John Bebow

Inducted 2024

John Bebow

founder, Bridge Michigan/The Center for Michigan

John Bebow has had ink in his blood since childhood. From delivering the Lansing State Journal on his Mason newspaper route as a seventh grader, to starring as an investigative reporter at both The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, to helping start M-Live, to his crowning achievement, founding Bridge Michigan and growing the nonprofit news industry into a viable and vital news source, John has played an instrumental role in Michigan journalism.

John grew up in Ingham County and graduated from Western Michigan University. He worked at the Lansing State Journal, Traverse City Record- Eagle and Ann Arbor News before accepting a reporting position at The Detroit News. There, he covered the mob, corruption in casino development and trouble in the city water department. He deployed to Iraq to report on Operation Desert Storm for the News in 2003, and was injured in a military truck crash. John helped manage M-Live in its infancy and, after a stint at the Chicago Tribune, he returned to his home state, where, for the Detroit Free Press, he helped investigate how students were being taken advantage of by Baker College.

In 2006, John took the most impactful risk of his professional life, launching the nonprofit “think and do” tank The Center for Michigan, where as CEO he was the driving force behind the 2011 creation of what is now the nonprofit, nonpartisan publication Bridge Michigan. Under his steady leadership, Bridge won hundreds of state and national awards (including multiple newspaper and news media outlet of the year awards from the Michigan Press Association), more than quadrupled its budget and grew a staff to more than two dozen. Perhaps most lasting in his legacy, he showed a new generation of entrepreneurial journalists how to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing news environment.

In 2023, John stepped back from his leadership duties at The Center for Michigan and Bridge Michigan. But even as John spends less time in the newsroom and more time knee-deep in the Au Sable, his imprint on Michigan journalism will continue for years to come.