Wayne State picks Livengood as journalist of year

The Detroit News

Wayne State University’s Journalism Program named Detroit News Lansing reporter Chad Livengood its Journalist of the Year Thursday for his coverage of the Todd Courser-Cindy Gamrat legislative scandal.

Livengood reported in early August how audio recordings showed former state Rep. Courser, a Lapeer Republican, unsuccessfully tried to cover up an extramarital affair with ex-Rep. Gamrat, R-Plainwell, by trying to order an aide to send an email to constituents falsely claiming he had sex with a male prostitute behind a Lansing nightclub.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, ordered an investigation three hours after the Aug. 7 story was published online.

The House Business Office subsequently issued a report that uncovered evidence of misconduct and misuse of taxpayer resources by Courser and Gamrat in an effort to “cover up an affair” and boost their political profiles. Courser resigned in the early morning hours of Sept. 11 before he could be ousted, while Gamrat was expelled by her state House colleagues.

Wayne State University’s journalism program had an easy time selecting Livengood for this year’s honor, said Jack Lessenberry, area head of the university’s journalism program.

“Not only did we have Chad Livengood breaking perhaps state government’s biggest hard news story, he did so by using techniques as old as journalism itself — cultivating sources, wearing out shoe leather, diligently working his beat,” Lessenberry said.

“He stayed with the story after it broke in ways that reminded me of (Washington Post reporters Bob) Woodward and (Carl) Bernstein in 1972, doggedly looking for the next angle. ...

“He showed that the values and value of journalism are as important and necessary now as ever, and that Twitter and Facebook are no substitutes for professional journalism and hard work.”

Detroit News Editor and Publisher Jonathan Wolman welcomed Livengood’s honor.

“Chad is the consummate political reporter, with a keen instinct for the dynamics of good government and public service,” Wolman said.

Livengood received the award at a Thursday noontime luncheon on the university’s Detroit campus.