Stephen Henderson, the editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press, has won a Pulitzer Prize for his insightful commentary on Detroit’s financial woes and the impact on Detroiters.
It’s the second time in four years that a journalist from the Detroit Free Press won journalism’s most coveted award.
The awards were announced Monday.
Henderson’s commentary was poignant and compassionate but held no punches when it came to calling out inadequate leadership in the city where he grew up and now lives.
“Detroit’s elected leaders have been unable and in many cases unwilling to confront the horrible fiscal imbalances that leave insufficient money for EMS rigs, fire trucks, police officers and public lighting,” he wrote in one piece.
At the same time, Henderson also challenged the idea that African American leadership was solely to blame for Detroit’s problems.
“Simple tag lines and slogans don’t explain Detroit’s financial difficulties, so clinging to them now assures failure in the effort to rebuild the city once it’s back on its financial feet,” Henderson wrote.
Henderson also was an unapologetic supporter of state intervention from an emergency manager, a position that put him at odds with many of the city’s black population.
“He has the courage to ignore the pressure of politics and the hate sometimes directed at him personally and to remind everyone – readers and leaders – where their focus should be,” Paul Anger, editor and publisher of the Free Press, wrote in his letter in support of Henderson for the Pulitzer.
Click here to see the work that won Henderson the Pulitzer.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.