Author Archives: Rick Epps

Hall of Fame pays tribute to three committee members

Two former chair-people of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame and one of the longest-serving committee members died since the April 2019 induction banquet. Their contribution will stand the test of time.

Jane Briggs Bunting
Jane Briggs-Bunting, champion of the 1st Amendment at Oakland University and Michigan State University as professor, then director of the journalism departments, started her career at the Detroit Free Press on the police beat and covered explosive stories like the disappearance of former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, and the mystery surrounding the Oakland County child killer. She was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in 2003.

She chaired the Hall of Fame and the journalism school at MSU from 2003 to 2009. She died in March 2021.
Jane was married to Robert Bunting. They lived on a 48-acre farm in northern Oakland County where they raised horses and rescued other animals. She wrote three children’s books, including “Llama on the Lam.”

Stan Soffin

Stan Soffin, the former director of the MSU School of Journalism and ombudsperson in the Office of the President at MSU died in July 2020 at his home in Grosse Pointe. He got a master’s degree in journalism in 1968 from MSU and earned a Ph.D. in 1974 in American studies, particularly the 1st Amendment. He moved up the professorial ranks and in 1982 became director of the J-school and held the job for 16 years.

Soffin stewarded the Knight Chair in Environmental Journalism, the Hispanics in Journalism Program and the Victims and the Media Program. He is best known for turning the Michigan Newspaper Hall of Fame, dormant since 1968, into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. He chaired the Hall of Fame committee for 13 years. And was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

Students called him the Ombuddy because he served as a student advocate navigating university bureaucracy from 1998 to retirement in 2012. He was preceded in death by his wife Maggie Miller. They had three daughters and four grandsons. Before his passage he set up the Stan Soffin Scholarship at the MSU School of Journalism.

Janet Mendler

Janet Mendler served over 20 years on the Hall of Fame. Even as technology allowed applicants to submit their materials by DropBox, she would print out every page and review each candidate with a keen eye for triumphs and possible questions. She was a steady voice of reason.

Janet had a BA degree from Northern Michigan University and a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Michigan. Over the years she taught journalism in the Livonia Public Schools, worked for the Marquette Mining Journal, The Dearborn Guide and the Ann Arbor News. She had a 20-year career at the University of Michigan News Service where she directed state media relations.

Upon retirement she rented a hobby office in Howell where she played an active role in the Michigan Press Association, the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association, and the Historical Society of Michigan.
Janet lived in Howell with her husband John Mendler. She died in April 2021.

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Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame to Induct Seven Members

EAST LANSING, Michigan — Seven outstanding journalists will be inducted into the 2021 class of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

This year’s inductees have made major, sustained contributions in print, broadcast and online media to news, sports, business, automotive and cultural journalism. They are:

Al Allen, a radio and TV reporter on the streets of Detroit for 50 years

Joanne C. Gerstner, multiplatform sportswriter, educator, scholar, mentor and author

Tom Henderson, reporter of sports, science and tech, venture capital and banking

Jean Jennings, 40-year automotive writer, editor and teller of hilarious tales

Edward Lapham, news-breaking auto editor, leader and mentor to many

Marjorie Sorge, premier auto and labor writer; editor of two auto publications

Susan Whitall, music magazine editor, music historian, columnist and author

The Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame was established to recognize those who have advanced the legacy of a free and responsible press and who have elevated journalism in Michigan.  Induction memorializes extraordinary and clearly outstanding careers.

The Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame committee has decided to plan for an in-person Hall of Fame induction ceremony in October 2021. The decision still hinges on whether the Kellogg Center will be booking events in the fall, but if it is, we’re hoping to schedule for either Oct. 10 or Oct. 17.

Details about reservations and opportunities for tax-deductible sponsorships and ads will be forthcoming.

Details will be provided on the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame website: . Questions may be directed to Betsy DeSantis at 517-353-6431 or email at [email protected] .

Meanwhile, the induction of the 2020 class – postponed from last April– will take place in a virtual event on April 25, 2021. The 2020 inductees include The Detroit News’ Baseball Hall of Fame Tigers writer Tom Gage, Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize writer Angelo Henderson, Detroit Jewish News Executive Editor and Publisher Arthur Horwitz, longtime Grand Rapids Press Editor Mike Lloyd, 40+ year television reporter, producer and news director Bill Proctor and Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker.

Co-sponsors of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame are the Michigan chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association; the Detroit chapter of the Association for Women in Communications; Central Michigan University’s Department of Journalism; the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists; the Detroit and Mid-Michigan chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists; the Detroit Press Club; the Individual Communicators Network; Wayne State University’s Journalism Program; the Michigan Association of Broadcasters; the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association; the Michigan Press Association Foundation; and the School of Journalism, Michigan State University.

MSU’s School of Journalism has been the home of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame since 1985, reprising the Michigan Newspaper Hall of Fame, which became dormant in 1968. The Michigan Press Association and the MSU School of Journalism established the original Michigan Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1952.

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Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame committee seeks nominations

Nominations are now being accepted for the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

Inductees to the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame must have established their professional reputations through Michigan journalism. Honorees will be inducted at a date and in a format to be determined.

Nominees are judged on their contributions to Michigan journalism, courage, innovation, leadership, impact and influence on the profession. They may be living or deceased. The deadline for nominations is Monday, January 11, 2021. Completed nomination packets must be received in the School of Journalism office, Michigan State University, 404 Wilson Rd., 305 Com Arts and Sciences Building, East Lansing, MI 48824-1212. They may be emailed to [email protected].

Nomination forms are available online by clicking this link.

The nomination packet must include the following:

  1. Statement describing the nominee’s professional journalism career and explaining why the nominee should be named to the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, citing examples according to the criteria on the website. Of particular interest to the committee are examples of how the nominee, as a journalist, has personally impacted and influenced journalism in Michigan.
  2. Support materials composed of 5 to 10 testimonial letters supporting the statement; the nominee’s resume; 5 to 10 examples of the nominee’s journalistic work; and other evidence of merit, such as anecdotes that address selection criteria, if desired.
  3. A 400 words essay summarizing the nominee’s journalism career.

A nomination must include clips, photos, video, audio, online or other samples, if at all possible, documenting a nominee’s work as a journalist and demonstrating impact in Michigan journalism. All materials remain the property of the Hall of Fame and become part of its historical record.

The Hall of Fame Committee is composed of representatives of the co-sponsors, which are non-profit journalism organizations in Michigan.

Nominations must be received by Monday, January 11, 2021.

Questions? Email [email protected].

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