If the subject is economic development, architecture or Detroit’s revitalization efforts, few are more qualified to talk or write about those items than John Gallagher, the recently named senior business columnist of the Detroit Free Press.
Gallagher has spent the last 30 years serving the paper and providing its residents with his prolific reports about developments here, handling each with grace, depth and authority.
His early reporting helped shame Metro-area bankers to loosen their lending practices for people of color, chronicling the despair of middle-class families struggling to survive economic stagnation, while his more recent work was instrumental in the paper’s documentation of the rise and fall of a city government leading to Detroit’s historic municipal bankruptcy in 2013.
When the business writer/columnist is not feeding the pages of the Free Press, he has been turning out books, including five groundbreaking tomes establishing him as an expert on Detroit architecture, world-class architect Minoru Yamasaki and creative ideas for Detroit to climb out of its economic hole.
While Gallagher had lived and worked in several major cities in the early part of his career, it was a mid-career fellowship for business journalists at Columbia University where he studied economics, finance, labor issues, and law that spawned the seed that brought him to Detroit, where he has spent the past three decades treating readers to in-depth, highly readable stories in and about Detroit.
Gallagher was among the many Newspaper Guild members who in 1995 walked off the job in the Detroit newspaper strike. He spent two years walking picket lines and earning his strike pay writing movie reviews for the Detroit Sunday Journal and ghost-writing two books about a colorful Metro Detroit real estate broker.
Upon the settlement of the strike, Gallagher returned to the Free Press and resumed his business writing career. He became a negotiator in labor contract talks on behalf of the Newspaper Guild, where he now serves as president of Guild Local 22 and chairs the newspaper’s $90-million pension plan.