Wayne State University

Jack Lessenberry


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Jack Lessenberry, area head of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University, primarily teaches COM 5080, History and Law of Journalism, and COM 5250, Issues in News Media Management, in addition to supervising all internships for the Department of Communication. He also holds the professional journalist's seat on the WSU Board of Student Publications. When not at Wayne, he serves as Michigan Radio’s senior political analyst and does on-air interviews and commentary on three NPR affiliates every day. He also hosts the weekly television show “Deadline Now” on WGTE-TV, a public broadcasting station in Ohio.

He is or been a writer for many national and regional publications, including Vanity Fair, Esquire, George, the New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Currently, he is a contributing editor and columnist for Metro Times Detroit, the Traverse-City Record Eagle, The Windsor Star and The Toledo Blade, and has written for many other newspapers. He also serves as The Blade's writing coach and ombudsman.

Lessenberry is a former foreign correspondent for and executive national editor of The Detroit News, during which time he reported from more than 40 countries. He has also worked for other newspapers in Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio,and was Editor-in-Chief of both Detroit Monthlyand Corporate Detroit magazines.

He provides regular radio commentary and occasional analysis for other television stations, and won a National Emmy award in 1994 for one of two Frontline documentaries he helped report and produce on Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Lessenberry was named Journalist of the Year in 2002 by the metropolitan Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Lessenberry, 61, has a master's degree in Journalism and East European studies from the University of Michigan. His partner for life, Elizabeth, is a rare books specialist and private librarian and archivist; they live in Huntington Woods and are owned by their Australian Shepherd, Ashley.

Area of Expertise

Lessenberry is a longtime columnist for the Metro Times and senior political analyst for Michigan Public Radio. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun-Times, The Memphis Commercial Appeal and The Toledo Blade, where he currently serves as ombudsman. His awards include a National Emmy Award for documentary film (1994), recognition as the best columnist in the nation writing for an alternative newspaper, a Michigan Press Club First Place Award for Excellence in Journalism, and journalist of the year from the Metropolitan Detroit chapter of SPJ.

Awards & Honors

National Emmy Award for Film documentary, 2004: (Frontline: The Kevorkian File.)

Metropolitan Detroit Journalist of the Year, 2002.

Best alternative newspaper columnist in the nation, 1999.

Many other local and regional awards

Primary Research Interest

Journalism, history, feature writing, editorial, political and economic commentary

I do on average 50 speeches a year to civic groups, mostly about politics, economics and the state of the media.

Recent Publications

I write a weekly column that appears in Detroit's Metro Times and another column that appears weekly in The Toledo Blade, Traverse City Record-Eagle; the Windsor Star and in the online journal Dome Magazine.  www.domemagazine.com.

The May 2010 issue of Hour Detroit has a piece by me on U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and the future of Detroit.

The Fall, 2009 issue of Michigan Alumnus has a story by me that I reported from the White House on U of M alums who work in President Obama's administration.



Lessenberry is responsible for supervising all student internships for the Department of Communication.