Monday, March 31, 2008

TPA meets June 18-21 in Johnson City

The location, reports the April edition of The Tennessee Press, will be the Carnegie Hotel, and attendees will take part in a "Jimmy Buffett-themed party" at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough. Check out for more or call the TPA offices at 865-584-5761.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Seigenthaler, Wikipedia chief have 'cordial' face-off in the 'Boro

John Seigenthaler and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales were joined by former Vice President Al Gore at the Thursday forum on the Internet and the First Amendment at MTSU. The Daily News Journal called the meeting "a pleasant exchange," despite the subject matter -- Seigenthaler, a personal friend of the Kennedy family who worked for Robert F. Kennedy in the Justice Department, has been falsely accused on his Wikipedia page of having been linked to RFK's assassination.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Think tank sues state over records delays

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research has filed suit against the state, accusing state spokeswoman Lola Potter of slow-walking the group's public records requests, the AP reported. Blogger Bill Hobbs (who is also PR dude for the GOP, but this was on his personal blog) echoed a similar sentiment.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We're on Facebook, y'all!

I've started a new "group" on Facebook for the Middle Tennessee Pro Chapter of SPJ -- go to this link -- so all you Facebookers, come on over and join in. Right now it's just me and Dru Fuller, so hurry up and join us!

State may seal off state workers' personal data

Home addresses, home phone numbers and cell phone numbers would be off-limits.

Legislature weighs closing gun records -- and jailing journalists who publish the info

Free press advocates say the provision to criminalize publication of the information amounts to unconstitutional prior restraint. Says Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press: "You can't criminalize the publication of truthful information. Just can't be done. It's completely illegal, (and) I'm sure there are any number of thoughtful lawyers and judges who will be happy to point this out to them."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Vanderbilt wants NYT, USAT for students, not Tennessean

Students will get free copies of the two national publications. University officials said they wanted to give students a broader perspective, and they feared The Tennessean could hurt student media economically. (Honest disclosure: Your chapter Webmaster is both a Tennessean employee and a former editor of The Vanderbilt Hustler. These facts are no surprise to the three people who actually read this blog, but we include that note here just as a matter of principle.)

'Volunteer Voters' blogger lands new gig at

Blogger A.C. Kleinheider, whose "Volunteer Voters" political blog got dropped by WKRN-Channel 2 recently, is going to work next week blogging for Read more on the Post's Web site.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

WSMV's radioactive dumping probe wins IRE certificate

Channel 4, which outed the practice of the dumping of radioactive materials at Middle Point Landfill near Murfreesboro, has been honored with a certificate from IRE in its national contest. This just in from the press release:

Below Top 20 Markets — Demetria Kalodimos and David Sussman of WSMV-Nashville for “Radioactive Dumping.” This original investigation revealed that the state of Tennessee had, for 20 years, been allowing the dumping of low-level radioactive waste in ordinary landfills located around the state. They followed the story from the local level all the way to the national, including tracing the origin of much of the radioactive material. The pieces led to dramatic results, state government action and a moratorium on the dumping.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Channel 2 pulls plug on 'Volunteer Voters' political blog

Its last post was Friday, blogger A.C. Kleinheider wrote in a going-away message, ascribing the move to those "unfortunate media budget cuts you hear about all too often these days." An excerpt:

It has been quite a journey and if I said everything I feel in my heart to say I’d be here writing deep into the weekend and you’d probably stop reading after the 800th word. That said, I am very proud of what we cobbled together here. While there are always things that one looks back on with regret, with a wish to be able to go back and do things differently, that is, for the most part, not the case here. Not for me.

(Your chapter Webmaster was both a competitor and a fan of "V-Squared.")

Sunshine Week 2008 is here!

There's been lots of coverage in the local media of Sunshine Week so far, too much to list it all here. But here are some highlights:

An editorial from The Jackson Sun about proposed changes to the state's open government laws: For too long, public officials have been able to play fast and loose with the rules and deny the public access to important information. If we'd like to see anything more this year, it would be for language to be added to the law which would specifically open up e-mail records to public inspection. On the open meetings front, we'd like to see meetings where school superintendents' evaluations are discussed remain open. And we'd like to finally see substantial penalties adopted for those who knowingly choose to flout the law.

An editorial from The Commercial Appeal: Under Mayor Willie Herenton, Commercial Appeal reporter Trevor Aaronson reports in today's editions, access to public documents is a snap for those with political or business connections to city government. Requests for documents from the general public and the press, however, are met with a formal process that routes everything through a bottleneck at the City Attorney's Office and delays the flow.

An excerpt of an interview with John Seigenthaler in Sunday's Tennessean: People want to know and, indeed, need to know. When people talk to me about, "Is there a people's right to know?" — there is a people's need to know. And that need really cries out for openness in government.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Save the date! Chris Clark speaks to chapter luncheon March 28

WHO: Chris Clark, the longest-tenured news anchor in the Nashville market and the new chair holder of MTSU's John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies
WHAT: Luncheon speaker, SPJ Middle Tennessee Pro Chapter, hosted by the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 28, 2008
WHERE: Location TBA. Watch this blog for more details!
HOW: Register in advance to
Charge: $10 SPJ Members, other journalists and students; $15 all others.

Gore, Wikipedia founder, NYT deputy ME to speak at MTSU

Al Gore, Wikipedia chief Jimmy Wales, New York Times Deputy Managing Editor Jonathan Landman and journalism godfather John Seigenthaler will be among the luminaries visiting MTSU later this month for a conference titled “Accuracy, Privacy and the World Wide Web: The First Amendment and the Internet." Poynter chief Karen B. Dunlap, Media Bloggers Association prez Robert Cox and Cass Sunstein of 2.0 are coming, too. Here's the entire release:


Free Public Event Tackles ‘Accuracy, Privacy and the World Wide Web’

(MURFREESBORO)—Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore will be joined by speakers such as Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, author Cass Sunstein, First Amendment advocate John Seigenthaler and The New York Times’ Jonathan Landman at a Thursday, March 27, event at MTSU that explores the First Amendment and the Internet.

“Accuracy, Privacy and the World Wide Web: The First Amendment and the Internet” is free and open to the public. The event, sponsored by MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies, will be held in the Keathley University Center Theater.

“I am thrilled that Al Gore will be able to join us in this very important discussion about the Internet,” said Beverly Keel, director of the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence. “The Internet is the new century’s wild, wild West, an ever-changing world not bound by laws that apply to conventional broadcast and print media. We will examine the current Internet landscape, its evolution and effect on public and private figures. We will discuss how traditional concepts of the First Amendment have transitioned into the cyber age of blogs, YouTube and chat rooms.”

At 9:45 a.m., the daylong event will begin with Cass Sunstein, author of 2.0. He will discuss the Internet’s effect on democracy and self-government. At 10:25 a.m., veteran journalist John Seigenthaler will reveal his personal experiences with Wikipedia in “The Wonderful World of Wikipedia: Sinbad, Fuzzy Zoeller, Ann Coulter and Me.”

At 11:25 a.m., Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will discuss "The Future of Free Culture: Challenges, Changes, and Opportunities."

At 1 p.m., former Vice President Gore, a visiting distinguished professor at MTSU, will share his observations about the Internet. As both an early and leading proponent of the Internet and frequent subject of Internet blogs and news reports, he has a unique perspective on this technology.

At 1:45 p.m., Gore will be joined by Wales and Seigenthaler for an hourlong roundtable discussion.

At 4:20 p.m., a panel discussion will address bloggers, online defamation and the Internet’s impact on mainstream journalism. The panelists are Sunstein; Robert Cox, president, Media Bloggers Association; Dr. Karen B. Dunlap, president of The Poynter Institute; Landman, deputy managing editor of The New York Times; and attorney Charles Sizemore, who represents a couple who filed a lawsuit against bloggers for libel and invasion of privacy.

At 6 p.m., the “Frontline” documentary “Growing Up Online” will be shown. The location of this screening will be announced soon. It will be followed by “What Parents Should Know About the Internet,” a panel featuring educators (including Anna Benson of Metro Nashville Public Schools) and students that will be moderated by Dr. Becky Alexander, MTSU assistant professor of education.

For more information, contact Beverly Keel at

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

News-Sentinel's county commission coverage takes the big prize at Headliner Awards

The Knoxville paper won the Grand Prize in the print division and first place in the public service category at the National Headliner Awards for its work last year hammering at the Knox County Commission and its secret-meeting ways. (Link goes to KNS story about the award.)