Another paper sheds its last music critic

Another paper sheds its last music critic


norman lebrecht

December 06, 2016

The Detroit Free Press is laying off 17 in its editorial department to make its 2017 budget.

Among them is the excellent Mark Stryker, who has covered music in motor city for 21 years.

Mark’s last day is December 16. He wants to write a book about jazz musicians.

Mark, never seen hatless, is unlikely to be replaced.


So who will cover the Detroit Symphony?

Mark posts on Facebook:

Public Service Announcement

I have some important news to share. Some of you will be surprised – maybe shocked – to learn that after 21 years as an arts reporter and critic at the Detroit Free Press, I am leaving the paper. Frankly, I’m kind of shocked to have just typed those words myself. The decision is entirely my own. I’m taking advantage of the voluntarily severance package that was offered to all newsroom employees. My last day is (gulp) Dec. 16.

I have been honored to cover culture in this extraordinary city for more than two decades, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done with the support of my editors, particularly the indefatigable entertainment editor Steve Byrne, who has been my direct supervisor for more than a dozen years.

What’s next? Well, my immediate plan over the next few months is to get my long-gestating book on modern and contemporary jazz musicians from Detroit to the finish line. (Yeah!) Otherwise, I’m open to suggestions, though I have started some interesting conversations. We’ll see what happens.



  • Urania says:

    Free lance music students or so who are happy to get a free press ticket.

  • Thomas says:

    Detroit has a Symphony? Lol.

    • Scott Fields says:

      Why is that funny?

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Yes. Among its music directors were: Ossip Gabrilowitsch, the great and underrated Paul Paray, Antal Dorati, Neeme Järvi, and currently Leonard Slatkin.

      Any more questions?

      • Robert King says:

        Yes, indeed, I can second you in agreeing that Detroit has an excellent symphony orchestra, full of good players, who are also friendly, committed, flexible and good fun to work with. I’ve spent a fair few weeks with them over the years. And a fine hall they play in too. There are more than a few recordings of the DSO if people want to have a listen.

    • John says:

      Obviously, you don’t know the field very well. Pity.

    • Adam Stern says:

      A fine orchestra with a noble and admirable history.

    • Paul says:

      Thomas. FYI, the DSO was founded in 1887 and has a long (obviously) and distinguished history. I would recommend that you seek out the many excellent DSO recordings made by Maestros Paray, Dorati, Järvi and Slatkin. And perhaps you are somewhat new to these Slipped Disc pages and the American cultural scene, in general, or you would have been aware of their devestating labor strike in 2010, followed by their amazing recovery.

      Or perhaps your comment was simply an unsuccessful attempt at humor?

  • Mark Stryker says:

    Thanks for taking note and the kind words over the years, but it is incorrect to say I was laid off. I am leaving 100% by my own choice. I accepted a voluntary severance package that was offered to the entire staff. My bosses would have preferred that I stayed.

    It is true that the paper is shedding staff through a combination of forced and voluntary layoffs in order to hit a budget target. It remains unclear how the paper will cover classical music, jazz and the visual arts going forward–
    the three key areas of my work. I can’t speak for the bosses on this score but would note that it’s been just five days since the layoffs and volunteers were finalized.

    As for the Detroit Symphony, I recommend folks take a look at these two stories of mine that ran in the last four days — both on the front page, by the way.

    DSO to make 1st trip to China as part of 2017 Asian tour

    DSO family grows with new training orchestra for adults:

    Coda: My book is titled “Made in Detroit: Jazz From the Motor City” and will be published by the University of Michigan

  • Sandy Mac Mechan says:

    Mark when was your book launched ? I obviously missed the publishing
    date & any subsequent reviews

    Please update me.

    Thanking you in you in advance

    Sandy Mac Mechan
    C: 313.590.3447