watchdog reporter and editor
Described by his peers as a “journalist’s journalist,” Bill Thomas has worked tirelessly during his 44-year news career to bring what he describes as “public service journalism” to the communities he has covered.
Fueled by his commitment to good watchdog journalism, Thomas started his career as a reporter in 1967. His zeal for exposing wrongdoings and incompetence among powerful community leaders and institutions led to posts as editor for The Oakland Press in 1982, editor and publisher for The Macomb Daily in 1998 and editor for The Traverse City Record-Eagle in 2002. He retired in January 2012.
Everywhere he went, Thomas injected an enterprising spirit in the staff, increased the paper’s circulation and heightened the community’s confidence in a publication’s ability to hold community leaders accountable.
Because of Thomas’ tenacity to get to the truth, two sheriffs left office, a major advertiser and retailer paid a significant fine for illegal campaign finance contributions, a state senator left office and a local police chief resigned.
During his tenure, The Oakland Press covered the demise of First Federal Savings and Loan, exposing bad behavior among the bank’s owners. The result was a nasty libel suit, with the judge ruling in favor of the true stories.
Thomas’ commitment and respect for the craft of journalism resonated in his leadership roles and caught the attention of others who describe him as “the journalists’ journalist.”
During his 10 years as editor at the Record-Eagle, the paper won several state and national awards, including the Michigan Press Association’s Newspaper of the Year award for six of the past seven years.