Blog: Anthony Morrow

Anthony Morrow knows just how much Detroit rocks. He's the editor & publisher of Detour --a music, film and culture blog out of Royal Oak--, the creator of both Metro Times' Blowout, and Detour's Rock City music festivals. Anthony has also shot videos for the White Stripes, Von Bondies, and Specs Howard. That enough street cred for you? He'll be writing about what it takes to start an Internet publication, and keep it going.

Anthony Morrow - Post 1: The Birth of a Detroit Blog

I got laid off. That’s how Detour started. I mean, the idea had been brewing, and I planned to make it a reality sooner or later. But in that moment of someone telling me I was no longer needed, I became hell-bent on starting my own thing.

It was a blessing really. After three tours of duty and seven job titles over an eight-year stretch at Metro Times, I still had no career path. And I was frustrated. I thought the paper suffered from a lack of vision. I felt that we needed to target a younger audience, which meant writing less about politics and incinerators and upscale restaurants and more about the burgeoning indie music and cultural scene and while we’re at it, let’s produce some cool, provocative covers. My ideas of where the paper needed to go fell on deaf ears. I pushed for more control because, in my mind, I thought I could be groomed to be a publisher. In their minds, I was expendable.
I knew right then that no one was going to ever make me a publisher so I had to promote myself and take a chance. I remember reading Robert Rodriguez’s book on filmmaking, and he said, before he even made a film, he produced business cards that bore the title "Director." That was the spirit I championed when starting Detour. I wrote a business plan, scouted office space, secured a loan and hired my staff. On June 1, 2007 we launched, and I became a publisher.
But let’s take a quick trip back. For almost twenty years, Metro Times was the only game in town as far as local entertainment/culture publications go. Sometime in 1999, the game changed. Rival rags started popping up. Most of these did not make a dent, but one in particular, Real Detroit, found a niche and began to cut into MT’s market share.
Similar to the way that Real Detroit looked at the media landscape and decided to take a slice of the pie, I surveyed the marketplace and felt as if Detour could fill a void. We explored doing something in print, but those plans were quickly abandoned for a multitude of reasons, the biggest of which was cost. It’s incredibly expensive to produce a weekly or even monthly print product and have controlled distribution throughout metro Detroit. Not to mention, I didn’t want to get lost in the glut of print publications currently mucking up the vestibules and counters of the majority of Detroit’s independent businesses. We also felt that the voice that we would develop for the publication was much better suited for the web. And being exclusively online meant we could post multiple stories each day and drive repeat traffic. The immediacy of the web is unparalleled by any medium. We wanted to cultivate an audience obsessed with getting new information 3-5 times per day.
So we were up and running and churning out content at a breakneck pace. I’m pretty sure this was the hardest any of us had ever worked and personally the most pressure I had ever felt. But it was exhilarating. Our next move was to throw a big ass party.