Media

Detroit Investigative Reporter M.L. Elrick Quits Fox 2 After 7-Plus Years


December 17, 2019, 8:36 PM by  Allan Lengel

Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winner M.L. Elrick, an investigative reporter for more than seven years at Fox 2, has quit. His last day was Tuesday.

He had been working without a contract and opted to leave. 

In an internal message to the staff, obtained by Deadline Detroit, Elrick, in part wrote:

For everyone else, this is my last day at Fox 2. I had hoped to have a private word with many of you before today, but I've been trying to run through the tape doing stories and tying up loose ends and so I failed miserably at catching up with many of you who mean so much to me. I'm sorry about that, but I'm also very bad with good byes, so it's probably for the best...

I don't know what else to say, but I've always believed the work should speak for itself, so I'll leave it here.

"I can't talk now, I'm headed to see The Fixx at the Majestic Theatre with Jim Schaefer and some other friends at the Free Press," Elrick said Tuesday night. Elrick and Schaefer, now an editor at the Free Press, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for their coverage of the text scandal involving then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. 

Elrick declined to comment further. 

It was no secret that Elrick was unhappy that the station had abruptly suspended his  successful weekly podcast, "Soul of Detroit," after his last podcast on Aug. 29. 

He had been broadcasting since February on Drew Lane's Red Shovel Network podcast group, initially with the permission of the station's general manager Mike Renda, who retired in June. Renda's replacement Greg Easterly was the one who put a halt to the podcast. 

In September Elrick posted this on Facebook:

"It is with great regret that I write my podcast, ML's Soul of Detroit, is 'on pause' until further notice."

Some of Elrick's supporters responded to his Facebook post with dismay, and one went as far as as to speculate: "Conspiracy theory: the new boss is in cahoots with DTE. You exposed them and they're shutting you down. Seriously, I want to speak to whoever's in command."

The comment apparently referred to an Aug. 1 podcast titled "Fight the Power," in which Elrick talked about DTE's steep rate hikes and compared its record with other ulitities when it comes to restoring power. The utility advertises on Fox 2.

Peter Ternes, a DTE spokeman, told Deadline Detroit in September that the energy company played no role in the decision to suspend the podcast. "We have not had any conversations with any media outlets regarding M.L. Elrick or his podcast," he said in a statement.

General manager Easterly did not immediately return a call for comment on Tuesday night from Deadline Detroit.   

Elrick is the second Pulitzer Prize winner to leave the station in recent years.

Charlie LeDuff, now a contributor to Deadline Detroit, left the station in 2016. He was among reporters who won a Pulitzer at the New York Times in 2001 for a series on "How Race is Lived in America.” 

Elrick's message to the staff

Friends, colleagues, Rob Wolchek,

If you're familiar with "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," you know that subject line is hilarious. (You'll also know that "42" is the answer, but the search for the question continues!)

For everyone else, this is my last day at Fox 2. I had hoped to have a private word with many of you before today, but I've been trying to run through the tape doing stories and tying up loose ends and so I failed miserably at catching up with many of you who mean so much to me. I'm sorry about that, but I'm also very bad with good byes, so it's probably for the best.

In a chance of pace, I'll try to be brief. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you, get to know you, and to serve with you - because, unlike many of the people I cover, I believe serving the public is the highest calling there is.

Before I arrived 7-1/3 years ago, I gave Kevin a case of yard beers and 100 "Kwame Sutras" to put out in the newsroom. Since I could really use a beer right about now, the best I can do is leave a shitload of "Kwame Sutras" for those of you who still have not completed your holiday shopping.

I don't know what else to say, but I've always believed the work should speak for itself, so I'll leave it here.  You can always reach me at 313-xxx-xxxx. (We removed number and email.)

And if I don't run into you in Room 7609, please know how much you all mean to me, and that I wish you only the best!

Happy holidays - and I hope to see you on the street!

ml 



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Potd_hippos_625 Metal sculptures on Lincoln Street, south of W. Grand Blvd., in Detroit

By: Allan Lengel