November 2015 - Tennessee Press Association
Tennessee golfers come up aces
in 3rd annual Border War bout
From Your Presiding
Border War golf photos
Nominations sought for
Pumarlo: Editorial page
should spur discussion
spotted in school
Public Notice Contest
Boasting its biggest field yet in
its three years of existence, the annual TPA-KPA Foundation’s Border
War Golf Tournament crowned a
new champion as the Tennessee
Press Association defeated its
Kentucky counterpart to win the
The two-person scramble event
was held Sept. 17 at The Club at
Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin.
It was the first time the
Tennessee team prevailed in
the event, although that wasn’t
the only reason tournament
co-founder and co-director Bob
Atkins, was, as usual for him,
grinning ear to ear.
“We’ve gone from 60 players
the first year to 80 last year and
more than 120 this year,” Atkins
said, “and because of that we
netted about $27,000 that goes
for student scholarships and
internships in each state.
“Everybody was very complimentary of the golf course and
even the pace of play was very
good. It was a great day for golf
in all respects.”
This year’s Border War event
was dedicated to Hershel Lake,
former TPA president and the
long-time publisher of the Pulaski
Photo by Mike Towle, The Tennessee Press
Adam Yeomans (kneeling) of the Associated Press gets help lining up a
putt from playing partner Ralph Rupe in the 3rd Annual Border War Golf
Tournament Sept. 17 at the Club at Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin. Yeomans and Rupe were part of the TPA team that defeated its Kentucky rival
in the two-person scramble. See more Border War photos on pages 6-7.
Citizen, Giles Free Press and
Steve Lake, one of Hershel’s sons,
Cookeville Herald-Citizen, and
and joined by family members,
owner of the Carthage Courier,
accepted a bronzed replica of the
who passed away in December
tournament logo cap, presented by
2014. A large portrait of Lake was
TPA Foundation trustee emeritus,
on display at the tournament signJoe Albrecht, of Cookeville.
in area as well as at the post-event
“My dad would have been
buffet banquet held upstairs in
honored by all this, and the most
the Fairvue Plantation clubhouse.
important thing is that he loved
these people in the TPA,” Steve
Lake said. “It was all about the
relationships to him.
“As a newspaperman, he was
always looking out for the best
interests of the community. Newspapers have been a part of our life
for as long as I can remember.”
One of the more enthused
members of the winning Tennessee team was 72-year-old Gary
Beebe, a retired butcher from
California who has lived in the
Middle Tennessee area about five
years and who met Atkins over
coffee at a local McDonald’s.
Playing in a group that also
included his scramble partner,
82-year old Carl Fussell, Beebe
chipped in on one hole.
“Last year was my first year
playing in this and we played
a four-man scramble, but I like
the two-man scramble better. It’s
more competitive,” Beebe said.
“In the two-man format, you
have to bear down more and that
makes you play better.”
“Fairvue did a bang-up job
hosting this event. The course is
in wonderful shape, especially
for this late in the year, and the
staff really takes care of all the
golfers. You’ve got to go a far
piece to find a course as good as
this one, and (Atkins) does such
a wonderful job.”
2 weekly newspapers
Humboldt Chronicle, Oct. 5, 2015
The Mirror-Exchange newspaper has expanded its newspaper family, purchasing The
Chronicle in Humboldt and
The Tri-City Reporter in Dyer.
The historic acquisition
was officially completed in
early October when Mirror-Exchange owners Scarlet Elliott
and Victor Parkins signed
closing documents with AHP
(American Hometown Publishing) based out of Wisconsin.
The two weekly newspapers
were previously sold to AHP
in 2006 by then owner Frank
Warmath, of Humboldt.
Both newspapers will
remain staffed by the same
personnel, something Parkins
felt was very important.
“One of the most attractive
See PURCHASE Page 12
Photo by Danny Wade, Humboldt Chronicle
Milan’s weekly newspaper, The Mirror Exchange, recently acquired the
Humboldt Chronicle and the Tri-City Reporter. Meeting to seal the deal are
(from left) Chronicle Publisher and Editor April Jackson, Mirror-Exchange
owners Scarlet Elliott and Victor Parkins, and Tri-City Editor Cindy East.
Page 2 • The Tennessee Press • November 2015
Published monthly by the
TENNESSEE PRESS ASSOCIATION, INC.
625 Market Street, Suite 1100
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902
Telephone (865) 584-5761/Fax (865) 558-8687/www.tnpress.com
Subscriptions: $6 annually
Periodicals Postage Paid At Knoxville, TN
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Tennessee Press,
625 Market Street, Suite 1100, Knoxville, TN 37902.
The Tennessee Press is printed by The Standard Banner
in Jefferson City, Tenn.
Greg M. Sherrill ................................................................................................................................. Editor
Mike Towle.................................................................................................................. Managing Editor
Robyn Gentile .......................................................................................... Production Coordinator
The Tennessee Press
is printed on recycled paper
and is recyclable.
The Tennessee Press can be read on
OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE TENNESSEE PRESS ASSOCIATION
TENNESSEE PRESS ASSOCIATION
Jack McElroy, Knoxville News Sentinel ..................................................................................President
W.R. (Ron) Fryar, Cannon Courier, Woodbury ....................................................... Vice President
Eric Barnes, The Daily News, Memphis ....................................................................... Vice President
John Finney, Buffalo River Review, Linden ...........................................................................Treasurer
Greg M. Sherrill, Knoxville ...................................................................................... Executive Director
Keith Wilson, Kingsport Times-News ................................................................................... District 1
Carl Esposito, The Daily Times, Maryville ............................................................................ District 2
Chris Vass, Chattanooga Times Free Press ........................................................................... District 3
Scott Winfree, Carthage Courier ............................................................................................. District 4
William Mitchell, Shelbyville Times-Gazette ...................................................................... District 5
Richard Stevens, The Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville ............................................................... District 6
Keith Ponder, The Daily Herald, Columbia .......................................................................... District 7
Joe Hurd, The Courier, Savannah ............................................................................................. District 8
Scott Critchlow, Union City Daily Messenger ..................................................................... District 9
Daniel Richardson, Crockett County Times Alamo .......................................................District 10
Joel Washburn, The McKenzie Banner ...................................................Immediate Past President
TENNESSEE PRESS SERVICE
Victor Parkins, The Milan Mirror-Exchange ......................................................................President
Jana Thomasson, The Mountain Press, Sevierville ................................................. Vice President
Ralph C. Baldwin, Jones Media Inc., Greeneville ................................................................ Director
David Critchlow Jr., Union City Daily Messenger ............................................................... Director
W.R. (Ron) Fryar, Cannon Courier, Woodbury ................................................................... Director
Vacant .................................................................................................................................................. Director
Greg M. Sherrill ............................................................................................... Executive Vice President
TENNESSEE PRESS ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION
Gregg K. Jones, The Greeneville Sun .......................................................................................President
Victor Parkins, The Milan Mirror-Exchange ............................................................ Vice President
Richard L. Hollow, Knoxville ...................................................................................... General Counsel
Greg M. Sherrill ......................................................................................................... Secretary-Treasurer
CONTACT THE MANAGING EDITOR
TPAers with suggestions, questions or comments about items in The
Tennessee Press are welcome to contact the managing editor. Call Mike
Towle, (615) 293-5771; send a note to 117 Township Court,
Hendersonville, TN 37075, or email [email protected] The deadline for
the December issue is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Citizen fees hearings elicit
definitive ‘NO” across state
The question was whether
local governments should be
allowed to charge citizens fees
to inspect public records. The
answer was a resounding “NO!”
at three public hearings in
September that took on the air
of a three-day open-government
The hearings Sept. 15-17
in Knoxville, Nashville and
Jackson were conducted by
the Office of the Open Records
Counsel as part of its interim
study of legislation introduced
last session by state Sen. Jim
Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and state
Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers
As the law now stands, records
custodians can charge for the
labor costs of gathering and preparing records for copying. But if
citizens just want to see records,
they can do so for free.
The Tennessee Association of
School Boards has pressed for
the legislation to change that. Its
argument is that the burden of
preparing records for inspection
is as great as for copying, and
government offices are being
bogged down by excessive records requests.
A wide range of citizens crowded
the hearings, forcing chairs to be
added and, at one of the hearings,
requiring that remarks be trimmed
to three minutes per speaker.
In Knoxville, 33 people rose to
speak, and only three advocated for allowing fees to inspect.
Even the spokesperson for Knox
County Public Schools opposed
the idea. Other opponents included journalists, bloggers, public
officials, students, environmentalists, lawyers, librarians, leaders of
non-profits and voters who rely
on open government.
Kevin and Laura Baigert drove
three hours from Sumner County
to attend because they were afraid
no one else would show up.
“It’s kind of inspiring to see
this many people here,” Baigert
said of the attendance estimated
at 80. “This is important.”
About 80 people packed the
Nashville hearing, too, with only
two of the 22 speakers supporting the idea of fees-to-inspect.
spanned the political spectrum,
noted Justin Jones, a student at
Fisk University who had advocated for Insure Tennessee. His
argument for openness echoed
that of Susan Curlee, an outspoken Williamson County conservative and school board member.
“If there’s nothing to hide, why
hide it?” she asked.
At the West Tennessee hearing,
more than 50 people crowded the
hearing room. All 13 who spoke
opposed the legislation. Among
them were Steve Coffman,
executive editor of The Jackson
Sun, who said, “Charging to
inspect public records would be
a dramatic step away from open
government, which is a foundational element of this country.
Open government is part of what
makes our country shine as a
beacon of freedom when compared to many other countries in
Although the hearings showed
overwhelming opposition to new
fees, the open records counsel,
Ann Butterworth, said she also
would be consulting written
comments, survey results and the
open records advisory committee
in developing her report to the
So far, 399 people have responded to a citizens survey and
253 have responded to a government entities survey, and there
is a sharp difference in views.
For instance, on the government
survey, 44 percent said they
believe fees for copying records
should be increased, while less
than 1 percent said fees should
be reduced. On the citizens
survey, 4 percent said fees to
copy should be increased, while
37 percent said they should be
I testified at the Knoxville
hearing on behalf of the Tennessee Press Association. Here’s
roughly what my three-minute
“The experience of our members
makes clear that some government bodies will use per-hour
labor charges deliberately to block
access to public records. Even if
blocking access is not the deliberate intent, the expense will have
that effect. Newspapers seeking
copies of records increasingly are
facing fees exceeding $1,000.
Recent examples include:
• A Morristown utility charging
$1,325 for copies of travel receipts.
• The Chattanooga Electric
Power Board charging $3,837 for
copies of advertising records.
• The City of Memphis charging
$110 per hour to produce copies of
“Under existing law, there is no
way to police charges for producing copies, which vary widely
across the state, and there are no
limits. A local government can
hire an outside lawyer at $250 per
hour to process a public records
request, as recently happened in
“These charges add up. In 2011,
the state estimated that charges
for inspection of records would
total $1.7 million a year. Much of
that cost would be borne by newspapers, whose role and responsibility it is to monitor the workings
“Supposedly, this is money that
would be saved by government.
But in fact, the opposite will
prove true. Watchdog journalism
provides an important check and
balance on government waste,
and without that public scrutiny,
more excesses will emerge.
“In recent years, public-records reporting by newspapers in
Tennessee uncovered numerous
instances of costly waste and
corruption. Examples from just
• Thousands of dollars in
unearned bonuses in the Knox
County trustee’s office,
• Hundreds of thousands of
dollars owed by Knoxville country
clubs that were illegally dodging
property taxes, and
• Millions of dollars in pension
payments to the young children,
and even grandchildren, of Knoxville city retirees.
“These reports prompted
government reforms that brought
savings to the taxpayers far
exceeding the costs of producing
“Adding hundreds of thousands
of dollars of additional expenses
to Tennessee’s newspapers will
certainly result in a reduction in
watchdog reporting. While some
government officials may welcome
relaxed scrutiny, thoughtful ones
will recognize that the ultimate
cost will be in increased corruption and waste.
“The Tennessee Press Association believes there are better ways
to reduce the burden of fulfilling
public records requests than by
Jack McElroy is the president of
the Tennessee Press Association and
editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel.
November 2015 • The Tennessee Press • Page 3
Brownsville Press debuts
in Haywood County
For those who have a Haywood
County mailing address, you may
have noticed something a little
different when you picked up your
The Brownsville Press, owned by
The Brownsville Publishing Company Inc., debuted a new weekly
newspaper for Brownsville and
The newspaper is owned by The
Brownsville Publishing Company
Inc. Carlton Veirs is the president
and Lyle Reid the vice-president.
FOR YOUR CALENDAR
Reid and Veirs are also principals
in Brownsville Radio (WNWS-AM/
WTBG-FM), News-Talk 101.5
(WNWS-FM), Mid-South Hunting
& Fishing News and other publications. Reid and Veirs published the
Brownsville States-Graphic from
1984 until 2000.
Brownsville native Emily Carpenter is the managing editor, and
Sue Geter is executive manager of
Melinda Posey, as assistant
professor of art at Union University,
will be responsible for the newspaper’s graphic design. Her artwork
and design has been featured
nationally and locally with clients
that include Subaru, Polo, Wendy’s
Jonathan Pillow, another lifelong
Haywood Countian who covers
local news for Brownsville Radio
and point5digital.com, will also
write for the Press.
Administrative support for the
Brownsville Press will be provided
by Wireless Group Inc., which
is also owned by Reid and Veirs.
“Reporting local news has been the
heart and soul of our business for
nearly 40 years,” Veirs said. “Our
goal is to make the Press entertaining and informative — keeping our
community well informed.”
Oct. 8, 2015
The Jackson Sun
changes for classified
The Memphis Commercial Appeal in a recent letter to readers
and advertisers announced it was
implementing a series of changes
See NEWS Page 4
Oct. 7, 2015
Gannett, the publishing company that owns The Tennessean,
announced in October that it has
agreed to purchase Journal Media Group, which includes The
Commercial Appeal in Memphis
and the Knoxville News Sentinel,
for about $280 million.
This acquisition will mean
Gannett will own the major
news organizations in three
of the four largest cities in
The purchase by Gannett,
which also owns USA Today and
media businesses in 91 other
local markets, follows through
on its strategy of acquiring additional local news outlets after
it was spun off from its former
parent in June.
Shareholders of Milwaukee-based Journal Media Group
will receive $12 a share in cash.
That is a 45 percent premium
from the Wednesday closing
price of $8.30.
In addition to its Tennessee
media businesses in Memphis
and Knoxville, Journal Media
Group owns the 178-year old
See GANNETT Page 4
16-18: The InDesign and The
26-27: TPA/TPS Offices closed for
25: TPA/TPS Offices closed for
31: Deadline for 2015 Headliner
of the Year Nominations
31: Deadline for Public Notice
17-23: TPA Public Notice Week
21: APME NewsTrain,
27-28: TPA Winter Convention,
Millennium Maxwell House
Jan. 31 - Feb. 2: SNPA Carmage
Walls Leadership Forum, The
Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, N.C.
19: Deadline State Press
Contests 2015 entries
19: Deadline Ideas Contest 2015
13-19: Sunshine Week
15: Deadline TPAF Grant Requests
17-20: NAA mediaXchange,
Marriott Marquis, Washington,
2: Deadline 50-Year Club
TBA: TPA Summer Convention,
15: 4th Annual TPAF/KJF
Border War Golf Tournament
2-8: National Newspaper Week
Page 4 • The Tennessee Press • November 2015
Success means adaptation to laws of ‘Spokespersonland’
(If you want to argue that there
is no such word as “Spokespersonland,” all I can say is, “Oh, were
it only so.”)
Recently, I got an emailed
with information on the awarding
of a grant to a government in my
coverage area. At the top were the
words, “For additional information, contact So-and-so,” with her
phone number and email address.
I called and emailed.
I called and emailed a second
This time, I got an answer by
email: So-and-so politely informed
me that I needed to talk to the
department’s public affairs office.
Um, OK, but I had a document
that said if I wanted more information, I should call So-and-so at
such-and-such number, so why
did I have to …?
What’s the use? In Spokespersonland, arguing logic is about as
effective as spitting on a house fire.
So I groped around Googleland
for a phone number for the office
of public affairs. I called and
got voicemail. Remember, I was
calling the federal government,
a public affairs office of that
GANNETT, from Page 3
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12
other daily newspapers, 18 weeklies and their affiliated websites
in 14 local markets in the U.S.
The deal is expected to close
in the first quarter of 2016. It was
approved by both companies’
boards of directors and is subject to
approval by Journal Media Group
Shares of Gannett closed at
$14.94, up almost 4 percent.
Gannett, based in McLean, Va.,
will finance the deal through
cash and borrowing under the
company’s $500 million revolving credit line.
“Gannett is excited to be
joining forces with an organization that is so respected by their
communities and industry,” said
Gannett CEO Robert Dickey.
“Just over 100 days ago we laid
out the importance of expanding
our local market footprint and
we are very pleased that our
acquisition strategy has kicked
off with such a highly regarded
“This transaction will allow
us to focus on creating quality
journalism for our communities while building substantial
value for our shareholders. We
welcome the employees of the
government agency. Wouldn’t it
make sense that someone would
answer the phone?
The voicemail concluded with
a promising option: A reporter
on deadline who sends an email
could expect a response.
So I sent one.
A day later, I got an email from
Whozis saying we could talk
sometime. I responded: Let’s do it.
We finally hooked up on
the phone on a Friday. I asked
a half-dozen questions and
got some OK info, but when I
pushed for more depth, Whozis
said I would have to talk to
I asked who “Someone Else”
was, and Whozis said he would
check and get back to me. I then
made the tactical mistake of saying, “I’ll be really busy today; can
Journal Media Group into the
Gannett family and look forward
to continuing to be an industry
After the deal, Gannett will
have a media outlets in 106 local
markets in the U.S. It will result
in “a combined digital audience
of more than 100 million unique
visitors a month,” it said. Its
print circulation will rise by
about 675,000 on weekdays and
950,000 on Sundays, it said.
Gannett’s media properties
in Tennessee also include The
Jackson Sun, The Leaf-Chronicle
in Clarksville, The Daily News
Journal in Murfreesboro, along
with The Dickson Herald, The
Ashland City Times, The Robertson County Times, The Gallatin
News Examiner, The Hendersonville Star News, The Fairview
Observer, Stewart Houston Times
In late June 2015, Gannett
was split from its former parent, now called Tegna. Gannett
is focusing on USA Today and
local markets, 10 of which are
currently in Wisconsin. Tegna, whose former name was
Gannett, sought the spinoff
to mainly focus on television
broadcasting and its digital
businesses, Cars.com and
you have ‘Someone Else’ call me
Whozis sounded relieved,
knowing that if I could wait until
Monday, I surely could wait until
Tuesday or Wednesday.
On Wednesday, I got an email
from Someone Else. He wanted to
set up a time for us to talk. I told
him I was ready right then, but
we ended up talking a little later.
When we finally did talk, Someone Else informed me that for
answers to my questions, he had
to find an Expert in the Field.
When Expert in the Field and I
finally got together on the phone,
Someone Else was on the conference call, standard practice in
Spokespersonland. The interview
went well, but I had spent so
much time getting from So-andso to Expert in the Field, I didn’t
have time to write the story for
the Sunday edition.
Look, I know I can’t turn the
clock back to the 1980s, when I
may have needed three relatively
quick phone calls to find Expert
in the Field the same day I realized I needed more information
than was in the original press
release. But when the feds put
out a release saying I should call
NEWS, from Page 3
designed to improve its products
and services for its customers.
In the letter, the Commercial Appeal’s George Cogswell
said one of the improvements
involves the daily newspaper’s
classified section. Modifications
include aesthetic enhancements
that will make the classified section easier to read and peruse.
Large column formats, a new
font and better organization of the
classified categories are expected to
ensure that items and services will
be easy to find, making the classified experience a more enjoyable
process for readers and customers.
So-and-so for more information,
the folks whose salaries I (involuntarily) pay should either be
able to answer my questions or to
steer me directly and expeditiously to Expert in the Field.
But I do understand that the
world we live in demands that we
not surrender in the face of frustrations or illogic or slow play.
So I advocate only one action: Be
Instead of being flummoxed by
the hassles, consider the required
three, four or more phone calls,
emails, etc., one long, occasionally interrupted interview.
We’ve all had the source who is
willing to talk, but not willing to
reveal anything of substance. So
we go at him or her with different
approaches: first friendly conversation, then subtle persuasion,
then sideways probing, and finally, a frontal confrontation. The
result is the equivalent of three or
four different interviews to arrive
at the desired result.
In Spokespersonland, when we
have to make three, four or more
calls, and those calls (and/or
emails) are spread among several
hours or even days, the result is
the same: success.
The calls and emails leave
time gaps, but unless we show
the spokespeople that we’re not
going to give up – just as we
show that evasive source we’re
not ending the interview until
we get a meaningful response
– we’re going to end up unsatisfied.
is just a different world from the
one we prefer. And when we
show we can adapt to the laws of
this new land, we give ourselves
the best chance to win.
THE FINAL WORD: The writer
described an event as “the premiere calf-roping competition in
Well, “premiere,” in that
context, refers to the first, the
original, the inaugural.
The word the writer wanted
was “premier,” related to “premiere,” but with a different meaning: “first in importance or rank;
The section has been renamed
Commercial Appeal Localfieds.
Obituaries will be in a two-column block format for family and
friends to clip, save and share with
loved ones. Other changes include
modifications to billing statements/
invoices, which are now less complicated and easier to review.
Sept. 30, 2015
The Commercial Appeal
its daily print newspaper to a
12-inch sheet. In making this
conversion, the Times-News is
conforming to newspaper industry standards across the country
and presenting what it calls a
more modern format.
“We are pleased to be marking
another milestone in the almost
100-year history of the TimesNews,” company officials said in a
letter sent to advertisers. “We will
not be eliminating any content because of this conversion; rather, we
will continue our efforts to be the
best source of news and marketplace information in our region.”
Oct. 5, 2015
Johnson City Press
adjusts sheet size of daily
The Johnson City Press and
the Kingsport Times-News
announced in October an
adjustment of the sheet size of
Jim Stasiowski, a managing
editor of the Rapid City Journal,
welcomes your questions or comments. Call him at (605) 716-0981
or write to 1122 City Springs
Road, Rapid City, S.D., 57702.
We want your news
for The Tennessee Press!
Please email your news items
about personnel changes or
activities at your newspaper to:
[email protected] or
November 2015 • The Tennessee Press • Page 5
Williams named business
editor of News-Sentinel
As the new business editor
of the Knoxville News-Sentinel,
G. Chambers Williams directs
the News-Sentinel’s newsroom’s business
writers and has
for the daily
Business sections as well
as the business
content of the
“Chambers is a veteran journalist who brings a wealth of
business experience to the position,” editor Jack McElroy said.
“We’re excited to have him take
on this new role.”
Before joining the News
Sentinel in March as assistant
business editor, Williams was
editor of the LaFollette Press.
Before that, he was a business
writer for The Tennessean in
Nashville from 2008-2014.
Before joining The Tennessean, Williams was a business
writer and automotive columnist for the San Antonio
writer and automotive columnist for the Fort Worth
business writer for The Orange
County Register, Santa Ana,
Calif.; editor of the Phoenix
Business Journal; copy editor
for the Charlotte Observer; and
managing editor of the Bristol
(Va.-Tenn.) Herald Courier.
Amy Nolan, who had served
as executive business editor,
will resume her previous position as editor and publisher of
the Greater Knoxville Business
July 20, 2015
George Coleman in September
was named interim publisher
which is the
owner of The
Lebanon Democrat, Mt. Juliet
News and Hartsville Vidette.
Coleman Coleman most
as publisher of
the Herald and Tribune in Jonesborough and advertising director
at the Kingsport Times-News. He
replaces Jesse Lindsey, who left to
pursue other opportunities.
Sept. 10, 2015
Lebanon Publishing Co.
Hay assumes GM duties
with Jackson Sun
Frank Hay II has been named
named general manager/director
of sales for The Jackson Sun by
Laura Hollingsworth, president
and publisher of TN Media and
president of Gannett’s Central
“We are very
pleased to have
Frank Hay join
the Jackson Sun
Media team in
role,” Hollingsworth said.
Hay very strong
leadership to the Sun and is sure
to be a strong community leader
addition for Jackson.
“He also brings great ideas and
energy for our team and exceptional experience to help all our
local businesses with growth and
Hay, 57, said he is eager to
return to Jackson.
“I am impressed with the
growth and vitality that has
occurred within the community,”
Hay said. “I look forward to being
an integral part of the business
community and to continue the
long-standing leadership tradition
of The Jackson Sun.
Hay most recently worked as
the director of corporate markets for Money Mailer in Garden
Grove, California. Prior to that, he
worked as director of digital sales,
director of network key accounts
and regional vice president of
sales for Cox Media Group/Valpak in Largo, Florida.
Previous positions have in-
Save the dates!
TPA Winter Convention
cluded Sales Force automation
project manager-training lead for
Verizon Information Services in
Dallas and division sales manager
for Media General-The Tampa
Hay replaces Roy Heatherly as
the top executive at The Jackson
Sun. Heatherly left in July to be
publisher of The Wichita Eagle in
Oct. 7, 2015
The Jackson Sun
Jones retires from
Danny Jones, general manager
of The Gazette, Trenton, officially
retired Aug. 31.
He began working at The
Milan Exchange in 1961 as an
apprentice “printer’s devil,”
filling press fountains with ink,
stereotyping, advancing to linotype machine operator before
and makeup of
merger of The
Mirror in Milan,
Jones spent four
years as editor of The Humboldt
Courier Chronicle before taking
the helm of The Herald Gazette
in June of 1983.
In 2014, Jones stepped down as
editor, but continued to serve as
He is one of 15 individuals who
were inducted into TPA’s 50-Year
Club earlier this year.
NAA selects Chavern as
The Newspaper Association of
America has announced that its
board of directors has selected
David Chavern, a seasoned public
policy and advocacy leader,
as its new president and CEO.
Chavern succeeds Caroline H.
Little, who led
for four years
earlier in 2015.
In his new role
at NAA, Chavern
Chavern will work closely
members and staff to navigate the
organization through a continued
period of significant opportunity for newspaper media. With
changing the ways in which
people consume the news, he will
provide strong, strategic direction
to ensure the future the success of
“I am honored to join the
Newspaper Association of America in a time of great change and
great opportunity for the newspaper industry,” said Chavern.
“Newspapers play such a vital
role in all of our lives, and I am
excited for what is to come.”
Oct. 1, 2015
Page 6 • The Tennessee Press • November 2015
Tennessee triumphs in
Photos by Mike Towle of The Tennessee Press unless otherwise indicated
Jen Foley (seated on left, waving) and Larry Hensley (driving cart) head
out in the convoy of golf carts at the start of the Border War Golf
Tournament held Sept. 17 at The Club of Fairvue Plantation, in Gallatin.
“Gentlemen and ladies, start your golf carts!” Golfers line up in preparation for the ‘shotgun’ start, with more
than 100 golfers competing in the Third Annual Border War Golf Tournament, held Sept. 17 at The Club at
Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin.
Ralph Rupe, The Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville, looks for
the best line for his putt. Rupe and his two-man scramble partner Adam Yeomans, The Associated Press, were
part of the victorious Tennessee team.
Photo by Phil Stauder
Richard Hudson, from Simmons Bank, finesses a
chip shot during the third annual edition of the
Border War Golf Tournament. Hudson was one of
more than 120 golfers who participated.
Richard Stevens, of The Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville, tends the flagstick while others in his foursome get ready to putt.
Pictured left: Teresa Revlett, director of sales for the
KPA, and TPA Executive Director Greg M. Sherrill enjoy
a clubhouse chat during the golf tournament.
November 2015 • The Tennessee Press • Page 7
2015 ‘Border War’ Golf
Photo by Phil Stauder
Bob Atkins, Tennessee tournament chairman, and David
Thompson, KPA executive director, flank a photo of
the late Hershel Lake. The 2015 Border War was held in
Dale Long, Artie Wehenkel, Richard Southerland and Steve
Harbison of The Greeneville Sun.
Far left: Long putter in hand, Paul
Burgess , Simmons Bank, eyes putt.
Middle left: Todd Schorsten, Volunteer State Bank, hits tee shot.
Frank Sears follows the flight of his fairway approach
shot during the early stages of the Sept. 17 Border
War Golf Tournament.
Immediate left: Buddy Pearson,
Cookeville Herald-Citizen; and
Josh Bell and David Critchlow,
Union City Daily Messenger.
Last photo by Phil Stauder
Save the dates for the 2016 TPA Winter Convention • January 27-28 • Nashville
Page 8 • The Tennessee Press • November 2015
Things that you’ll never hear me say in any newsroom
Throughout my career as a
consultant, I’ve heard managers, editors—yes, even designers—say things that disappoint
I made up my mind many
years ago to avoid saying those
things—and I hope that you’ll
put them on your list of things
you’ll never say.
Here they are:
“Let’s play with the design.”
Nope. Design isn’t play.
It’s hard work. If you’re not
ready to do that hard work,
then you’re not ready to be a
“We have color on every page
now. Let’s use as much color as
No, let’s not. Many things
are still said better in black and
“We’re in the business of
No we’re not. We are in the
business of bringing meaning to
“There are no rules.”
Oh, yes there are. Lots of
them. And you’d better know
what they are before you can
even begin to think you’re ready
to break them.
“Times is a good typeface for
No. It’s not.
“It’s OK to write long stories.
Readers will take the time to
No. They. Won’t. More now
than ever, readers want their
information in smaller pieces.
They will take the time for a
longer story—if you take the
time to break it into shorter
“It’s OK to make the text just
a bit smaller on this story. It’s
a good piece and we have to fit
Never. Edit …edit…edit. The
story has not been written that
can’t be cut.
“Let’s jazz it up.”
Design is not about “jazz.”
It’s about organizing content
and giving that content quality
“Readers want more stories,
not more photos.”
Oh, yeah? Then why is it that
research shows time and again
that the first thing readers look
at on a page is the photo (or
“Body text should be set justified.”
Sez who? More and more
newspapers (and other publications) use flush left text. Most
readers don’t notice—and those
who do, don’t care.
“It’s OK to miss deadline.”
No. It’s not. Ever.
Want a free evaluation of your
newspaper’s design? Just contact Ed:
[email protected] |
If this column has been
helpful, you may be interested in Ed’s books: Henninger
on Design and 101 Henninger
Helpful Hints. With the help of
Ed’s books, you’ll immediately
have a better idea how to design
for your readers. Find out more
about Henninger on Design and
101 Henninger Helpful Hints
by visiting Ed’s web site: www.
Ed Henninger is an independent
newspaper consultant and the Director of Henninger Consulting. On the
Tailored to sell has basis in keen observation skills
Have you fallen into an
order-taking rut? Are you passively relying on your accounts
to tell you what and when to
advertise? Are you following
their creative directions like a
police artist (“Make the hair
longer, make the ears bigger.”)?
Are you keeping up with events
in their industries? Do you
know which products are selling? Do you know what offers
have worked in the past? What
about seasonal merchandise?
Should they consider featuring
those products in a separate ad
or a bigger ad?
There’s no excuse for being
in a rut. If we look, we’ll fi nd
plenty of opportunities.
We can learn a lot about selling
by studying other sales people.
Each time someone tries to sell
us something, we see the good
and the bad come to life – from a
consumer’s point of view.
I remember a trip to a clothing store to buy a new suit. I
had shopped there before and
knew I would have no trouble
fi nding what I wanted. I was a
hot prospect, ready to buy.
When I arrived, all the sales
people were huddled around
the front desk, talking and tell-
ing jokes. Expecting someone
to follow me, I walked directly
to the suit section and found
my size. I glanced at the front
of the store and realized that
– even though I was the only
customer in the store – no one
had noticed me.
I picked out a suit and tried on
the jacket. It looked like a good
possibility, so I took the trousers
into the dressing room, rolled up
the legs and put them on. Then I
put the jacket back on and stood
in front of the mirror. With a few
standard alterations, the suit was
just what I wanted.
Another glance to the front
revealed no signs of life. So,
having made a buying decision,
I found the alteration department and asked for the tailor.
It’s ad time in Tennessee!
That’s right folks – it’s Network
ad time in Tennessee! It’s time
to strap on the helmet, run the
extra mile, and get to a bowl
game this year. We’re talking
the Network Bowl. The Network
Bowl hosts TnSCAN (classified
line ads), TnDAN (small display
ads), TnQPN (quarter page ads),
and TnNET (online banner ads).
What does it take to get to the
Network bowl? Not six wins this
season. It takes knowing the playbook (aka the Network ads) and
running your route - recognizing
an opportunity to upsell the Network ads to your existing clients.
TPS is here to assist with your
learning the playbook. Sales
materials are readily available to
download. Refresh training courses can be arranged. The refresh
sessions can be in-depth or a
three-minute phone call. For your
copy of the playbook, contact TPS
Director of Advertising, David
Wells, at [email protected] or
Beth at [email protected]
Once you become knowledgeable
about the Networks, it’s time to
run your routes. Remember to
tell your clients about the amazing coverage and prices. Even if
your client might not be ready to
expand their coverage area, they
may have the need down the road.
There are no losers in the
Network Bowl. Everyone wins!
Your newspaper wins by keeping a great commission on each
ad. You can win by bringing in
a new source of revenue for your
newspaper and being entered
into the monthly drawing for
$50. Your client wins by having
one person – their local newspaper rep – to get their ad in
multiple newspapers across the
state and even across the nation.
Promote the Networks and
There I was – standing at
the mirror, pants rolled up 12
inches, coat sleeves reaching my
knuckles, price tags hanging
from the sleeves, tailor on the
way with pins and chalk. Then
a salesperson walked up and
said, “Can I help you?” (No kidding, that’s what he said.)
“What a relief,” I thought. I
was afraid I was going to have
to write up the sale myself. (I
wonder if they would have paid
me a commission.)
In spite of the inattention, I
did buy the suit. But that’s all
I bought. The store was staffed
with poor observers. In addition
to taking ten minutes to recognize a customer, my sales person
missed a chance to sell a couple
of shirts and ties to go with my
new suit. If he had been good
at his job – if he had been more
than an order taker – perhaps he
could have sold another suit, as
well. He made a sale and lost a
sale at the same time.
Months later, I walked through
that shopping mall again. The
store was no longer there.
(c) Copyright 2015 by John
Foust. All rights reserved.
John Foust has conducted
training programs for thousands
of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments
are using his training videos to
save time and get quick results
from in-house training. E-mail
Nominations sought for 2015
TPA Headliner of Year award
TPA Member Services Manager
Nominations are being sought
for the third annual Tennessee
Press Association Headliner of
the Year Award.
The Headliner of the Year
was established to recognize
the person or group that has
generated the most positive
press within the state over the
course of the year. The inaugural award for 2013 was presented to UT Vols Head Football
Coach Butch Jones, and the
2014 award to Dolly Parton for
her Imagination Library.
Publishers and editors
of member newspapers are
encouraged to submit nominations. The Board of Directors
will make the fi nal selection in
The award will be presented
at the 2016 Summer Convention
The deadline for submitting
nominations for the annual
award is Thursday, Dec. 31.
The nomination form can be
found at tnpress.com, or one
can contact TPA at (865) 5845761 to have one sent to you.
Nominations can be returned
by mail, fax or email.
November 2015 • The Tennessee Press • Page 9
Editorial page intended to spur discussion
Why would a Minnesota community newspaper reprint editorials from out-of-state newspapers,
even a letter from a Texas resident
– especially on a topic that likely
could draw sharp response from
The question was raised
more than once during my
tenure as editor at Red Wing,
Minn. Our coverage on the
news and editorial pages was
placed under extra scrutiny
many years ago when the Minnesota Legislature was debating whether to allow on-site,
above-ground storage of radioactive spent fuel at the local
nuclear power plant. Commentaries from authors outside our
readership area added to an already lively exchange of local
opinions in an emotion-filled
debate that sharply divided our
community and state.
To add to the mix, we took
an aggressive editorial stance
in favor of the storage. That
was especially disconcerting
to the Native American reservation that bordered the plant
site and vigorously opposed
the storage. The Legislature
eventually approved the utility’s plan.
Make no mistake, however,
the decision to broaden the
scope of commentary on this
issue had nothing to do whether
we advocated or opposed the
storage of nuclear waste. It had
everything to do with presenting a diverse range of opinions
from recognized experts whose
opinions, we believed, enriched
Op-eds can be a valuable
addition to enhancing the
dialogue on editorial pages.
There admittedly is a great deal
of subjectivity in selection of
materials, but some general criteria should guide the process.
Relevance: Is the topic of local
interest? For example, we often
reprinted editorials or other
commentaries about the vitality
of downtowns or the statewide
dynamics of rural and urban
Contrary opinion: Does the
commentary represent a perspective that might not be regularly
presented in a newspaper’s
editorials? Given our strong editorial bent in support of nuclear
power, we frequently presented
the contrary viewpoint – maybe
to a fault.
Strength of argument: Does
the writer do a good job of
stating the facts, then drawing a
conclusion? Commentaries lacking substance, or simply poorly
written, are often best sent to
the recycling bin.
Variety: Does the editorial
address a topic not regularly discussed on the editorial page? An
off-beat commentary may be just
the ingredient to spur new voices
and fresh opinions on an otherwise predictable, if not stagnant,
Editors have a variety of sources to seek a mix of opinions. The
web makes it easy to scan other
newspapers. Trade associations,
think tanks and other advocacy
organizations regularly circulate
commentaries. A word of caution,
though, when surfing the web.
Do your homework; make sure
the commentary is authentic
and original. Verify the author’s
Editors must be careful to not
reprint only those commentaries
that align with a newspaper’s
perspective. Doing so would
make for a very stale page, and
it would be a disservice to readers by not affording an opportunity for all sides of an issue to
In similar respect, newspapers must take care to ensure
that their editorial stances do
not taint news coverage. Our
newsroom constantly evaluated our coverage of the nuclear
So how did we perform in the
eyes of those who counted most
– our readers? One answer was
provided by two letters that arrived the same day. One reader
complained that we showed our
pro-nuclear bias in our news
reports; the other said we were
giving the anti-nuclear activists
too much attention. On this
day, at least, we concluded our
reports were striking the proper
We also remained committed
to promoting an active exchange of opinions. In the end,
a lively editorial page is at the
heart of a dynamic community.
The page serves its role best
when it energizes citizens to
debate a variety of issues at the
foundation of a healthy community.
Jim Pumarlo writes, speaks and
provides training on community
newsroom success strategies. He is
author of “Journalism Primer: A
Guide to Community News Coverage,” “Votes and Quotes: A Guide
to Outstanding Election Coverage” and “Bad News and Good
Judgment: A Guide to Reporting
on Sensitive Issues in Small-Town
Newspapers.” He can be reached
at www.pumarlo.com and welcomes comments and questions at
Amy Sue (Dodson) Hale
Amy Sue (Dodson) Hale, 78, died unexpectedly Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 at her
home in Pikeville.
She was a member of Pikeville United
Methodist Church. Amy was a 1955 graduate of Van Buren County High School in
Amy owned Valley Publishing Company
Inc., and was the publisher of The Bledsonian-Banner, The Dunlap Tribune, and the
Sequatchie Valley Shopper.
She and her late husband
purchased the two newspapers on June 1, 1962.
She was among an elite
group a newspaper owners
who have had more than
50 years in the business,
and she was a member of
the Tennessee Press AssoHale
ciation for many years.
She wrote a much-loved weekly column for the newspapers known as Amy’s
Kitchen Korner. Amy loved to cook but she
loved her cat, Goldie, more.
Preceding her in death were her husband, Robert Walter Hale; her parents
Hattie and Robert Ernest Dodson, Sr.;
brother, Robert Ernest Dodson, Jr. and his
wife Dana Dodson.
Survivors include her nephew Wade
(Sandy) Dodson of Pikeville; niece Dr.
Deanna Dodson of Cleona, Pennsylvania;
and other nephews and nieces; great-nieces Samantha (David) Layne of Lebanon,
Emily Dodson of Pikeville, Mandi Young
of Georgia; great-nephews Andy Casey
and Robby Casey of Cleona, Pennsylvania;
and other great-nieces and great-nephews;
great-great-nephew Gentry Robert Layne
and Hope Young, and others; sister-in-laws
Dorothy Bayless, and Nina (Johnny) Nale,
all of Pikeville; brother-in-law Herbert L.
(Sharon) Hale, Caseyville, Illinois; longtime
friend and neighbor, Senia (Rick) Anderson;
and a host of other family and friends.
Services were to be held Oct. 2 in the
funeral home chapel with Bro. Albert Roberts officiating. Burial followed in Pikeville
Cemetery. Visitation was to be Oct. 1.
The family requests memorial contributions be made to First Southern Baptist
Emergency Food Pantry, P. O. Box 338
Pikeville, TN 37367.
Online condolences can be made at
Arrangements were made by Putnam-Reed Funeral Home in Pikeville.
Sept. 29, 2015
The Bledsonian Banner
Clarence Franklin Scaife
The first black reporter at The Chattanooga Times — Clarence Franklin “Sweet Daddy” Scaife — died Sept. 25, 2015 at age 79.
He started at the newspaper in 1968, a
critical time in the civil rights era, but he
was never just relegated to covering the
Chattanooga Times former managing ed-
itor John Popham, who hired Scaife, wrote
a letter of recommendation for him that
talked about his tenure at the Times.
“Clarence was the first black reporter
to be hired full-time by The Chattanooga
Times back in the early
days of school desegregation. At that time, most
were caught in conflicts
of emotion and the role
of a black reporter was
without precedent,” the
late Popham wrote. “We
Scaife refused to see him as
a black reporter to be
assigned to reporting on the black community. Instead, we assigned him to any and
all news events, including police news,
where the tensions and stereotypes were at
a cutting edge of violence.”
Scaife’s well-rounded skills won him
praise in other quarters, as well. He was
assigned to cover the regular meetings of
the Jaycees, “a group of business-oriented young men anxious to burnish their
careers in public and take up leadership
roles in the future,” Popham wrote.
“Within one year, Clarence was the finest
police reporters in the city, trusted and
respected by the police, and the Jaycees
asked that we keep Clarence permanently
on their schedule since his news articles
were so accurate and intelligently interpretative.
Oct. 1, 2015
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Janie Siwinski, age 56, of Jacksboro, passed
away Sept. 11, 2015. Janie was a member of
Grace Missionary Baptist Church in LaFollette.
She was a prior member
of Pleasant Grove Baptist
Church. She loved God by
serving him as organ player at her church for many
years. She was a LMU
graduate with a bachelor
of science degree and was
For the past 13 years,
Janie and her husband Michael were co-publishers of
the local newspaper Christian Journal Leader
and was awarded best community newspaper
publisher. She also worked for The LaFollette Press for a time. Janie and her husband
owned other businesses in Jacksboro and
She was preceded in death by Father, Billy J. Turner, grandparents, Sally and Harley
Turner, O.G. and Octavia Myers. Survived
by husband, Michael; mother, Wilma Turner; special dog companion, Penny; several
aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews
other relatives and many friends.
Funeral services were Sept. 17, 2015
at Walters Funeral Home Chapel with
Rev. Randy Comer officiating. Online
condolences for Janie may be made at
Sept. 17, 2015
The LaFollette Press
Page 10 • The Tennessee Press • November 2015
N.C. publishers mobilize against independent contract threat
For more than a decade, North
Carolina newspapers have enjoyed
a legislative presumption of independent contractor status under
the state’s Workers’ Compensation
law. This is a tremendous advantage for newspapers in Workers’
Comp litigation. In fact, since the
passage of this legislative presumption, there has been little – if
any – challenge to independent
contractor status under the state’s
Workers’ Compensation law.
Earlier this year, legislation was
introduced into both houses of the
L. MICHAEL ZINSER
legislature to not only repeal the legislative presumption, but to also add
independent contractor “unfriendly”
language to the statutory test for
independent contractor status.
Under the leadership of North
Carolina Press Association President Regina Glaspie, publishers
mobilized to oppose this legislation. They attended legislation sessions in person, and via fullcourt
press reached out to legislators via
telephone, e-mail and social media.
At least one newspaper editorialized against the bill, making a
First Amendment argument:
At risk of sounding paranoid,
it seems the most recent Senate
changes to H.B. 42 target only
newspaper publishing. In fact,
newspapers have been a frequent
Senate target in the last couple
sessions, including a measure
that added a tax on newspaper
sales, a move that also impacted
newspaper customers. We strongly
suspect that the moves are in
retaliation for stories or editorials
political leaders neither like nor
agree with. Such actions are the
antithesis of an unfettered press
granted by the U.S. Constitution.
On September 29, 2015, the
publishers were successful – the
bill died at the end of the legislative session.
As general counsel to the
Mid-Atlantic Circulation Managers
Association (a newspaper circulation trade association for North
Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia), I advised and assisted the
North Carolina Press Association
during this important fight, urging
the publishers to make the First
Threats to kill managers
Mayo was a welder at PCC
Structurals, a company that manufactures aircraft parts. He began
to have disagreements with his
supervisors and complained to
human resources. After a meeting
with human resources, Mayo
began making threatening comments around his coworkers, stating he “felt like coming down to
PCC with a shotgun and blowing
off the heads of the supervisors.”
He made these types of comments
on at least five occasions.
Mayo’s coworkers reported
these outbursts to management.
Human resources interviewed
Mayo about his complaints, where
he stated he “couldn’t guarantee
he wouldn’t do that.” He was immediately suspended and barred
from company property. A police
officer came to Mayo’s house, and
he was voluntarily committed to
a psychiatric hospital. He then
took leave under the Family and
Medical Leave Act, until he was
cleared to return to work. Mayo
was terminated shortly thereafter.
Mayo filed suit in the U.S.
District Court for the District of
Oregon, alleging a violation of
the Americans with Disabilities
Act, and that he was terminated
because of his disability, which
was discriminatory. The District
Court granted PCC’s motion for
summary judgment, and Mayo
appealed to the 9th Circuit. The
9th Circuit found that Mayo was
“not a qualified individual.”
The Court noted, “An essential
function of almost every job is
the ability to appropriately handle
stress and interact with others.” It
further stated, “[The ADA] does not
require that an employee whose
unacceptable behavior threatens
the safety of others be retained,
even if the behavior stems from
a mental disability.” The Court
found, “Mayo’s credible, detailed
and unwavering plan to kill his
supervisors more than adequately
demonstrated that he lacked the
ability to appropriately handle
stress and interact with others.”
Mayo’s claim was dismissed.
Barcus was a freight truck driver
who delivered freight for CEVA
Logistics. Barcus claimed he was
injured while delivering freight and
filed for Workers’ Compensation
benefits. His claim was denied by
the hearing officer and refused on
appeal to the Industrial Commission. Barcus then appealed to the
trial court of the Franklin County
Court of Common Pleas.
The trial court granted CEVA’s
motion for summary judgment,
finding that reasonable minds
could only conclude that Barcus
was an independent contractor.
Barcus then appealed to the Court
of Appeals of Ohio, 10th Appellate District, alleging error.
Among the factors found by the
Court indicating independent contractor status:
• Barcus had a written independent contractor agreement and a
lease agreement for his truck.
• Barcus could employ other
persons to assist him in performing his contractual obligations.
• The term of the contract
agreement was one (1) year and
• Barcus was paid 65% of the
total amount every other week.
• Barcus received IRS Form
1099 at the end of the year.
• Barcus leased his truck and was
responsible for all maintenance and
insurance, as well as any repairs.
The Court concluded that
“Measures undertaken to comply
with federal regulations do not
demonstrate the control needed to
establish an employer/employee
The Court granted CEVA’s motion for summary judgment.
L. Michael Zinser is a Nashville
attorney with The Zinser Law
Firm. His office telephone is
To share your news, please send your items to [email protected] and [email protected]
November 2015 • The Tennessee Press • Page 11
Bogeymen on both sides of school records dispute
You can’t have a good culture
war without a bogeyman, and I
can tell you from experience the
same is true about public records
fights in Tennessee.
Exhibit A is the raging battle between the American Center for Law
& Justice (ACLJ), a Christian-based
conservative religion advocacy law
firm in Washington, and several,
if not all, of the state’s 146 school
districts. I say “is” because I predict
it will be the “long-running” dispute
by the time you read this.
The ACLJ was birthed 25 years
ago by billionaire televangelist Pat
Robertson. It has requested a broad
assortment of records dealing with
how Tennessee schools teach middle-school students about world
religions. The battle stems from
reported complaints by a parent or
parents that their children are being indoctrinated in the principles
of Islam in seventh grade social
studies classes. One complaint said
a child had been forced to memorize “pillars” of Islam.
School board lawyers have
advised their clients to deny the
records request. They cite a section of state law that states records
shall “be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state.”
And, they advise, ACLJ doesn’t
qualify as a “citizen” of Tennessee.
That is a stalling tactic, ACLJ
officials point out, because the request was signed by Carly F. Gammill, “senior litigation counsel”
who they identify as a Tennessee
resident. The letterhead says Washington, D.C., but the letter lists her
office at an address on Front Street
in downtown Franklin. It’s not
clear whether anyone has pulled
her over yet to check her photo ID
to establish her residency status.
Local school officials are telling
parents through TPA member
newspapers that they are not
teaching religion. One Knoxville
principal reported to the News
Sentinel that she sent e-mails to
1,331 members of her middle
school “community” explaining
the social studies standards even
though she had gotten only a
handful of inquiries from parents.
“It’s not studying religion as
much as it’s studying world
history and all of the things that
impact world history over the
ages,” Millicent Smith, Knox
County’s director of curriculum,
told the paper. “It’s not a focus
on the study of religion. I think
that’s the misnomer.”
ACLJ prefers to equate the complaints with that “imaginary man
who frightens children.” Schools
officials and their attorneys across
the state prefer to use the other part
of the bogeyman definition – “people who cause trouble or problems,
The ACLJ is notorious for suing
schools districts over religious
freedom issues, so that makes it
the perfect bogeyman for school
officials, particularly the Tennes-
see School Boards Association
As the headline on an editorial
by TPA President Jack McElroy in
the Oct. 4 Knoxville News Sentinel said: “Bad actors seize stage
in state’s public records debate.”
McElroy was a little more direct
than me in his editorial:
“The term ‘bad actors’ keeps
coming up in the debate over
whether governments should be
able to charge citizens fees to see
public records. The law works well
when both sides act in good faith.
But what happens when public-records ‘terrorists’ simply want
to harass the government? Or
when office holders want to deny
requests for personal reasons?
“Now bad actors have taken
the stage across the state with a
request for information on how
schools are teaching about Islam.”
McElroy pointed out that the
records request letter “seems designed to be burdensome. The first
item asks for ‘Any and all records
containing or otherwise concerning communications between and
among any officials, employees,
representatives, and/or agents of
the Knox County Schools concerning any world religion.’
“The request goes on for 12
paragraphs seeking ‘any and all’
records related to curriculum,
standards, policies, guides, teachers, texts, materials, field trips,
tests and assignments. Sometimes
the term ‘world religion’ is included. Other times the broader phrase
‘social studies’ is used.
“Only one paragraph gets at all
specific: a request for ‘assignments
or activities in which students …
are asked and/or required to recite
prayers and/or chants, speak
in Arabic or other foreign language(s), or engage in any other
speech and/or conduct associated
with any world religion.’
You have bogeymen on both
sides. The citizenship stalling tactic – one card in a deck of legal
provisions stacked against citizen
access – makes Tennessee school
districts look like the bogeyman
in the eyes of the ACLJ and
supporters who donate millions
every year to the organization.
I hate to quibble with somebody
else’s rights under the Tennessee
Public Records Act, but I agree
with Jack McElroy that the request
is bigger and broader than it needed to be. The ACLJ should have
limited its request to the school
district or districts where parents
had complained. That can’t be 146
If the ACLJ was trying to simply
intimidate school officials or get
more people clicking the “Donate”
button on its website, they might
have succeeded. At the same time,
they might have gone far enough
to do great damage to our already
riddled public records law.
The controversy arises at the
peak of the public debate over
whether to allow charges to inspect public records or what The
(Maryville) Daily Times editor
Buzz Trexler has editorially dubbed
In more than 400 pages of
public comment, found on the
website of the Office of Open
Records Counsel (OORC), statements overwhelmingly opposed
the proposal. The ACLJ controver-
sy discussion is certain to muddy
The TSBA needed a new bogeyman. The “pay-per-view” proposal
originated with the Bristol school
district in a case where a football
parent reportedly filed a records
request to find out why his son
was not getting more playing time.
After the Sept. 16 OORC public
hearing in Knoxville, a Johnson
City TV station investigated and
discovered the Bristol parent had
never had to fulfill the request
because the parent withdrew it.
The ACLJ is asking for copies
of records, not just to inspect,
which means it can be charged for
the labor to produce the records.
Schools can charge for providing
those records, including any labor
over one hour, but TSBA and others will argue it is an example of
the burden some requests place on
There is enough slack in the
law already so that most records
requests don’t create a burden
It would take a public opinion
poll to determine which side the
public might take in this debate
-- should citizens be allowed to
find out what their kids are being
taught or is it okay to deny such
requests over technicalities.
Frank Gibson is TPA’s public
policy director and was founding
director of the Tennessee Coalition
for Open Government. He is co-author of “Keys to Open Government,”
available from TPA and TCOG.
Contact him at [email protected]
com or 615-202-2685.
Entries for Tennessee public notice journalism contest due Dec. 31
FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Tennessee Press Association (TPA) Board of Directors
established a Tennessee Public
Notice Journalism Contest at
its July 16 meeting. The contest recognizes journalists that
use public notice, or the lack of
required public notice, to raise
awareness of its importance.
The award is intended to encourage reporters and editors to
incorporate public notices into
their reporting and writing.
Criteria for the award mirrors that of the national Public
Notice Journalism Contest
administered annually by the
Public Notice Resource Center (PNRC.) The winner of
the Tennessee Public Notice
Journalism Contest will be advanced to the national contest
automatically. TPA is a member of the PNRC.
The annual award is given to a
TPA member newspaper journalist, or team of journalists, that
utilizes public notices to generate
stories of interest or importance
to readers. A prize of $200 will
be awarded to the winning journalist or divided among a team
of winning journalists. There
is a $700 prize available to the
winner of the national Contest.
• One award will be announced
in January 2016 for a story published in calendar year 2015.
• For purposes of this contest,
newspaper public notices are
defi ned as those announcements
or disclosures that are statutorily required by a private party or
governmental entity, and which
must be published in a newspa-
per of general circulation.
• Submissions must be a news
or feature story that involves a
public notice. No editorials.
• Stories must cite the public
notice requirement and refer
readers to the publication in
which it appeared. Online
references must include links.
If public notice requirements
were not met or were deficient, the story must explain
how and why the notice was
• Stories must have been
originally published in print.
Clippings must be scanned
and must include the date, and
must be submitted as a PDF
• The entry may include
coverage over several editions
to demonstrate one developing
story over time.
Judges for the contest will be
recognized journalism scholars
• Entries are due to TPA via
[email protected] no later than
December 31, 2015. Information
on the national Public Notice
Journalism Award that is presented annually by the Public
Notice Resource Center, as well
as examples of winning series
of stories, can be found at
Tennessee Press Service
Advertising Placement Snapshot
Year* as of Sept. 30
*The Tennessee Press Service Inc. fiscal year runs Dec. 1 through Nov. 30
Page 12 • The Tennessee Press • November 2015
To the readers, it’s almost all about the stories
Here in Tennessee, I often
meet with member publishers
to discuss the content of their
newspapers. I had a unique
opportunity to visit with publishers from Alaska to Florida
over a recent weekend to disKEVIN SLIMP
cuss how they might improve
I traveled to Albuquerque,
where I gave the keynote
address at the New Mexico Press Association Convention
on a Saturday. On that Sunday morning, I caught a flight
to Orlando, where I spoke at an international conference
made up of newspaper and magazine publishers.
My assignment in Florida was a little out of the ordinary.
In addition to giving the keynote, I was asked to meet with
publishers individually and look over their products, offering criticism and advice. The convention planner expected
maybe a dozen publishers to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with me for 30 minutes each over two days.
By the time I left Florida, I had met with more than 20
publishers, who represented scores of titles.
While I was packing my computer to head back to the
airport, several of the
me. Most of them
said something like,
“I can’t wait for you
to see my magazine
next year” or “I plan
to win all the awards
next year after making the changes you
A thin, white line can make a
drop shadow look much cleaner
It reminded me a
on newsprint. Compare the drop
little of my visits to
shadow (top) without the white
line to the same shadow (bottom ) Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where I’m
with a thin, white line.
invited every couple
of years to spend two days with the news staff there. I’m
always surprised by the things we get into while I’m with
the Kentucky New Era, but tend to find our page critiques
the most helpful exercise. I can’t take credit for the idea. It
originally came from Eli Pace, editor, and we’ve made it a
regular part of my visits.
The idea works like this: The various editors meet
PURCHASE, from Page 1
things about this opportunity
were the staffs that were already
in place,” Parkins said. “No one
knows the landscape of these
markets better than April Jackson
in Humboldt and Cindy East in
Dyer. “We believe this transition
will be beneficial for the communities that we serve,” he said.
Parkins said for the first 12
months, subscribers of the newspapers should see very few changes.
“We believe strongly in newspapers and the power of the
printed word,” Parkins added.
around a conference table
for a few hours, while we
look over pages from the
previous year. This is done
by projecting the pages
onto a large screen, where
we can critique the pages
We discuss the quality of
headlines, the placement
of stories, the general layout of
the pages and more. Once, I noted
that newspaper flag on the front
page looked a little dirty. Eli gave
me the go-ahead to “play with the
flag” that afternoon and I sent a
clean copy to him before heading
back to the hotel.
Not knowing he was actually
When critiquing publications at a recent conference, the focus group keyed on stories
going to use the cleaner design, I
and writing more than anything else. What else did they like a lot? Crossword puzzles.
was surprised the next morning
when he told me several readers
When I met individually with publishers, I shared the
had called in to comment on the improved front page
of the focus groups, and then went through their
page by page, sharing my own thoughts.
All I did was clean up the drop shadow behind the
Afterward, more than a few of the participants told me it
words “Kentucky New Era.” I didn’t change the shape
was the most valuable program they’d ever attended at a
or size of anything. I simply inserted a thin while line
between the characters in the flag and the drop shadow
Why was it so valuable? Most of us, I think, get so used
behind them. Little things make a big difference.
to seeing our newspapers that we forget how the reader
While preparing for the Florida group, I gathered a
sees them. By looking at their products through new eyes,
group of 23 folks in my hometown of Knoxville to look
I was able to share ideas that will be valuable as they conover some of the various newspapers and magazines that
tinually work to improve their publications.
would be represented in Orlando. This focus group was
Here’s a thought: How about gathering a focus group
made up of ordinary readers. None of them were profesto look at your newspapers every six months? By offering
sional writers, editors or designers.
to pay for lunch, I had 23 willing participants, giving us
I divided the focus group into smaller groups of three to
enough folks to break into groups and critique two dozen
four members each and asked them to critique a dozen eltitles in four hours.
ements of the publications. These included stories, design,
In my customer service survey last month, I learned
readability and other elements.
that the chief concern of subscribers is the number of local
Most surprising to me was the lack of concern over
stories and the quality of writing. For nonsubscribers,
paper quality. Most readers didn’t seem to care whether
quality of writing was number one and local story content
they were reading something printed on coated stock,
was number two.
newsprint or something else.
Consider creating your own focus group. I can’t wait
What they cared about most were the stories. Were the
to hear from the publishers I met in Florida to learn
topics of local interest? Were the writers local, or did they
about the improvements to their products in the comget the material from a news service? How was the quality
of the writing?
“Having all three newspapers
under one umbrella gives us a
lot of flexibility and opportunities to expand coverage across
the entire county. In time, we
believe our readers will see
a much better value in their
hometown newspapers,” he said.
Jackson will remain as publisher of The Chronicle and The TriCity Reporter. Jackson will also
serve as editor of The Chronicle,
and East will remain as editor of
the Tri-City Reporter.
“This is a very positive event
for The Chronicle and The Tri-
City Reporter. Local ownership
of local newspapers just makes
sense,” Jackson said. “Our combined efforts will give readers
more local news and give area
businesses expanded advertising
Elliott believes the three
newspapers working together as
one team will accomplish great
“I look forward to working with
the Humboldt and Dyer newspapers,” Elliott said. “There are endless opportunities for our communities to come together and grow,
both in the news department and
for the small businesses that are
competing with the bigger stores.”
The Humboldt Chronicle and
The Tri-City Reporter both date
back to the late 1800s. The Milan
Exchange, later purchased by
the Milan Mirror, was founded
In 1956, J. Frank Warmath purchased The Courier-Chronicle and
in 1969, he purchased The Tri-City
Reporter. A newspaper enthusiast, he later acquired the Milan
Exchange and also an interest in
the Trenton Herald-Gazette.
Warmath later sold the
Exchange to longtime Mirror
Exchange editor and publisher,
the late Bob Parkins.
The Chronicle serves Humboldt
and south Gibson County, drawing
news and readers from Fruitland,
Gibson, Gadsden and Three Way.
The Tri-City serves Dyer,
Rutherford and Kenton in north
Gibson County, and also has
news and readership in the areas of Yorkville and Newbern.
The Mirror-Exchange serves
Milan, Medina, Bradford, Atwood and Lavinia.