reporter, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press
In his more than 30 years as a reporter in Detroit, David Ashenfelter has seen elected officials and powerbrokers come and go. During that time, he greatly influenced government practices through his thorough and relentless investigative reporting.
Ashenfelter came to Michigan in 1971 as a suburban reporter for The Detroit News. During 11 years at the News, he also worked as a city hall reporter, a political reporter, state capital bureau chief and assistant news editor. It was during his two years as assistant news editor-national desk that he teamed with Sydney Freedberg to win the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. They wrote a series of articles that exposed the U.S. Navy’s practice of covering up shipboard deaths. It was the first newswriting Pulitzer in the 100-year history of the paper.
For seven years after moving to the Detroit Free Press in 1982, Ashenfelter worked as an investigative reporter. He then served as wire editor, city hall projects reporter, assistant city editor of urban affairs, civil courts reporter and enterprise reporter. Through all of these jobs, he produced solid, award-winning journalism that led to changes in city and state government.
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Ashenfelter has won more than 50 other awards, including three Society of Professional Journalists National Distinguished Service Awards, three Public Service Medallions from the Detroit Press Club, three National Silver Gavel Awards from the American Bar Association and the National Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications. He has been honored an unprecedented nine times with the Wade McCree Advancement of Justice Award from the Michigan Bar Association for reporting on the legal profession. Free Press colleague David Crumm wrote of Ashenfelter, “He is no passing, faceless byline. He is one of our key pillars.”