Jonathan Wolman, The Detroit News' Editor and Publisher for Last 12 Years, Dies at 68

April 15, 2019, 12:29 PM

Jonathan Wolman (Photo: Facebook)

Jonathan Wolman, whose career spanned 46 years-- the last 12 as editor and publisher of The Detroit News -- died Monday from complications from pancreatic cancer, the paper reports. He was 68 and lived in Franklin.

A native of Madison, Wisc., Wolman was a longtime Washington bureau chief and executive editor in New York for the Associated Press. He eventually became editor and publisher of The Detroit News, the city where he had his first AP posting outside his hometown.

Daniel Howes of The News writes: 

In his dozen years leading The News, he edited and directed coverage of some of the region’s most consequential stories in the past half century: the bankruptcies of two automakers and later the city of Detroit, the public-corruption conviction of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the Flint water crisis, the continuing revitalization of Detroit, the improbable victory in Michigan of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.

“He found a profession he was sort of made for,” said Bridget Mary McCormack, chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and a close friend of Mr. Wolman and his wife, Deborah Lamm, for the last decade. “He’s a metaphor for the Washington we wish for.”

He evinced the values of a bygone Washington, friends and colleagues say, an ability to disagree without being disagreeable, a keen interest in policy less freighted with politics than the archly partisan capital of today. In Detroit, he worked the back channels of power, Republican and Democrat, business and philanthropy.

"Born to the craft of journalism, he ennobled the profession by his unflinching pursuit of truth," said Reed Hundt, a friend of three decades who chaired the Federal Communications Commission during the Clinton Administration. "He taught me about how to write a book, how to raise a child and how to face facts."

Coincidentally, the news broke a few hours before the annual announcement at Columbia University in New York of Pulitzer Prizes, the profession's highest award.

Tributes: Detroit Journalists Salute 'a Great Teacher' and 'Incredibly Kind' Person

News reporter Oralandar Brand-Williams posts on Facebook:

R.I.P. to my top boss Jon Wolman, publisher of The Detroit News, who passed away today. My prayers to his wife and family .Jon was a great boss. He gave everyone a seat at the proverbial table. He believed in diversity and inclusion of his staff. His news judgment was spot on and was indicative of his years as a news reporter. You met with community members and had your finger on the pulse of key issues facing metro Detroiters .You were among the great bosses I’ve had in my career. You rewarded hard work and talent . Soar with the angels Jon. 

Former Detroit News reporter Darren Nichols writes on Facebook:

I’m just in shock of my former boss passing. You all have no idea all he did to support my career. A great guy. RIP.

Other coverage:

Jon Wolman gave journalism his all right till the end -- Nolan Finley column at The News

Read more:  The Detroit News

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Potd_img_8262_379 Abstract painted door on Saint Aubin Street and Gratiot Avenue, near Eastern Market.

By: Michael Lucido