Ex-News Reporter Mleczko, Freep Columnist Riley Named to Journalism Hall of Fame

March 09, 2016, 10:28 AM by  Allan Lengel

Lou Mleczko (Photo by Rebecca Cook)

Lou Mleczko, a dogged investigative reporter who worked fo The Detroit News, has been named to the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

Other journalists awarded the honor include Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley, former Free Press sports photographer Julian H. Gonzalez and travel writer-author Dixie Franklin.

The four will be honored at an April 17 banquet at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Riley  has been a columnist at the Free Press nearly 16 years. She frequently appears on television and radio. Before coming to the Free Press, she worked atpapers including  The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post and the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.,

Mleczko grew up in Hamtramck and Warren and in 1969 joined the Akron Beacon Journal as a sports and general assignment reporter. Three years later, he joined The News as a suburban reporter. He exposed structural flaws in Michigan bridges and buildings and let Detroit's unionized newspaper writers and photographers during some of the labor unit's most tumultuous times.

He went on to win awards for his coverage of the 1971 Port Huron water tunnel explosion and the 1976 contract talks between the United Auto Workers and Big Three Detroit automakers, according to a bio he provided Deadline Detroit.

As time went on, he developed a specialty, exposing structural and fire safety defects in major construction projects includingJoe Louis Arena, Renaissance Center, the Detroit People Mover, Pontiac Silverdome and Zilwaukee and Mackinac bridges.

Rochelle Riley

As part of research, he hired nationally-respected structural engineers and fire safety experts.

After the News laid off senior staffers in 1974, he helped unionize newsroom workers and negotiate their first contract. In 1976, while he was a newsroom reporter, he became Guild president and held that post until 2014.

In 1995,  he left the newsroom and joined the Detroit Newspaper Guild, Local 22, as its fulltime assistant administrative officer. He became administrative officer in 1996.

Mleczko lead workers through a 5½-year newspaper strike and lockout. 


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