Michael M. York

Michael M. "Mike" York is an American journalist and attorney. In the early 1980s, as the Washington correspondent for the Lexington Herald-Leader, he co-authored a series of exposes on improper cash payoffs to University of Kentucky basketball players which won him and his co-author, Jeffrey A. Marx, the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Michael M. York
Born (1953-04-10) April 10, 1953 (age 68)
High Point, North Carolina
OccupationAttorney, journalist
EducationB.A. journalism, University of Kentucky, 1974
J.D., University of North Carolina School of Law, 1978
GenreInvestigative journalism
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, 1986
SpouseRebecca Todd

Early life and educationEdit

Michael M. York was born on April 10, 1953, in High Point, North Carolina.[1] In 1974 he graduated from the University of Kentucky, where he majored in journalism, and four years later graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law.[2]


He wrote for the Durham Morning Herald and the Legal Times of Washington and served as an attorney for the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission before joining the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1979.[3] In 1981 he became the paper's Washington correspondent.[citation needed]

It was during this time that, along with Jeffrey A. Marx, he authored "Playing Above the Rules", a series of articles exposing improper cash payoffs to University of Kentucky basketball players and improper offers made to recruits by other universities.[4][5] The authors interviewed 33 former Wildcats – some of whom spoke to Marx and York with the goal of ending the abuses – and the paper sued the university and the state of Kentucky under freedom of information laws to get detailed information, including the names of specific violators, for the series.[6]

The initial reaction to the series was strongly negative: subscribers and advertisers boycotted the Herald-Leader, local media outlets heavily criticized the outlet and accused it of "sensationalism", and the authors received death threats.[7][8][6] However, the piece earned Marx and York the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, and led to NCAA regulation changes.[3][4]

York later became an investigative reporter for The Washington Post, where he broke news of the investigations of United States Representatives Dan Rostenkowski and Carroll Hubbard. He started his own legal practice in 1994.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

He is married to Rebecca Todd and has three children, Emily, James and Natalie.[1]


  1. ^ a b Brennan, Elizabeth A.; Clarage, Elizabeth C. (1999). Who's who of Pulitzer Prize Winners. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 357. ISBN 9781573561112.
  2. ^ "Pulitzer Prize Winners". School of Journalism and Media. University of Kentucky. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Winners of Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters and the Arts". The New York Times. 18 April 1986. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Jeffrey A. Marx and Michael M. York of Lexington (KY) Herald Leader". Prize Winners. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Background". Wehner & York, P.C. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Merritt, Davis (2005). Knightfall: Knight Ridder and How the Erosion of Newspaper Journalism Is Putting Democracy at Risk. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn. p. 162. ISBN 9780814428672.
  7. ^ Estep, Bill (June 14, 2015). "John Carroll, a 'truly great' editor who transformed the Herald-Leader, dies from rare disease". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  8. ^ Alan, Bisbort (2008). Media Scandals. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 135. ISBN 9780313347658. Retrieved 10 August 2017.