Investigative Reporter, The Detroit News
Growing up walking picket lines with his father, Lou Mleczko carried a revolutionary spirit with him his entire journalistic career.
After graduating as the top journalism student in his class at Wayne State University, Mleczko began working as a reporter at the Akron Beacon Journal. He was one of the first on the scene of the Kent State University shooting in 1970.
After returning to Michigan, Mleczko spent 24 years at The Detroit News. He blew the whistle on corrupt public officials and costly, unsafe construction practices on major projects in metro Detroit. He covered contract talks between the Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers and the resulting 28-day strike that idled more than 170,000 workers nationwide.
He also wrote a weekly consumer column for the paper. His columns about scandalous automobile repairs led to statewide licensing of auto mechanics and repair shops.
Mleczko broke front-page stories about the premature deterioration of Detroit-area freeway bridges and pavement, which critics blamed on Michigan regulations that permit trucks to carry loads that are twice as heavy as federal standards alone.
These types of investigative stories, not only represented outstanding journalism, but also made Detroit a safer place to live and work.
In 1976, Mleczko was elected president of Guild Local 22, which represents Michigan newsroom employees. During a 38-year career as a leader of the Guild, Mleczko battled publishers to secure better wages, benefits and working conditions for hundreds of Michigan newsroom employees.