state capital correspondent, The Detroit News
Charles “Charlie” Cain not only made an impact. He was an institution.
During a 39-year news career, Cain forged a reputation as a premier state capital correspondent who enjoyed the respect of state leaders, colleagues, competitors and legislators who were often on the receiving end of his stories.
His philosophy was: Get it right, get it first and make it fair and readable. His commitment to excellence inspired younger colleagues and made state government accessible and understandable to Detroit News readers. He was objective, honest and accurate.
He grew up in Detroit, the son of prominent Associated press reporters. While studying journalism at Michigan State University, he was the managing editor of the campus State News and worked summers for The Detroit News. He joined The News as a suburban reporter when he graduated in 1973.
After his award-winning coverage of the 1976 contract talks between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three carmakers, The News sent Cain to Lansing where he became a senior correspondent and State Capital Bureau Chief. He chronicled major controversies, political brawls on the floors of the House and Senate and the ups and downs of state power brokers.
He became one of the foremost experts on the modern history of state government. One of the most remarkable things about Cain was his uncanny memory. “He was the greatest repository of political and government history in this state. He never forgot a name or an event,” remembered a colleague.
Cain was recognized for his excellence in newswriting with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Michigan Society of Professional Journalists, the Wade H. McCree, Jr. Award from the State Bar of Michigan, the Associated Press Public Service Award and two United Press International awards, among others. Under Cain’s leadership, his staffers also won prestigious awards, including a Pulitzer Prize.
Cain left The News in 2009 and joined Truscott Rossman, a Lansing government-consulting firm, where he worked as a senior writer and editor. He died in July 2011.