William Serrin

William Serrin

Inducted 2014

Investigative Reporter, Detroit Free Press/New York Times

William Serrin is known for writing innovative stories involving first-hand reporting where he can, in his words, “take the reader where the reader cannot go.”

He started as an intern in 1964 at Booth newspapers before moving full time to the Detroit Free Press in 1966. A year later, he was one of the first reporters on the scene of the Detroit riots and initiated a six-week investigation into The 43 Who Died, a key piece in a 1968 Pulitzer Prize for the reporting staff. Coverage of the Kent State University killings in 1970 resulted in his team receiving the George Polk Award. These stories brought the national implications of civil unrest to the doorsteps of thousands of readers.

Serrin also focused on working-class issues that resonated across the nation. He won a Sidney Hillman Award for labor reporting and an Alicia Patterson Fellowship for a study of American farm and food policy. His book, The Company and the Union, explored the GM strike in 1970.

He moved to The New York Times in 1979 as the first labor and workplace correspondent in American journalism. He left in 1986 to write Homestead: The Glory and Tragedy of An American Steel Town, listed by the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2013, as one of the “100 Books That Shaped Work in America.”

Serrin teaches journalism at New York University and has edited two books, The Business of Journalism (2000) and Muckraking! (2002).