Former Seaholm High School student Zachary Gorchow and current editor of Gongwer News Service, in Lansing, knew before he graduated in 1994 that he wanted a career in journalism.
"I sort of knew that Michigan State University had a strong journalism program, and a strong student newspaper, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do," he said.
While his parents had sparked an early interest in current events and the importance of news, Gorchow said he was initially interested in public policy or law.
"By the middle of my freshman year, or that summer, I knew journalism was where I wanted to move toward. I worked at the high school paper at Seaholm, but I knew I needed fresh clips, so I applied and was accepted for an internship at The State News."
As a student at MSU, Gorchow worked at The State News while earning his degree in international relations. He then started writing for the Redford Observer. It was while working for The Observer papers that a colleague from The State News passed word to him that there was an opening at the Gongwer News Service in Lansing.
"I knew what they did and that they wrote about state government and politics, and I wanted to get back to Lansing to write about it," he said. "I like the public policy aspect. I like looking at what people are doing to make things better for the state and the people who are living in the state. I have always found the law interesting, and have always been fascinated by the competition that goes into elections and what is going on in the electorate."
More than a century old, Gongwer provides subscribers with comprehensive, independent coverage of issues in and around Michigan's government political systems. The news service, which is available by subscription only, provides bill tracking of legislation, as well as news about lawmakers and state government. For political junkies, the service is one of the key sources of what happens at the state capital. For Gorchow, it was the perfect opportunity.
"I don't think you can work here successfully if you don't have a passion for it," he said. "If you prefer covering cops or writing features or general assignment, you're not going to be happy here. You have to be interested in what government does."
Gorchow was a staff writer at Gongwer from 1998 until 2005, when he left Lansing to cover Wayne County and the city of Detroit for the Detroit Free Press. In 2009, he left the daily newspaper and returned to Gongwer when he was hired as editor of the Michigan service. In addition to serving as editor, Gorchow leads the service's coverage of the governor's office. In 2015, he was named by The Washington Post as one of the best state political reporters in the country.
While the decision to leave the Detroit Free Press was difficult, he said the opportunity to serve as editor was one he may never get again.
“I loved working for the Free Press. I wasn't looking to leave. I was very happy there. I was covering city hall, and that's about as prominent as a beat there is at the paper," he said. “However, a longtime head of Gongwer's Michigan's office decided to retire. I knew if I didn't go back now, it would probably never happen."