ELi Hosts Telethon with Actual Famous People

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Mark your calendars, people of East Lansing! In an effort to hit our 2021 Sustainability Campaign fundraising goal, we will be hosting a telethon on Wednesday, Dec. 30, from noon to midnight!

UPDATE: The schedule and viewing info is here!

Our guests will include a number of local folks brought on to talk with us about your favorite topics, including investigative journalism in East Lansing, the driveway drama, civil rights, big redevelopment, and East Lansing High School football.

We are looking forward to great public conversations with Sam Hosey (ELi’s Board President), Alex Hosey (ELi youth reporter and Michigan civil rights leader), Mark Grebner (county commissioner and lawyer for many a David v. Goliath case in East Lansing), Jiquanda Johnson (ELi’s Vice President, Publisher of FlintBeat, and founder of Brown Impact Media Group), and more!

But in addition to special guests from our own area, we’ve booked big names in national media to talk with us about the state of news in America today and more generally to enthrall you with their insights and experiences while you pull out your credit cards or log into your bank accounts to send us money so we can keep bringing East Lansing the news in 2021.

Our guests will include Emily Yoffe, contributing writer for The Atlantic (with bylines also at The Washington Post, Oprah Magazine, and the LA Times), known to many for her time at Slate magazine, including as Dear Prudence. Emily has been on The Colbert Show twice for some of her more hilarious reporting, but we’ll be asking her as well about how she brings uncomfortable news in such a politically-charged moment.

We’ll also be talking with John Schwartz of The New York Times whose current beat is climate change but who has also reported on NASA, the Supreme Court, and public infrastructure. John is also the author of four books, including Short: Walking Tall in the World When You’re Not Tall at All, and Living Terrors: What America Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe. We’ll see if we can’t convince John to quit the Times and come work for ELi where he’ll get to take on ten different beats at once!

We’ll also have on Emily Nussbaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic for The New Yorker magazine – and you can bet we will talk with her about “Parks & Rec,” the show that keeps those of us who report on East Lansing City Council sane! We’ll also talk with her about her experiences as a long-time reporter in American print media and how she thinks about big infotainment. And: What’s it like to get a Pulitzer?

We’re not done! Internationally-known advice columnist, political commentator, and LGBT rights advocate Dan Savage will be joining us to talk about what makes news and what’s happened in the news economy – including for alt-weeklies, news organizations like The City Pulse that for years have helped fill local news reporting gaps in America, but are now suffering from a radically changed news revenue system. He and I might also reminisce about the time I live-tweeted my son’s sex ed class at ELHS and it went internationally viral. Oops.

Wait, wait, there’s more! Yes, indeed, NPR’s Peter Sagal – host of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the NPR news quiz – will be joining us to talk about his terrific marathoning memoir, The Incomplete Guide to Running. We plan to see if we can stump Peter with our own East Lansing version of “Bluff the Listener.” You can get a copy of Peter’s book right now – autographed by him for ELi donors! – through our special Keep ELi Running campaign link, while supplies last.

All of these people are helping because they care about high-quality, independent news, and they know we’re in a college town slammed by the pandemic. They also know local news is threatened all over America.

But how will we fill twelve hours? Well, there’s talk of my mom coming on to tell you what I was like when I was a kid, and of Emily’s aunt coming on to explain why Emily once ran down a street chasing an eyeball. That will be during the late night, we expect, when we’ve run out of guests and start mixing cocktails and calling our east-coast relatives to compare accents.

Besides accepting your donations and giving you live updates on our fundraising progress, we’ll be inviting you to send in questions for our conversations with guests.

UPDATE: The schedule and viewing info is here!

And yes, you can just donate right now!

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