Reporter, Detroit Free Press
During a wide-ranging and innovative career, Bill McGraw covered Coleman Young, Gordie Howe, Sparky Anderson, casinos, federal court and Canada. He drove every street in Detroit for a landmark news series, created two best-sellers about the city, initiated daily online blogging, founded Deadline Detroit and produced a website that pioneered coverage of the city’s forgotten history of human slavery.
McGraw was the first reporter to write about the staffing and equipment crisis in the Detroit Fire Department; nature reasserting itself in blighted neighborhoods; and, in the mid-1990s, the emergence of new ideas about the causes of Detroit’s long decline.
McGraw also chronicled trees growing on the roofs of Detroit’s abandoned tall buildings and the costs of demolishing the Poletown neighborhood for an auto plant.
A native Detroiter, McGraw worked for 37 years at the Free Press, where he served as a freelance writer, city desk reporter, sports writer, deputy metro editor, foreign correspondent, columnist and blogger. His writing also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Toronto Globe and Mail, Newsweek, the London-based History Workshop Journal, the Fifth Estate and Orbit. He founded the Droog Press and taught journalism at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Oakland University.
He conceived “The Detroit Almanac,” one of the biggest-selling local books in Detroit history, and “The Quotations of Mayor Coleman A. Young,” modeled after Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book.” Nearly 25 years later, “Quotations” is still in print.