Detour Detroit joining with Outlier Media to grow ...

Detour Detroit joining with Outlier Media to grow the future of independent local journalism in Detroit

The Detour newsletter is here to stay, and teaming up with Outlier will help us better serve readers like you and make a difference in the community we love.

Outlier Media Executive Director Candice Fortman, Editor-in-Chief Sarah Alvarez, Product and Engagement Manager Kate Abbey-Lambertz and Senior Director of Audience and Growth Ashley Woods Branch. Credit: Nick Hagen

In the four years since we launched Detour Detroit, it’s been readers like you who helped turn our vision for a little newsletter startup into a full blown local media organization.

It’s funny to think back to 2018, but we started something new and different here. Now, hundreds of towns and cities have a curated newsletter, but we were ahead of the curve. People questioned whether anybody would even read stories that were created for your email or advertise their small business with a newsletter ad. Few people believed that you could build community inbox to inbox, or that an email newsletter like Detour could win national journalism awards for our reporting on the 2020 elections and COVID-19 (to be fair, we didn’t see the pandemic coming either). We broke new ground here, together, and we’re not done yet.

Detour has officially joined forces with our frequent collaborators Outlier Media to help grow the future of independent local journalism in Detroit together.

As a Detroit-based service journalism organization, Outlier Media powers products like its free SMS service and the Detroit Documenters community to empower residents to get the information and accountability we all deserve. We are thrilled to bring Detour into this trailblazing newsroom that lives its values every day – and the snacks at the office are pretty great, too. 

Going forward, the Detour Detroit newsletter, Detroit Development Tracker and other Detour projects will be published under the Outlier Media umbrella. There aren’t many – if any – examples of this kind of indie media merger, but we believe being stronger and working with a bigger team will help us better serve readers like you and make a difference in the community we love.

While the names on our paychecks will be changing, Ash, Kate and the Detour newsletter will still be here. And while we truly are crushed to change our relationship with some of our frequent contributors, we are proud to offer our regular contractors a generous severance payment and assistance with future career moves. They deserve it. 

As a reader, you truly made Detour Detroit possible. We are so grateful. And we hope you’ll help us keep Detour going by continuing to read and share our newsletters and original journalism once we move to Outlier Media. 

Scroll down to the FAQ below for more information about our move to Outlier Media and what it means to you. If your time as a Detour reader has come to an end, feel free to unsubscribe on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email. 

You can still help us keep Detour going by becoming a member of Detour Detroit (and Outlier Media!) today. A few bucks a month will help us continue to produce the Detour newsletter and make improvements to the brand new Detroit Development Tracker. As founding supporters of Outlier Media, you’ll also help our squad hire a groundbreaking City Council reporter this spring who will use Outlier’s SMS tool and the Detroit Documenters to connect resident needs directly to City Hall. We’ll continue to process membership payments through Detour’s system while we work to build a new community for members, donors and collaborators at Outlier Media. You can also donate directly to Outlier Media here. We’ll always be here if you have questions or concerns about your membership and the impact you’re making on Detroit.

We couldn’t have done any of this without you. Scroll down for answers to more of your burning questions, and please take our reader survey when you have a minute. Thank you for all your support!

The Outlier Media team. Credit: Nick Hagen


How do I get in touch with you? 

If you have questions or issues that aren’t answered here, or just want to say hi, you can now reach Ash and Kate at ashley@outliermedia.org and kate@outliermedia.org. You can also still hit reply – our ashley@detourdetroiter.com and kate@detourdetroiter.com emails will be active through March. 

Why are y’all making this change? 

Like most big decisions, there were many factors. And this was a REALLY BIG decision.

Ash & Kate truly believe we can better serve Detroiters by joining Outlier Media. Even though we have very different models, both our organizations believe in building new products that put readers and users first. We are also all collaborative by nature, which is not always a given in a competitive industry like media. 🙂

We are fangirls of Outlier’s service journalism and the Detroit Documenters program, and want to help connect that work to more readers like you. The merger will also give Kate and Ash more stability and capacity to focus on the work we love doing (which is why we launched a news startup, anyway). 

Ok, can you tell me more about Outlier?

Outlier serves thousands of Detroit residents every week with on-demand journalism through its SMS messaging system and has trained almost 300 citizen journalists to attend 227 government meetings as Detroit Documenters. Outlier reporters also regularly report and publish pieces on longstanding problems Detroiters identify – and, of course, they bring you The Dig.

In 2021, Outlier Media was profiled in the New York Times, showcasing its innovative approach to redefining local news. Find out more about Editor-in-Chief Sarah Alvarez, Executive Director Candice Fortman and the Outlier team. And stay tuned, a new Outlier website will be launching soon!

What does this change mean for me? 

It means you get to be part of a groundbreaking service journalism startup founded by women of color. We’re centering the voices of Detroiters in every aspect of our reporting through our commitment to providing residents with the information they need to make change in their lives. We’d love to chat about how you can become a bigger part of what we are doing by becoming a Detroit Documenter or helping with the Detroit Development Tracker. 

We’re excited to continue publishing Detour while spending time learning about how the newsletter, as well as Outlier’s other journalism, can better serve your needs (and wants) when it comes to surviving and thriving in Detroit. As part of that process, we’ll be asking for your input again and again – but if you have any initial thoughts, please take a few minutes to share them in our survey

What does this mean for my favorite Detour writers? 

We were able to offer our regular contributors a severance payment and, in many cases, assistance with finding new opportunities! The door is always open for them to contribute to work at Outlier.

You can still find Serena Maria Daniels (@serenamaria36) at the helm of the delicious Tostada Magazine. Nina Ignaczak (@ninaignaczak) is cranking out can’t-miss environmental reporting at Planet Detroit. Kelsey Hubbell (@kelseyahubbell) will be launching more events and news this spring as Roots to Rise Detroit, where she’ll be bringing back a revamped version of Detour’s Get Busy newsletter this spring. And you can find work from Courtney Wise Randolph (@shes_cwise) in a bunch of publications, including a recent Outlier piece about east side economic development – follow her on Twitter or at her site for more.

Detour newsletter and reporting

How do I keep reading the Detour newsletter?

Don’t worry – we’ll still be publishing the Detour newsletter every week! It will still be sent from Kate’s Detour email until at least March 31. Soon after, it will be sent from Outlier – you can get a head start by whitelisting kate@outliermedia.org or adding that email address to your contacts to make sure our newsletters don’t get marked as spam. Here are instructions for whitelisting for different email clients.

If you’re not already receiving the Detour newsletter, you can still subscribe now.

How do I unsubscribe from the Detour newsletter and avoid sharing my email address with Outlier?

If you don’t want to keep receiving the Detour newsletter once it’s coming from Outlier, you can unsubscribe via a recent Detour email in your inbox. Make sure to unsubscribe by March 31 if you don’t want your email address shared with Outlier. Of course, you will always be able to adjust your newsletter preferences, unsubscribe or resubscribe in the future. 

What does this mean for my email subscription data?

Your email address will be added to the Outlier Media mailing list and system on or after April 1. If you do not want your data shared with Outlier Media, please unsubscribe from our mailing list by March 31. We will never share your email with outside parties without your permission.

What about the Get Busy newsletter?

While the Detour newsletter will continue to highlight culture, community and ways to connect in and around Detroit, the Get Busy events newsletter – on hiatus this winter – will not be published through Outlier. We’re excited to hand the reins to Kelsey Hubbell, who was already improving Get Busy as its regular writer in the last few months. Kelsey will bring back a revamped events newsletter this spring through Roots to Rise Detroit.

If you’re already a subscriber to Get Busy, keep your eyes peeled for forthcoming details in your inbox, along with opportunities to opt out. If you aren’t a subscriber, you can sign up now on her site.

What will happen to Detour’s archives and previous reporting?

DetourDetroiter.com is still currently active. In the next few months, we will migrate the site archives to Outlier’s website to ensure past reporting remains available. We will reach out to previous contributors with updates about where their articles will be hosted. 

Membership and supporting our work

How did you spend Detour member dollars?

Detour members helped fund incredible original reporting by the Detour team and the sending more than 500 editions of the Detour, Get Busy, The Dig and The Blend newsletters to upwards of 20,000 readers. We partnered with publications like BLAC Detroit, Flint Beat, Tostada Magazine and Outlier to help them launch their own newsletters and teamed up with Planet Detroit on numerous reported stories.

We also worked to build trust and connections with our readers in ways that have inspired other news startups across North America, like our volunteer hangouts, Keep Detroit Local initiative, community Facebook group and our engagement tracker for the 2020 elections. Our work garnered numerous national awards from organizations like LION Publishers, the Local Media Association and the Society for Professional Journalists. And of course, we built the Detroit Development Tracker, helping every Detroiter find out more info about what’s happening on their block. 

How do I keep supporting Detour and Outlier as an existing member? 

As long as you don’t deactivate your membership, we’ll continue to process payments through the Detour system and you’ll remain a member. In the meantime, we’ll be working to build a new program for members, donors and collaborators at Outlier Media, and will update you with plenty of advance warning if there are any changes that affect your membership in the future.

How do I become a paying supporter?

You can still help us keep Detour going by becoming a member of Detour Detroit (and Outlier Media!) today. You can also donate to Outlier here. Your support will help continue to fund Detour while also helping us grow many other essential services, like:

  • Conducting our information needs assessment with Detroit residents to identify needs and accessibility issues.
  • Using an SMS text on-demand service to provide information and resources.
  • Writing more stories that reflect the diversity of Detroiters’ needs and experiences, which are often not told.
  • Recruiting and training more Detroit Documenters to attend more civic meetings.
  • Writing more investigative stories to increase transparency and accountability.

Stay tuned for more details about a new Outlier membership program later this year.

How do I see my membership plan or adjust it?

If you are currently a Detour member, you can log into your Memberful profile anytime at: https://detourdetroit.memberful.com/account/subscriptions

If you don’t have a password, Memberful will send a one-click sign-in link to the email you used to register. 

The Subscription page shows your current plan and payment schedule – Starter, Sustainer or Builder – aka whether you are paying $5, $10 or $15 monthly or $50, $100 or $150 annually. It also shows when your next renewal date is and allows you to change your plan. If you decide to change your plan, it won’t take effect until your next renewal date. 

Visit the “Update card” page to change the credit card you use for your membership. The “Orders” page shows your membership payment history. We will alert you to any future changes in our billing processes as we navigate this transition.

How do I cancel my Detour membership? 

You can deactivate your membership by signing in to your Memberful account here: https://detourdetroit.memberful.com/account/subscriptions

If you don’t have a password, Memberful will send a one-click sign-in link to the email you used to register. 

The Subscriptions page includes details about your current membership plan. On this page, you can also change your plan and decide whether you want it to auto-renew (which is selected by default). 

To discontinue your membership, just make sure the auto renew button is toggled off, now or any time in the future. Complete this by March 31 If you do not want your member data shared with Outlier Media. 

That’s all you have to do – we won’t charge you again, though we hope you’ll stick around and keep reading, and consider joining again soon. If you have any trouble deactivating your membership or have a Memberful issue not addressed here, email one of us.

What does this mean for my membership data? 

If you continue to support Detour as a paying member, your membership profile and payment information may be transitioned to a new system operated by Outlier Media in the future. We will work diligently to respect your privacy and to communicate any future changes well before they occur, along with the choice to opt out. If you do not want your member data shared with Outlier, please deactivate your membership by March 31 following the instructions above. We will not use your membership data for any other purposes.

I’d love to contribute – do you need more writers, photographers, etc? 

Yes! Writers can join Outlier’s Freelance Journalist Network by filling out this form. If you are interested in getting paid to attend and take notes on public meetings, you can sign up to become a Detroit Documenter here to get access to assignments, training and more. If you’re a photographer, designer, social media expert or have another skill you’d be interested in contributing to Outlier, email us.

What if I have another question or comment?

We want to hear it! Email Ash or Kate, or just hit reply to this or any recent Detour newsletter in your inbox.

Ashley Woods Branch is the founder and CEO of Detour Media, a local journalism startup that builds community, spotlights neighborhood issues and curates Detroit news through an equitable perspective. Ashley leads Detour’s audience growth strategies, community partnerships, revenue operations and strategic planning. She’s also a sought-after consultant for digital newsrooms and has worked with more than 100 news outlets across America. Ashley previously led consumer experience and digital strategy at the Detroit Free Press and was the editor of HuffPost’s Detroit bureau, as well as a reporter and editor focused on Detroit culture and development for MLive, Real Detroit Weekly and Model D. She was a 2019 Marshall Memorial Fellow and a 2018 Visiting Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University. Follow her on Twitter: @ash_detroit