Why Ron Fournier is leaving D.C. and heading home to Detroit

As Ron Fournier conceded Monday, "you can go home again."

The Washington journalism stalwart, best known for covering the Clintons and aggressively morphing into an edgy online columnist for The National Journal and The Atlantic, revealed that he'll return to Detroit as associate publisher of Crain's Detroit Business.

"I've had a great ride in Washington — more lucky than good, and blessed with extraordinary editors and colleagues," he writes in The Atlantic.

But, 31 years after leaving his hometown for a post-college job covering cops and courts in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he'll return, in no small measure for reasons of the heart.

He returns often to Michigan, has a cottage in the northern woods and now has a daughter, who was born in Arkansas and raised in the Washington area, living in Detroit. Another daughter is a law student at Michigan State University. Tyler, a son who has Asperger's Syndrome and is centerpiece of Fournier's best-selling "Love That Boy," simply "misses his sisters and extended family in Michigan."

And, he says, "the real news in Detroit is revival and reinvention, and we'd like to be a small part of it. While I've written extensively about institutional reform and the unique optimism and purpose of the millennial generation, the bulk of my work in Washington has been focused on political corruption, dysfunction, and decay. Even from Detroit, I hope to find the time, from time to time, to write for The Atlantic on the Clinton-Trump election."

After his stint in Hot Springs, Fournier moved to Little Rock for the AP where he covered Bill Clinton as a young governor. When the Clintons moved to Washington in 1993, so did he as a well-sourced White House correspondent.

He later moved to the mini-media empire of David Bradley, as an editor and writer at National Journal, then to The Atlantic. In the process, he became adroit as a responsibly provocative online columnist; shedding wire service neutrality but combining its reporting rigor with his analyses of events and people.

It was no surprise to me when the formal word came Monday. We'd conversed about his hankering to return home and of a recent 30th wedding anniversary on beautiful Mackinac Island, a resort island in Lake Huron between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan.

Too many people can stay a bit too long in the nation's capital, especially after attaining a level of stature, as has Fournier. So it is notable, and commendable, that he's picking up and heading home to a city in need.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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