Kristen M. Clark

Michigan debates, passes "right to work" laws

Less than three months into my time with the Lansing State Journal, the controversial issue of "right to work" legislation came before the Michigan Legislature in December 2012.


In a span of less than six days near the end of a lame-duck session, two bills were introduced, debated without committee hearings, voted on and signed into law by the governor - all while thousands of demonstrators rallied at the Michigan Capitol in protests that drew national attention and attracted more than 10,000 people at their peak.


Initially, I was tasked with simply monitoring the action in the legislative chambers, while other State Journal reporters followed the protests outside. But by taking initiative and a web-first approach, I ended up leading the legislative coverage inside the Capitol and helped brand the LSJ as the go-to place for news and analysis on those historic days. I reported the news through live tweets and other social media posts, photos, videos, web updates, TV appearances and comprehensive analysis for the next day's newspaper.


At one point, the Detroit Free Press and picked up my reporting as their lead story - above the work of more veteran capitol reporters or even the Associated Press.


The State Journal staff would later win multiple awards for our reporting on the laws' passage and the accompanying protests over right-to-work's arrival in Michigan.


Below is a comprehensive look at my reporting during that tumultuous week:


December 2012

Analysis for the Lansing State Journal (print edition)

"Labor legacy takes a hit"   •  Dec. 12, 2012


"'Monumental decision'"   •  Dec. 7, 2012


"Ground zero"  •  Dec. 10, 2012


"Bill exempts police and fire unions"  •  Dec. 8, 2012

Updates for

On social media •  compiled using


I used Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tout to capture the sights, sounds and news as it unfolded over the course of the week - before, during and immediately after:

Video on

RAW VIDEO: First protestors enter Michigan Capitol for right-to-work protests  •  Dec.11, 2012

RAW VIDEO: Protestors chanting in the Michigan Capitol rotunda as Legislature prepares to take up final passage of right-to-work legislation   •  Dec.11, 2012

"On The Record with Greta Van Susteren"  •  Fox News Channel  •  Primetime  •  Dec. 7, 2012

Local and national TV appearances

WZZM ABC-13  •  Grand Rapids, Mich.  •  Noon broadcast   •  Dec. 6, 2012

Google+ Hangout: "A regional look at Right to Work, unions"  •  •  Dec. 12, 2012

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Recorded using Apple iPhone 4s.

Recorded using Apple iPhone 4s.

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Winner: 1st place, Best Sustained Coverage of a Single News Event - staff award, Michigan Associated Press Media Editors (2012)


Winner: 1st place, Most Innovative Story Telling - staff award, Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper Contest (2013)