Charlie LeDuff

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Charlie LeDuff
BornCharles Royal LeDuff
(1966-04-01) April 1, 1966 (age 52)
Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.
OccupationJournalist, author, handyman
ResidenceFerndale, Michigan, U.S.
NationalityUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Website
charlieleduff.com

Charles Royal LeDuff (born April 1, 1966) is an American journalist, writer, and media personality. Previously employed by The Detroit News, he left in October 2010 after two years and joined Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK Channel 2 to do on-air journalism.[1] LeDuff left Fox 2 Detroit on December 1, 2016. LeDuff has won a number of prestigious journalism awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, but has also faced accusations of plagiarism and distortion in his career.[2]

Biography[edit]

Charlie LeDuff was born in Portsmouth, Virginia.[3] He is one eighth Ojibway.[4] He discovered as an adult that his paternal grandfather was Creole (of African and French descent).[5]

LeDuff grew up in Westland, Michigan.[6] He attended Winston Churchill High School in Livonia, Michigan and the University of Michigan. At the University of Michigan, Leduff was a brother of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity.[7] His father served in the U.S. Navy. His parents' marriage ended in divorce. He has a deceased sister and stepbrother.[clarification needed] LeDuff has four surviving siblings. He has lived in many cities around the country and the world. Before joining The New York Times, LeDuff worked as a schoolteacher and carpenter in Michigan and a cannery hand in Alaska. He has also worked as a baker in Denmark.[citation needed]

LeDuff currently lives with his wife, Amy Kuzniar, and his daughter Claudette in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit. He considers himself a political independent, and is a practicing Roman Catholic. LeDuff is also a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa tribe of Michigan.[7]

Writing career[edit]

LeDuff's stated writing influences include the books Hop on Pop, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, Treasure Island, and writers Mickey Spillane, Raymond Carver, Joseph Mitchell, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, and Raymond Chandler.[3] Among writers in the newspaper business who influenced him, LeDuff lists Mike Royko, Jimmy Breslin, and Pete Hamill.

Journalism[edit]

After graduating from the Graduate School of Journalism at Berkeley, LeDuff was hired by The New York Times on a ten-week minority scholarship.[3] He was a staff reporter at The Times from 1995 to 2007, ending his tenure as a member of the Los Angeles bureau. LeDuff, who had been on paternity leave, quit The Times to pursue the promotion of his second book, US Guys, according to a memorandum from Suzanne Daley, the national editor. The next day LeDuff said his rationale for leaving was more complicated, noting that he made an appointment with Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher and chairman of The Times, to say he would be leaving because, "I can't write the things I want to say. I want to talk about race, I want to talk about class. I want to talk about the things we should be talking about."

Of his professional career in newspapers, LeDuff states:

I’m not a journalist, I’m a reporter. The difference between a reporter and a journalist is that a journalist can type without looking. The problem with journalism is its self-importance. Like in the New York Times, there’s style guides; you can’t call a doctor a physician, you got to call him a doctor- too high falutin’. You can’t call an undertaker a mortician- too high falutin’; you got to call him an undertaker. You can’t call a lawyer an attorney, you have to call him a lawyer. But somehow, since we control it, and we’re very self-important people, you can call a reporter a journalist.[3]

LeDuff is best known as a contributor to the 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times series "How Race Is Lived in America"; a ten part series including a piece by LeDuff called "At a Slaughterhouse Some Things Never Die".[8][9][10] In 1999 the Columbia University School of Journalism gave him its Mike Berger Award for distinguished writing about New York City.[11]

From August to November 2006, LeDuff wrote an eight-part series for the New York Times called American Album. The series was composed of articles and videos presenting "portraits of offbeat Americans".[12] The profiles included pieces about "a Latina from the rough side of Dallas" who "works the lobster shift at a Burger King," a Minuteman and an Alaska national guardsman believed to be the first Inuit, or Eskimo, killed because of the Iraq war. LeDuff has covered the war in Iraq, crossed the border with Mexican migrants, and chronicled a Brooklyn fire house in the aftermath of 9/11.

Controversy[edit]

LeDuff has been repeatedly accused of plagiarism and of reporting inaccuracies, to which he has responded.

A 1995 article for The East Bay Monthly was examined by Modern Luxury's San Francisco publication in a February 2004 article titled "Charlie Duff's Bay Area Secret" following suggestions that LeDuff had plagiarized elements of Ted Conover's book, Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails With America's Hoboes.[13]

A January 18, 2003 article for The New York Times entitled "As an American Armada Leaves San Diego, Tears Are the Rule of the Day" was accused of featuring inaccurate quotations and depictions of two of the ten subjects interviewed, according to an article published in September 2003 by Marvin Olasky in the evangelical WORLD magazine. According to Olasky, Lieutenant Commander Beidler, a subject profiled with his wife in the man-on-the-street piece, recalled saying something else to LeDuff and believed the quotes and depictions of himself and his wife used were inaccurate and fabricated by Mr. LeDuff.[14] According to Olasky, Times senior editor Bill Borders wrote to Mr. Beidler, saying that he had "thoroughly looked into your complaint" and concluding "[Mr. LeDuff] thinks that he accurately represented his interview with you and your wife, and therefore so do I."[14]

A December 8, 2003 article for The New York Times entitled "Los Angeles by Kayak: Vistas of Concrete Banks" was accused of drawing from Blake Gumprecht's 1999 book The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth. One week later, on December 15, 2003, The New York Times appended a clarification:[15]

An article last Monday about the Los Angeles River recounted its history and described the reporter's trip downriver in a kayak. In research for the article, the reporter consulted a 1999 book by Blake Gumprecht, "The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth." Several passages relating facts and lore about the river distilled passages from the book. Although the facts in those passages were confirmed independently—through other sources or the reporter's first hand observation—the article should have acknowledged the significant contribution of Mr. Gumprecht's research.

Editors' Note, December 15, 2003

LeDuff discussed various accusations made against his reporting in a March 11, 2008 interview with essayist Dan Schneider.[16]

To set the record straight… If you make mistakes, you apologize. When I was at grad school, I was working on a documentary and I was also contracted to write a long, six thousand word piece… I borrowed some thoughts from a guy’s book… Not incidents, none of that, sort of light stuff… I made a mistake as a student and I apologized for it.

Later on, at The New York Times, it was post-Jason Blair…like a witch hunt. Everybody wanted to get everybody that worked there and I wasn’t really accused of plagiarism, but what I did was did not attribute some facts that I distilled from a book about the Los Angeles River which I kayaked, and all this went round and round and all of a sudden I was a fraud, I was a cheat, I was a minority who didn’t do his work, who got a break because of his background and it isn’t true...

All I’ve ever tried to do in life is tell the truth, work hard, document the undocumented. I’ve crossed the border with Mexicans, man, I worked in a slaughterhouse, I do what it takes, I don’t cheat… My problem with the Right Wing and the Left Wing… is they got so many facts wrong… the journalistic sin is: you write something about somebody, you man up, and you call them. So the facts are wrong… A commissioned officer in the Navy accused me of misquoting him, I don’t think I did. If I did, I apologized about it. You write a thousand, two thousand stories, it’s gonna happen.

I don’t fake quotes, I don’t fake stories, I don’t fake anything, man. I work hard… This is how I get people to talk to me, because I don’t lie about who I am, I don’t hang around the edges, I don’t mischaracterize myself for the business at hand. I’m straightforward and I’m trying to be a standup guy.

Cosmoetica.com/dsi9.htm Dan Schneider Interview 9, Cosmoetica

In 2011, LeDuff was sued for defamation over a story he wrote in The Detroit News. A Detroit police officer alleged that LeDuff's stories asserted that she moonlighted as a stripper and danced at a never-proven party at the Detroit mayor's mansion. The officer denied both accusations.[17] The suit was ultimately dismissed.[18]

Other writings[edit]

LeDuff is the author of four books:

  • Sh*tshow!: The Country's Collapsing and the Ratings Are Great, 2018
  • Detroit: An American Autopsy, 2013
  • US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man, 2008
  • Work and Other Sins: Life in New York City and Thereabouts, 2005

Television career[edit]

LeDuff worked on an experimental project for The Times with the Discovery Channel and produced a show called Only in America, which featured participatory journalism where LeDuff played on a semi-professional football team, raced with thoroughbreds, performed in a gay rodeo, joined the circus, preached in Appalachia, joined the elite world of New York models and played one play on special teams for the af2 football club, the Amarillo Dusters.

On July 14, 2006, LeDuff starred in and narrated a documentary on the British channel, BBC Four, called United Gates of America in which he experienced life with the mainly white, Christian, and middle-class citizens of a gated community Canyon Lake in Riverside County, California.[19]

As of December 2, 2010, LeDuff is a reporter for WJBK, the Fox affiliate in Detroit, Michigan. In 2012, a YouTube video of his reporting on Meals on Wheels became one of the top links of all time on the social network Reddit.[20] His series The Americans, human interest stories about the changing American economy and culture, is syndicated to other Fox Television Stations Group stations for airing on their newscasts.[21]

On November 10, 2013, LeDuff was prominently featured on a Detroit focused episode of the CNN series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.[22] In February 2015, Vice News announced LeDuff would be a regular contributor.[23] On December 1, 2016 LeDuff announced that he would be leaving WJBK Fox 2 Detroit; he plans to stay in Michigan.[24] Since 2016, LeDuff has been an employee of American Coney Island diner, working as the restaurant's handyman, while writing a book on the side.[25]

On October 22, 2018, it was announce the LeDuff would return to broadcasting on WFDF (AM). It is rumored the he may host a show on WADL (TV).[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bill Shea (December 3, 2010). "Charlie LeDuff joins Detroit's Fox 2". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  2. ^ Rector, Kevin (April–May 2008). "From the New York Times To Motown". American Journalism Review.
  3. ^ a b c d The Dan Schneider Interview 9: Charlie LeDuff, Cosmoetica, 11 March 2008, accessed September 18, 2008.
  4. ^ Davidabrahamson.com Archived November 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Charlie LeDuff: My Detroit Story Part Three, Black Like Me" (Archive). My Fox Detroit. March 3, 2011.
  6. ^ Clemens, Paul. "Breakdown ‘Detroit: An American Autopsy,’ by Charlie LeDuff." The New York Times. February 22, 2013. Retrieved on July 12, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Charlie LeDuff on Detroit - The Detroit News, accessed January 30, 2009
  8. ^ Pulitzer Prize 2001 for National Reporting
  9. ^ LeDuff, Charlie (June 16, 2000). "At a Slaughterhouse, Some Things Never Die: Who Kills, Who Cuts, Who Bosses Can Depend on Race". The New York Times.
  10. ^ LeDuff, Charlie (2000). "Reporter's Journal: At a Slaughterhouse, Some Things Never Die". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Berger award winners Archived May 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Columbia School of Journalism
  12. ^ American Album New York Times website, retrieved Jan 25, 2015
  13. ^ Deadline Detroit
  14. ^ a b Marvin Olasky (September 13, 2003). "New York state of mind". WORLD. God's World Publications. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  15. ^ "Corrections". The New York Times. December 15, 2003.
  16. ^ Schneider, Dan (11 March 2008). "The Dan Schneider Interview 9: Charlie LeDuff". Cosmoetica. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  17. ^ Mlive.com
  18. ^ Freep.com
  19. ^ "United Gates of America". BBC Four.
  20. ^ "This guy is a reporter on Fox 2 here in Detroit. His name is Charlie LeDuff. He is fucking awesome". Reddit. May 25, 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  21. ^ Tvnewscheck.com
  22. ^ Eric Lacy (November 10, 2013). "Poll: Was Anthony Bourdain's Detroit coverage fair in CNN 'Parts Unknown' show?". CNN. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  23. ^ Poynter.org
  24. ^ Freep.com
  25. ^ Labash, Matt (17 May 2018). "A Little Bit of Real People". Weekly Standard. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  26. ^ "Charlie LeDuff back on the air in Detroit, this time on radio, with 'No BS' show". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2018-10-25.

External links[edit]