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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