was honored by the National Academy of Television Journalists for his investigative series on California’s largest corporate/public county hospital merger – and its impact on thousands of indigent local residents.
Feature story in Brill’s Content magazine, January, 2000, about “Behind The Crime” read story
In 1998, Michael was named a National Media Fellow by the Open Society Institute’s Center on Crime, Communities and Culture. He used the fellowship grant to produce and report “BEHIND THE CRIME,” a one-hour documentary that sought to improve local coverage of criminal justice issues. Lauded for its problem-solving approach, Brill’s Content magazine declared the coverage “great journalism and a model for others.” The project earned Michael honors from the Edward R. Murrow Awards, the National Headliner Awards and the Society of Professional Journalists.
“BEHIND THE CRIME” was borne out of a deep frustration Michael had long held regarding the unrealized potential of broadcast journalism – and a belief that reporters and editors should be obligated to provide more context and useful information to “news” consumers. The irony? Nearly 20 years later, and after working on the other side of the microphone as a campaign manager, non-profit cofounder and political author, Michael is as impassioned as ever in his commentary about what he calls the “inherent profit conflict” afflicting corporate news divisions. He writes and speaks about this challenge and related media issues regularly, and includes them as part of the political science curriculum he teaches at Arizona State University and Benedictine University.