William E. Porter, professor emeritus of journalism, died April 21 at Hurley Hospital in Flint. He was 80.
Porter, whose retirement in 1989 signaled the end of an era of sorts for Michigan journalism, considered himself a writer and writing teacher first, a researcher and scholar second.
Well-known as a kind and gentle man who always had an interesting story to tell, Porter taught courses in mass media writing, the foreign press, and media and politics at Michigan for nearly three decades, beginning in 1962. During his tenure he also served as chair of the journalism department in 19661973, and chaired the communication department in the 1980s.
Prior to coming to Michigan, Porter taught at the University of Iowa for 18 years and worked as a full-time free-lance writer for the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, American, Country Gentleman, Cosmopolitan and Better Homes & Gardens. He also wrote the 1955 novel The Lawbringers.
A Fulbright lecturer in Rome in the early 1950s, Porter focused his academic research on Italian journalism and the relationship between government and the media. In 1976, he wrote the award-winning book Assault on the Media: The Nixon Years. Earlier he co-authored The Rest of the Elephant: Perspectives on the Mass Media with professor emeritus John D. Stevens.
Born Oct. 12, 1918, in Chetopa, Kan., Porter received a bachelors degree in English from the University of Kansas in 1939 and a masters degree in speech and drama from the University of Alabama in 1940.
He is survived by his wife Lois of Ann Arbor; son, James, of Chesapeake, Va.; daughter, Liza Trojan, of Saline; and six grandchildren.
Prepared by News and Information Services