Free Press fires Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Stephen Henderson over misconduct

Stephen Henderson,managing director of opinion and commentary.

Stephen Henderson, a popular Pulitzer Prize-winning Free Press editor, was fired Friday for “inappropriate behavior.”

Free Press Editor and Vice President Peter Bhatia made the announcement Friday afternoon following a Motor City Muckraker report and subsequent press conference by Rev. W.J. Hideout III about misconduct allegations against Henderson, managing director of opinion and commentary. At the time, we did not identify Henderson, but referred to him as a Free Press editor. 

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Bhatia said the newspaper immediately responded with an investigation and found “examples of inappropriate behavior by Henderson with female colleagues dating back several years.”

“Effective today, Stephen Henderson will no longer be employed by the Detroit Free Press,” Gannett, the owner of the newspaper, said in a statement Friday. “The decision was made after an internal investigation was conducted which uncovered credible allegations that Mr. Henderson’s behavior has been inconsistent with company values and standards.”

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It’s unclear whether Henderson will retain his position as host of “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” on public radio’s WDET.

Earlier this week, the Free Press suggested in a story that Muckraker’s allegations resembled a “witch hunt.” Other members of the media attacked Rideout and the Muckraker story, which also prompted WXYZ-TV to place morning anchor Malcom Maddox on administrative leave. 

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Steve Neavling

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.