Catalyst for newsrooms and news careers
Walter T. Middlebrook Jr.’s career embodies the best traditions of journalism. As a longtime editor at The Detroit News, he built a reputation for news judgment, fairness and integrity. As a newsroom leader, he guided coverage that earned not only numerous awards but improved the lives and well-being of the community.
Raised in a working-class neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee, Middlebrook went to MIT to study chemistry, but after a taste of journalism switched his academic focus and enrolled in Boston University.
After college, he worked at The New York Times and USA Today, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch, the Minneapolis Star, Newsday/New York Newsday and two stints at The Detroit News.
Middlebrook has been a champion of diversity with national recognition for identifying, recruiting and developing journalists, particularly people of color, women and others from populations historically underrepresented in newsrooms. His legacy as a mentor and a trainer include his work at the Maynard Institute, as a director of the Times Mirror METPRO/Editing program and as director of recruiting for The Detroit News and Newsday. Many journalists credit Middlebrook for early guidance and support.
Middlebrook, a former regional director of the National Association of Black Journalists and president of the Detroit chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, is a longtime member of the board of the Detroit-based Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation, providing scholarships to deserving students who otherwise may have been unable to afford college. He is a current member of the University of Michigan publications board.
Middlebrook earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2018, a Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University in 2015 and the Spirit of Diversity Award from Wayne State University in 2010.
Middlebrook, the Foster Professor of Practice at Penn State University, has also taught journalism at Hofstra and Michigan State universities.