Monday, December 31, 2007

Flag-napper steals Commercial Appeal's flag on Christmas Day

CA copy editors saw it happen from the newsroom windows. Asks CA blogger Blake Fontenay, son of former Tennessean rewrite man Charles Fontenay: "Stealing an American flag on Christmas Day? Why stop there? Why not kick a puppy, insult a mother and defile an apple pie, too?"

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rutherford Co. mayor declines to release personnel file after camera found

County Mayor Ernest Burgess won't release the personnel file of fired EMA director Joe Reed until legal counsel has signed off on it, the (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journal reports. Says Tennessee Press Association lawyer Rick Hollow: "Advice of counsel is not a recognized defense of a records request in Tennessee."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Remembering Miss Warden

A personal reminisce from the chapter Webmaster:

There’s no way I can top the recent piece by my friend and colleague Gail Kerr about the passing of longtime Tennessean “Horse Sense” columnist Miss Margaret Warden. But I wanted share some thoughts, too.

I don’t know how I got picked back in the summer of 1994 to write the story for The Tennessean’s Local News section that Miss Warden was retiring. I was an intern between my junior and senior years at Vanderbilt, and at not-quite-20, I had to be the youngest of the youngest on the news staff – a strange choice for a story about one of our longest-serving newsroom icons.

But they picked me, and off I went one day to Miss Warden's home near the Belmont campus to talk to the great lady herself. (I didn’t have a car; I think I had to borrow one from my editor, Tommy Goldsmith, to get there.)

Miss Warden was a little-bitty woman, nearly 90, but you could tell she didn’t need, or want, anyone’s help getting around – and, as I later learned, she’d lived her whole life in that independent way.

Books, books, books, my Lord, they were everywhere in the house. Everywhere. On the shelves and elsewhere. There were stacks of books literally on the left and right of every step going up to the second floor. Horse books, a lot of them, but not all. Miss Warden gave photographer Nina Long and me a tour of her home and talked to us at some length in her parlor about her life and career. I don’t think she even owned a television set; I don’t remember seeing one in her house.

She was gracious but not too gracious to be honest, such as when she talked about something that probably was only whispered about years ago, when her doctor-father left the family high and dry to run off with one of his female patients.

But much of what I learned about Miss Warden I learned back at 1100 Broadway, where two generations of staffers were eager to share their favorite Miss Warden stories.

I went back to see Jimmy Davy in his office in the Sports Department and ask him to share his thoughts. (He hollered through the open door to David Climer that Miss Warden was retiring. Climer asked if it were too late to hire the male stripper.)

Jimmy recalled that when Miss Warden came in to type her column, without fail, she slugged it “hoss.” One of the newspaper’s first computer systems had a habit of adding a letter at the end of the slug to any story whose slug was already taken. One day there was a computer glitch and the technical people happened upon all of Miss Warden’s columns in the computer's brain, finding her slugs had gone slam through the alphabet, twice over, from A to ZZ.

Prior to that, the newspaper had input copy for typesetting by scanning in typewritten stories; letters to be capitalized were, I believe, underlined so the scanner would recognize them. With such a system, some writers found they didn’t have to fool with making capital letters on their typewriters because they could much more easily underline the hard copy with a marker before it was scanned.

But not Miss Warden. When she typed her byline, Jimmy said, she capitalized “Margaret Warden.” This was someone for whom modern technology did not lighten one’s responsibilities for upholding accepted standards of decorum.

One of my favorite Miss Warden stories is one I did not hear until some years later. Miss Warden had turned in her column one week, but on one weekend day, the editors found they had a question about it. They called and called but couldn’t get her to the phone, so they dispatched a staffer to her Belmont-area home to bang on the door (I was once told it was one of the photographers, but Frank Sutherland once swore to me it was him, so I believe him). Miss Warden finally came to the door, mad as a hornet: “Damn you, Frank Sutherland, I’m listening to the opera!”

(As my colleague Colby Sledge pointed out in her obituary, Miss Warden had had two chickens, named Tosca and Carmen.)

A few days after my story ran about Miss Warden ran, I got a letter in the mail at the paper, addressed to “Ms. Jennifer Peebles, Ace Reporter.” The return address sticker bore a silhouette of a jockey on a galloping steed: “Miss M. Lindsley Warden/1806 E. Belmont Cir./Nashville, Tennessee 37212.” In it were several yellowing pages of typewritten material – a sort of Miss Warden CV -- that I’m excerpting from below.

Like Gail said, Miss Warden was a true character. I see her in the old black-and-white pictures in the newspaper library, almost always outside at some horse event with her hat on and her white gloves, looking the picture of primness and properness as she gathered with Tennessee’s horse-y set – often super-wealthy men and their ladies-who-lunch society wives – for events like the Tennessean-sponsored dressage competition. (Yes, The Tennessean used to sponsor an annual dressage tournament. And we had a company plane. No, I’m not kidding. This will surely surprise my co-workers who are disappointed we no longer get free coffee in the newsroom.)

But those pictures don’t tell the whole story.

Miss Warden was born to Nashville society – like her return address above, she often referred to herself by her whole name, Margaret Lindsley Warden, a descendant of the prominent Nashville Lindsleys. But money didn’t grow on trees when she was growing up, and owning a horse of her own was not in the cards. She compensated for that through her study of horses and her work as a journalist. Her expertise wasn't something that was just given to her; she earned it.

Those pictures also make her look fragile and dainty. She may have been that way on the outside, but not on the inside. It’s a cliché, but Margaret Warden really did live life on her own terms. In an era where women were largely defined by who they married, Miss Warden stayed single her whole life. Can you imagine what it was like to be the only woman sportswriter at The Tennessean in the 1950s? -- Heck, I know women who worked in that department in the '70s and '80s who had enough of a challenge. And even though she couldn't own a horse of her own, she found a way to spend her life around horses anyhow.

And when Belmont College/University came after her house, it was like that bumper sticker for the NRA: “They’ll take away my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.” Well, Belmont was going to have to pry Miss Warden's house from her in a similar manner.

The school was no match for Miss Warden. As Gail says, they got her house, but only after they built her an exact replica of it. She died there the weekend after Thanksgiving. She was 103.

I think we would all do well to have as full a life as she had.

And now, here’s Miss Warden, by Miss Warden:

In the late 1920’s Col. Luke Lea, the publisher of The Nashville Tennessean, and a first cousin by marriage, allowed me to write a horse column once a week for that paper.

It last 2 or 3 years, but the top brass were not much interested, and when I went to Europe in 1928 with the Ward-Belmont party, that was an excuse to end it.

I loved animals always, especially horses, and before this newspaper work had ridden not very much, i.e. on camp horses, a gaited saddle horse borrowed from Luke Lea and boarded a couple of months at Ward-Belmont, and that was about all.

While in Europe, I attended races at Longchamp near Paris, a horse show at Lucerne, and races at York, England, and stayed two weeks (after the party sailed for home) in England visiting stables of Thoroughbreds, including that of King George VI at Sandringham. There I was shown around by Edmund Walker, the caretaker and had tea with him (not with the King).

Returning home, I worked at the Presbyterian Book Store, earning $15.00 a week. Thinking I was rich, I wanted to buy a large pony owned by Ward-Belmont. Her name was Cigarette and she had been a lead pony at the Fair Grounds. My mother and aunt were disgusted. “Working to support a horse,” they said, so that ended that.

Early in 1939, Coleman Harwell was editor of The Nashville Tennessean, noticed the horse activity around Nashville, and was told by someone that I had written a horse column some years before. So he hired me to write “Horse Sense,” the weekly column still running in The Tennessean, Sports, Sunday.

'Commercial Appeal' sues Memphis, alleges slow-walking records requests

From Lawrence Buser's story:

The newspaper asked a Chancery Court to order the city to change its internal policy for processing public records requests which, the suit says, is “unnecessarily complicated and involves excessive delays in fulfilling public records requests.”

The city policy does not allow a citizen to request a public record, other than a traffic report, directly from the relevant city office or department. Instead, a written request must be made to the city attorney’s office which forwards the records request to the appropriate department and which then sends the records to the city attorney’s office for review.

Pulle returns to 'Scene' as managing editor

Says editor Liz Garrigan: "A fearless truth teller, Pulle’s homecoming is great news for readers and bad news for wayward cops, stupid Metro Council members and police prostitution decoys who consummate the act against district attorney instruction."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Silverman: Multimedia is the future of journalism

Says Tennessean editor Mark Silverman in his Sunday column:

I'm often asked if I would advise young people to go into journalism. My emphatic answer is "yes."

While an increasing number of people prefer online delivery of news and information, print newspapers typically remain the single biggest news media in most communities. Taken together, newspapers' print and online coverage offers a bright future for young people who want to make a positive difference in their communities.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wash Post veteran, author Atkinson to speak at library Dec. 4

Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson will be at the downtown Nashville library at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, to talk about his book The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-44.

The event includes a reception, discussion and book signing. It's free to get in, but RSVPs are encouraged and can be made by calling call 259-4000, ext. 234, or e-mailing

Middle Tennesseans might remember that Atkinson traveled to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division while he was at The Washington Post.

His appearance is the latest installment in the speakers series at the library put on by McNeely Pigott and Fox public relations firm.

Partial retreat on Sunshine law change

The legislative subcommittee on open meetings has backed down a bit from its earlier proposal to allow up to a quorum of members of a governing board to meet in secret. They're now proposing to allow up to four members to meet in secret. The current law bans meetings by two or more members.

Homeless newspaper launches in Nashville

Copies of The Contributor will sell for $1 at major intersections downtown, The Nashville Scene's Pith in the Wind blog reports. Check out The Contributor's Web site here.

Tase him, bro: Leaf-Chronicle reporter voluntarily gets Tasered

Reporter Jamie Dexter of The (Clarksville) Leaf-Chronicle volunteered to get Tasered in front of a class for the local Citizens Police Academy: "I wouldn’t describe the sensation as pain – about the only way you could describe it is annoying, debilitating and 'it sucks.'" Pix and first-person account are on his blog.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Senator proposes toughening Sunshine Law

"I'll file this bill because it's hot now and we need to get on it," Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, tells the News-Sentinel.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clarksville officials differ on proposal to loosen sunshine law

From The (Clarksville) Leaf-Chronicle:

"I don't think everything needs to be public," said one city councilman. "Sometimes its rather minor, but maybe worthy of discussion with another person for informational purposes."

Silverman: 'Open government is a major issue for each resident of Tennessee'

A column by Tennessean editor Mark Silverman:

But wouldn't you prefer to know what your representatives are up to even if that transparency makes it harder to do business? It is, after all, your taxes, your public services and even your public safety that's being discussed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another honor for Seigenthaler

This one is from the American Press Institute.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Prior restraint on cow information?

The Senate version of the federal farm bill would outlaw publication of information about cows on specific farms, SPJ's FOI FYI blog reports. "Farmer Brown says he opposes the proposed widening of Highway 12, which he says would ruin the pristine view of the pasture where he raises his 25 Jersey cows --- oh, no, the feds just showed up and they're shipping this reporter off to Gitmo!"

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Majority of Nashville mayors oppose Sunshine Law change

"We're just doing the people's work," Franklin Mayor-Elect John Schroer told The Tennessean.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

'Tennessean' will sponsor spelling bee after all

Blogger Kay Brooks has the e-mail, and has Nashville Scene Editor Liz Garrigan's comments: "If The Scene had a hand in The Tennessean’s turnabout, then our offer to step up was worth it.”

Knoxville City Council backs existing Sunshine Law

From this morning's News-Sentinel:

The Tennessee Open Meetings Act works just fine as it is for Knoxville City Council members, who unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night signaling their opposition to any changes that would lessen the law governing local elected officials' meetings and deliberations.

The resolution, spurred by ongoing talks among state officials to consider allowing more private meetings under the law, was sponsored by all nine council members.

TV station barred from Memphis school lunch center

In the wake of recent problems, Memphis' WREG-TV Channel 3 asked to go into the the Memphis City School system's Central Nutrition Center and have been turned down.

"We normally don't allow anyone in," replied (Superintendent Dan) Ward. "What would be the purpose?"

'Tennessean' circulation declines

From The Scene's Liz Garrigan: "While some dailies show gains, most others are seeing their figures slowly erode even while readership on their websites are healthy (which doesn't come close to mitigating the revenue hit associated with fewer eyes on the print product). Here at home, The Tennessean is no exception."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Frank Deford speaks Thursday at UT-Martin

7:30 p.m. in the Elam Center, The Jackson Sun reports.

Chattanooga TFP hires Pulitzer-winning cartoonist from Christian Science Monitor

The Times Free Press is hiring Clay Bennett to replace Bruce Plante, who recently left to work for the Tulsa World, Editor & Publisher reports.

Harless leaves 'City Paper'; Lawson to join it

Metro reporter Bill Harless is going to Thailand with the Peace Corps, reports, prompting a staff shuffle. Meanwhile, Richard Lawson of will join the City Paper staff to cover business.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Claiming our blog via Technorati

Technorati Profile

Open Government committee chair opposes Sunshine Law change

State Sen. Randy McNally says he does not favor the proposal to allow up to a quorum of members of a governing body to meet in secret, The Oak Ridger reports.

First Lady bans media from meeting tonight with gov's mansion neighbors

Says The Nashville Scene's Jeff Woods: "It comes as no surprise that Conte wouldn't want reporters to attend the neighborhood meeting at the governor's mansion. It promises to be a lively affair, with residents complaining about potential disruptions to their lives on Curtiswood Lane and putting the first lady on the spot."

Hobbs is new communications chief for state Repubs

Nashville journalist/blogger/commentator Bill Hobbs has taken a post as the new communications director for the Tennessee Republican Party. From his blog: "I'm sure you heard this career advice at one time or another: "Do what you love and the money will come." Well, today, I'm living proof of that."

Climate change seminar for journalists Nov. 8 at First Amend. Ctr

Here's the release:

Register now for “Reporting Strategies to Address Climate Change”

A FACS-SPJ seminar for journalists

Thursday, November 8, in Nashville

The issue of climate change is less an argument of whether change has
occurred and more of what can be done to slow or reverse the change.

To help journalists report on these issues -- not only on a global but also a community level – Foundation for American Communications will present “Reporting Strategies to Address Climate Change,” a seminar for journalists, on Thursday, November 8, in Nashville.

The daylong seminar will provide an overview of the climate change situation, including a report on the accelerated rate of polar cap ice melt; a look at the carbon "footprint," and legal and policy strategies to address the problem.

The seminar will be held at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Three of the nation’s experts on the environmental crisis will be featured:

+ Robert Kaufmann, Ph.D., Center for Energy & Environmental Studies, Boston University

+ Walt Meier, Ph.D., Research Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder

+ Michael Vandenbergh, J.D., Professor of Law and Director of the Climate Change
Program at Vanderbilt University, Nashville

Registration is free but you must be pre-registered to attend. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

The seminar is presented in association with SPJ, the First Amendment Center of the Freedom Forum at Vanderbilt and The Tennessean.

The complete agenda can be viewed online at To register for the seminar, go online to or phone 626-584-0010.

FACS is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational institution providing seminars for journalists on complex issues in the news. FACS is a programming partner of SPJ.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Quorum may become standard for sunshine law

Legislative study committee will recommend dropping the law's minimum number of meeting attendees from two to a quorum of the body in question.

MTSU alum promoted to PIO at state Dept of Revenue

From the press release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Department of Revenue announces the welcoming of Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Hagan-Dier and promotion of Sara Jo Houghland to public information officer ...

Houghland, who has been with the department for eight months, will continue to contribute to communication efforts for the department. She will also serve as a liaison to the Tennessee Film Commission, providing information about Tennessee's film incentives and promoting film and television production within the State.

"Sara Jo already has contributed greatly to the departments internal and external communications efforts," Farr said. "I look forward to her future work in publicizing Revenue initiatives, especially in partnership with the Film Commission." ...

Before joining the department, Houghland assisted in production and script development at Mandate Pictures Production Company in Beverly Hills, Ca. She earned a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Middle Tennessee State University. Originally from Nashville, Houghland currently lives in the Green Hills neighborhood and is an active volunteer with the Tennessee State Museum Foundation.

Morris to sell 'Oak Ridger' to New York-based company

Gatehouse Media will buy the paper for $115 million, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports.

Movie about reporter being filmed at Commercial Appeal offices

It's Nothing but the Truth, starring Matt Dillon and Kate Becksindale, reports the AP's Woody Baird.

The newspaper's real reporters and editors went about their duties throughout the filming, surrounded at times by dozens of production workers, actors, directors and camera operators.

Stacks of movie making equipment left little open space in the newsroom and its adjoining hallways.

Disruptive? "I suppose so, but I see their newspaper came out today," (writer-director Rod) Lurie said Friday.

From JP, who can't get the formatting right on this blog entry: See more at the Internet Movie Database.

Monday, October 22, 2007

SPJ speaks out in support of 'CA' staffers who bucked sponsored news

From the statement:

As news organizations develop creative ways to create new revenue streams in a time of lower circulation and ratings, SPJ encourages journalists to keep a vigilant eye toward journalistic independence and integrity. A wall between news and advertising must be firmly established and upheld. The trust of readers, viewers and listeners is at stake, and once lost, cannot be retrieved.

“I cringed when I read about an editor's interest in ‘monetizing content,’
a phrase that needs a wall right in the middle of it,” SPJ Ethics Committee
chairman Andy Schotz said. “Outsiders’ money should not be involved in the news

Saturday, October 20, 2007

'Scene' steps in to save spelling bee

Nashville Scene editor Liz Garrigan says her newspaper will apply to pick up sponsorship of the Middle Tennessee competition that feeds winners into the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The Tennessean has dropped its sponsorship, leaving the bee in peril this year. “I won my fifth grade spelling bee. I’m a spelling nerd from way back. I’d love The Scene to sponsor it," Garrigan told WKRN-Channel 2 (via Volunteer Voters).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Memphis editor admits FedEx sponsorship idea was mistake

Commercial Appeal Editor Chris Peck says the paper went on "treacherous ground" when it considered having FedEx back a six-part series, Editor and Publisher says.

Midstate spelling bee in peril after 'Tennessean' backs out

Belmont may put on bee next year but can't this year; bloggers Kay Brooks and Bill Hobbs voice criticism of The Tennessean. Hobbs asks, "Becawz thay dont caar if there fyucher reeders (an riters) kin spel?"

Federal shield law passes U.S. House

National SPJ president Clint Brewer (boss at The City Paper and former president of our chapter) calls it a "slam dunk" and hails it as "an amazing day for journalism and democracy."

Monday, October 15, 2007

SPJ luncheon panel Oct. 25 on state Ethics Commission

Topic: Tennessee's Ethics Commission -- Mission or Mess?
Views of Officials, Media, Lobbyists, Public Advocates
  • Bruce Androphy, executive director, Tenn. Ethics Commission
  • Courtney Pearre, chairman, Tennessee Association of Lobbyists
  • Frank Gibson, executive director, Tennessee Coalition for Open Government
  • Ben Cunningham, Tennessee Tax Revolt
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007
$15 journalists, $25 all others

Phone: (615) 250-1544
Registration begins 11:15 a.m.
Luncheon served 11:30 a.m.
Location: Sunset Grill, 2001 Belcourt Ave (37212)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Commercial Appeal seeks access to sealed Ford records

A hearing is slated for next week on the Memphis paper's request to see records in the John Ford case, AP reports.

Founding editor of Gallatin paper to be inducted into TN Newspaper Hall of Fame

Col. Thomas Boyers, founding editor of the Gallatin Examiner (now the Gallatin News-Examiner), will be inducted along with former Commercial Appeal editor Frank Ahlgren, former News Sentinel editor Ralph Millett Jr., and UT journalism professor Willis Tucker, according to a story in the newest edition of The Tennessee Press. Boyers died in 1895, Ahlgren in 1995, Millet in 2000 and Tucker in 1974. The event will be Friday, Nov. 16, at the Marriott Knoxville.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ethics commissioner: We didn't deny it - we just 'deferred' it

State Ethics Commission opts not to post a defense of itself for not giving up information that had been sought in a request under the state's public records act, The City Paper reports.

Nell Adams LaFon, former assistant to 'Tennessean' publisher, dies at 90

LaFon, of Jackson, was executive assistant to Tennessean publisher Silliman Evans. She was also an aunt of former Vice President Al Gore. Services were held yesterday, The Jackson Sun reported.

Scene publisher Ferrell leaving to start new media company

As quoted in a blog post by Liz Garrigan:

"I have worked with some of my favorite people in Nashville for the last
three years, and week in and week out we put together a paper that matters to this city in terms of our coverage of news, our support of the arts and of culture," Ferrell says, sitting on this editor’s thrift store couch drinking coffee from a chipped mug. "And that’s across the board—from our edit staff to our marketing and promotions department to supporting our advertisers and causes that they support. I have loved my time at the Scene. This was just too good an opportunity for me to pass up."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Mark your calendars for Oct. 25 SPJ panel on state ethics commission

Get ready for the panel planned for Oct. 25! More details as they come available.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

DC, we are all thinking about you

Our thoughts and prayers are going out tonight to our friend and loyal SPJ member Duren Cheek, whom we are told is gravely ill. Duren served for many years with UPI, later working as a member of the Capitol Hill bureau of The Tennessean, where this reporter first met him as an intern. Duren has played a huge role in the Middle Tennessee Pro Chapter, such as being an integral part of the annual Gridiron show, and the annual benefit golf tournament he put on for the chapter was renamed as the Duren Cheek Invitational a few years ago. Duren, we are thinking about you.

Testimony ends in Knox County sunshine law trial

Case goes to jury on Monday, the News-Sentinel reports.

Federal shield law on tap for Senate Judiciary today

It's coming up on the Hill at 10 a.m. their time, which would be 9 a.m. here in Nashville. E&P has excerpts from some editorials from papers across the nation about the law. The bill is numbered as S. 2035.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

'Gentleman's agreement': Shut out the public

More from the Knox County sunshine lawsuit trial:

"For the public to think their voice is going to be heard in that
appointment process — it wasn’t going to happen,” (County Commissioner Phil)
Guthe testified. “... As unsavory as that is, that’s just the way it was.”

That 'public scrutiny' sure can get in the way

I'm paraphrasing and expanding a bit on what he said, but his thought was that lobbying and debating is an integral part of the process, but a part that works best when the commissioners feel they could speak completely candidly, without excessive public scrutiny.

-- Eaststate blogger Rich Hailey (Shots Across the Bow), on his conversation
with Knox County Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert regarding the News-Sentinel's Sunshine lawsuit trial.

Tennessean columnist Chavez won't return despite beating cancer

Tennessean columnist Tim Chavez has beaten the cancer that kept his column sidelined for a while -- but the newspaper has done away with his job and instead will use the services of conservative talk show host Phil Valentine, Liz Garrigan says in The Nashville Scene. Also: WKRN-Channel 2 is tilting back toward a more traditional newscrew setup and away from its "video journalist" experiment, and has curtailed some of its blogging.

Addendum, Thursday AM: Blogger Sean Braisted responds on both topics; Mike Byrd at The Enclave sounds off on limitations to Channel 2's political blog.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The crack dealer, the editor, the mayor and the Bi-Lo

Russia has the Kremlin. Britain has Westminister. Knox County, apparently, has the parking lot of the Bi-Lo on John Sevier Highway. Yes, it's more weirdness from the Knox County/News-Sentinel Sunshine law trial, brought to you via the plaintiffs.

Monday, September 24, 2007

'That was not how it was represented to me'

It's betrayal on the witness stand in the Knox County Sunshine lawsuit trial, the News-Sentinel reports. Meanwhile, KNS blogger Michael Silence notes that there are 19 commissioners, "five or six" of whom are supposedly trying to do the right thing, one witness told jurors. Still more details on the Shots Across the Bow blog.

An extra comma splice today, please

Poynter's Chip Scanlan reminds us that today is National Punctuation Day.

'How do we know they’re right?'

The open meetings lawsuit continues in Knoxville, the News-Sentinel reports.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jury picked in Knoxville sunshine law suit

County commissioners can't get a "fair shake," their lawyer says. (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Former 'Nashville is Talking' guru relocating to San Fran

Brittney Gilbert, who used to run the "NiT" blog for WKRN-Channel 2, is going to work for KPIX in San Francisco. Read her blog entry on her new post here. The News-Sentinel's Michael Silence follows up with a few comments.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Knoxville paper seeks bloggers on paper's coverage of its own lawsuit

Editor Jack McElroy is looking for bloggers to monitor the News-Sentinel's coverage of its litigation against the Knox County Commission, KNS blogger Michael Silence says. The newspaper has accused commissioners of violating the state Sunshine law by having private meetings.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

LeQuire and Hieronymus papers to be available at Vanderbilt

The Special Collections division of Vanderbilt's Heard Library is getting the arts-related papers of longtime Tennessean theater critic Clara Hieronymus, according to a note JP got in the mail recently from the library. The papers will pair with those already donated to the library by Banner arts critic (and artist, and Vanderbilt alum) Louise LeQuire.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tennessean editor Silverman to address SPJ this month

WHO: Mark Silverman, editor and vice president/content and audience development, The Tennessean

WHAT: Silverman will outline and discuss recent changes in news coverage
and operations of The Tennessean and the Gannett Co.

WHEN: Thursday, April 12, 2007, 11:30 a.m. CDT (opens 11:15 a.m.)

WHERE: Cabana Restaurant, 1910 Belcourt Ave. (37212) in Hillsboro Village.

WHY: A meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists' Middle Tennessee Professional Chapter

HOW: SPJ Members and other journalists and their guests $15; others $25 each. Advance registration required. Register by e-mail to or phone (615) 250-1544.

MARK SILVERMAN is seven months into his assignment to change dramatically The Tennessean's approach to news coverage and interactive publishing. Silverman became The Tennessean's editor and vice president for content and audience development in September 2006, marking the latest move in a career that began in 1971, when he joined the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram, where he served as a reporter and copy editor. During 1977-1991, Silverman served in senior editorial and news-management posts with The Miami Herald, the Providence Journal-Bulletin, the Rockford Register Star and Gannett's Westchester Rockland Newspapers. He subsequently served as director of Gannett's NEWS2000 project; as vice president-news and executive editor of the Louisville Courier Journal; and as publisher and editor of The Detroit News until his Tennessean appointment. Silverman, as well as newspapers and journalists under his management, have won many corporate and national awards for excellence. Silverman is chairman of the board of trustees of the Foundation on American Communications (FACS). With offices in Pasadena and northern Virginia, FACS is a 31-year-old nonprofit organization that provides educational services and resources for professional journalists.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

ABC's Lynn Sherr keynotes MTSU 'Women and Media' event this month

Press release in this afternoon from MTSU:


‘Women and Media’ is focus of March 26 panel

(MURFREESBORO)—ABC News “20/20” correspondent Lynn Sherr is the keynote speaker for a Women’s History Month event at MTSU Monday, March 26, on “Women and Media: Are Women’s Voices Heard in Mainstream Journalism?”

The Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies is sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public. All talks will be held in the State Farm Room of MTSU’S Business and Aerospace Building.“Women and Media” kicks off at 2:20 p.m. with a panel that addresses the main topic.

The panelists are Laurie Goodstein, national religion correspondent at the New York Times; Cindy Dampier, freelance journalist and former People magazine bureau chief; Rita Henley Jensen, founder and editor-in-chief of Women’s eNews; Cynthia Williams, anchor/reporter at WSMV-TV in Nashville; and Jennifer Brooks, reporter at The Tennessean. Beverly Keel, director of the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence, will moderate the panel.

"This will certainly be a memorable day for our students, faculty and guests," said Keel, who also is a mass communication professor at MTSU. "I am eager to hear what these national journalism leaders in the fields of broadcast, print and Internet have to say. They will provide fascinating insights about their personal experiences and their professional opinions about the state of women in journalism today."

Sherr will deliver the keynote address, “Women, Politics and the Media,” at 6 p.m. She has traveled the world as a correspondent for 20/20 and reported on presidential elections, NASA shuttle launches and HMO fraud. She won George Foster Peabody Awards for her coverage of the millennium in Bombay and her report on an alternative treatment for anorexia and bulimia. She also won American Women in Radio and Television Commendation Awards for her report on anorexia and for the ABC primetime special she co-hosted, “Susan B. Anthony Slept Here.”

She has also received awards for stories on presidential elections, Ireland’s abortion amendment, tattooed cosmetics, the abortion pill, breast-cancer victims and sexual harassment.

Sherr is the author of several books, including “Outside the Box,” “Tall Blondes” and “Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words.” She has bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, where she now serves as a trustee.

Goodstein joined the Times in 1997 after working at The Washington Post for eight years. She has covered religion and politics, the challenge of increasing religious diversity in communities and schools, clergy sexual abuse, government funding of "faith-based" charities, and the conflicts over gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research. Among the honors she has received are the 2004 first place award for Best In-Depth Reporting on Religion from the American Academy of Religion and the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year and the Supple Religion Writing Award, which she won in 1995 and 1996. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she won a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship.

Dampier is a freelance journalist who spent 17 years at People magazine. She spent 10 years as the Chicago bureau chief and was the youngest bureau chief in the magazine’s history. She oversaw the magazine’s coverage in 14 states and part of Canada and worked on stories involving Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Renee Zellweger. She was raised in Sebring, Fla., and has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Miami.

Jensen founded Women’s eNews, an award-winning independent daily news service covering issues of concern to women. The New York Daily News named her one of the 100 most influential women in New York. A former senior writer for the National Law Journal and a columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, she has more than 20 years of experience in journalism and journalism education. Her awards include the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Award, the Hunter College Presidential Grant for Innovative Uses of Technology in Teaching, the Alicia Patterson fellowship and the Lloyd P. Burns Public Service prize. Jensen is also a survivor of domestic violence and a former welfare mother who earned degrees from Ohio State University and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Williams has anchored, reported and produced series pieces for sweeps at WSMV-TV in Nashville. She is also the accomplished author of a series of four children's books that focus on a fictional inner-city neighborhood. The main character is "Enid," a young, adventurous girl who triumphs by using her leadership skills to improve her troubled community. Williams is a native of Mobile, Ala., and a graduate of the University of South Alabama.

Brooks is a reporter for The Tennessean who has also worked as a White House and congressional correspondent for various Washington news outlets, including United Press International and Gannett News Service. Over the course of a 15-year journalism career, she has covered stories ranging from the presidential impeachment and trial to the Olympics and Hurricane Katrina. Born in Muncie, Ind., she grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in political science.

Friday, January 26, 2007

MTSU to host national summit on media ethics Feb. 27-March 2

This press release came in today:

National Summit Feb. 27-March 2 at MTSU to Address Credibility Issues

(MURFREESBORO)—Twenty years ago, ethics leaders in media and higher education at a national conference asked: How can we understand and promote better media practices in the United States? Is TV too violent? Is election coverage too biased? Are newspapers and TV too explicit? And is what the media tells us true?

Asking those questions, and more, these leaders will gather Feb. 27-March 2 to once again discuss Americans’ greatest concerns about media ethics and recommend change to government, industry and education.

This second conference, set for the Middle Tennessee State University campus, will draw experts nationwide to review results from a recent national poll on media ethics and overviews of similar polls and studies over the last two decades.

“We’ll be looking at the last 20 years and what we’ve all learned from it, and then looking ahead to the next 20 and what we can do about it,” said Dr. Thomas W. Cooper, ethicist-in-residence at MTSU and one of the co-conveners, with Dr. Clifford Christians of the University of Illinois, of the original 1987 ethics summit.

“We want to find out both the public’s and professionals’ ethics concerns and then ask leaders in the field how to publicize, understand and, whenever possible, counterbalance and minimize those problems.”

Former Vice President Al Gore will exchange ideas with attendees on Tuesday, Feb. 27, and respond to findings from two new Middle Tennessee polls, one national and one statewide. During the week, conferees will analyze the data and propose solutions.

The second phase will involve delegates from leading media organizations and a “circle of elders” who will critique and endorse suggestions offered by the conferees. Also, they will help determine which actions are most pressing, practical and achievable to set the agenda for the next 20 years.

On Friday, March 2, the public and press will be invited to an open session, where leaders will announce the group’s consensus on the issues and make recommendations for 2007 and beyond. Guests may ask questions at the event, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the State Farm Room of the university’s Business and Aerospace Building.

“We’ll then be taking our findings to the White House, Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, colleges and universities and professional and academic associations,” Cooper said. “We want to move the agenda to the public sector so we can see it implemented.”In addition to the March 2 open session, other free public events include:

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m.—A screening of filmmaker and Harvard University professor Robb Moss’s latest work, “Secrecy,” a collaboration with Peter Galison exploring the world of government secrecy, in Room 221 of MTSU’s Learning Resource Center. The screening will be followed by a public question-and-answer period from 9 until 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 1, 7:30 p.m.—A lecture by Adam Clayton Powell III, former vice president of technology and programs at The Freedom Forum, a veteran newsman and a visiting professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. Powell also is the author of “Reinventing Local News: Connecting Communities Through New Technologies” and “Adam By Adam: The Autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.,” a memoir of his late father, the powerful New York congressman.

Participants such as Geneva Overholser, Deni Elliott, Jane Kirtley and Steve Coltrin and special guests including John Seigenthaler will join delegates from several professional and academic associations, media ethics publications and institutions such as The Poynter Institute, the International Radio and Television Society and The American Society of Newspaper Editors for the summit. The event is sponsored by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and MTSU and hosted by Dr. Anantha S. Babbili, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication; more details may be found at

Cooper, the author or co-author of five published books and more than 100 articles and reviews and the co-publisher of Media Ethics magazine, has taught at Emerson College in Boston since 1983. He co-produced some of the first audio spacebridges between U.S. and Soviet communications professionals and was founding director of the Association for Responsible Communication, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.

His yearlong tenure as ethicist-in-residence at MTSU is funded by a $120,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in Oklahoma City.

“Professional ethics must form the basis of higher education in mass communication disciplines,” noted Dean Babbili. "We live in an age where students and professionals are increasingly confronted with challenges at the workplace. They must be well-equipped to make wise choices quickly and confidently.

“The College of Mass Communication has made a renewed commitment to the teaching and discussion of ethics in and outside the classroom,” Babbili added. “We have fostered an intellectual atmosphere in which students and faculty look to leading figures that this summit attracts and learn from the fruits of their labor. There is a great deal of potential for us to be leaders in the debates on ethics.”

One of the largest programs in the nation, the MTSU College of Mass Communication offers degrees in 14 major areas—ranging from journalism to digital media and media management to recording industry management—and is accredited by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Teensy-tiny technology

Channel 2's Trent Seibert writes about the joys of the new media, and blogger Bill Hobbs adds his thoughts about the importance of the new gadgetry that is revolutionizing journalism.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Final call for the Memphis media reform conference

The 2007 National Conference for Media Reform is this weekend (Jan. 12-14) at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. There are too many big names to list, but to find out more go to Online registration is closed now, but you can still register and pay at the convention site.

Friday, January 5, 2007

CNN's 'Warrior' Humvee on display in Clarksville today

"Warrior One," which will be auctioned off later this month for charity, was at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital this morning, and will be moving to the Fort Campbell PX.