Sensible resolution to cameras-in-courtroom dispute

I’m glad we had a simple resolution to the cameras-in-the-courtroom issue that arose with Clarence “Eddie” Pridemore, Knox County’s newest chancellor. Pridemore’s election sparked controversy because he knocked off a widely respected incumbent, Daryl Fansler, in an election that had little to do with credentials and much to do with partisanship.

Knox County Chancery Court Judge Clarence "Eddie" Pridemore.

Knox County Chancellor Clarence “Eddie” Pridemore.

Notice posted on Chancellor Pridemore's courtroom door.

Notice posted on Pridemore’s courtroom door.

Pridemore’s ascension to office was newsworthy, so last week the News Sentinel filed a request to use cameras in the courtroom during his first day on the bench according to the Supreme Court’s “Rule 30.” Under the rule, these requests are to be granted unless one of the parties involved believes the photography will undermine the decorum or safety of the courtroom. If that happens, the judge is to hold a hearing, if possible, before issuing a ruling.

In this case, however, Chancellor Pridemore just sent an unsigned order through the clerk and master’s office saying cameras wouldn’t be permitted in his courtroom all week. We contacted our attorney, Rick Hollow, and he began working through Clerk and Master Howard Hogan to get the decision reversed. If Pridemore had stuck to his position, Hollow would have sought a hearing on the matter. We and WBIR-TV were prepared to appeal, if necessary.

Happily, though, Pridemore had a notice posted on his courtroom door this morning saying that cameras were to be permitted. I’d hoped for such an outcome. We didn’t want to pick a legal fight with the new chancellor his first day on the bench, but at the same time we had to stand up for the Rule 30 process.

News Sentinel losing Scripps lighthouse, but light will shine on

More than three dozen years ago I started my career with the E.W. Scripps Co. at the newspaper where the company’s logo and motto originated.
The lighthouse and “Give light and the people will find their own way” were the creations of

Scripps Lighthouse

Scripps lighthouse

Carl Magee, the crusading journalist whose weekly Independent evolved into The Albuquerque Tribune. He used the logo and the motto on his column during the early days of New Mexico’s statehood.
Magee did great investigative work, helping break the Teapot Dome scandal, which sent Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall to prison. When Scripps bought The Trib in 1923, E.W. liked the icons so much he put them on all of his newspapers.
Last week, the E.W. Scripps Co. announced a merger with Journal Communications Inc. The Scripps newspapers and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will be spun off into a new company called Journal Media Group. Meanwhile, the E.W. Scripps Co. will become a pure-play broadcaster, operating all the TV and radio stations.
The lighthouse will live on, but I, and my News Sentinel colleagues, will be bidding it farewell. I’m excited, though, about the future of the new company and the News Sentinel’s role in it.
Journal Media Group will be a very healthy corporation. It will have no debt or pension obligations — those stay with Scripps. Its revenue will be about half a billion dollars a year, and it will produce a very solid profit out of that.
“One of the benefits is having as much financial flexibility as one could hope for starting out as a new public company,” said Tim Stautberg, who will be president and CEO of Journal Media. Stautberg now runs Scripps’ newspaper division, so we are familiar with his leadership, which consistently focuses on the special role our newspapers play “in helping each community grow stronger and be a better place to live, work and play.”
Within that new company, the News Sentinel will be one of the most important properties. Over the past several years, we’ve been either first or second among Scripps newspapers in revenue and profit. We’ll be one of the big players in Journal Media.
We’ll have a new big sister, though. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is one of America’s great newspapers. It has won three Pulitzer Prizes since 2008, two for local investigative reporting. The new company will be headquartered in its market.
“In Milwaukee we have the flagship newspaper of the portfolio,” said Stautberg. “It made the most sense financially and I think spiritually to base this new company in Milwaukee.”
He is optimistic about the future of the business.
“We’re in a business that matters and will continue to matter,” he said. “What we’ll do in our newsrooms and what we will do with our sales professionals and the others throughout our buildings are special things, unique in each of our markets.”
The News Sentinel has had a long relationship with Knoxville, dating back to the founding of the Sentinel in 1886. Scripps launched the Knoxville News in 1921, and the two papers merged in 1926.
The News Sentinel will fulfill its mission of giving light in Knoxville for years to come — even if the lighthouse logo is gone.

New website highlights Scripps digital news initiatives

Among its new features, the redesigned website spotlights content from two of the E.W. Scripps Co.’s national digital initiatives.

One is DecodeDC, produced in the Scripps Washington bureau. The project began as a series of podcasts by founder Andrea Seabrook, who joined Scripps after several years at NPR, where she was Congressional correspondent and hosted Weekend All Things Considered. Its mission now has broadened to become a multimedia narrative tool to “help Americans understand how crucial political issues affect everyday life.”

Scene from DecodeDC's explanation of a lame duck.

Scene from DecodeDC’s explanation of a lame duck.

Decode DC isn’t afraid to put some attitude and humor in its reports, as reflected in a series of “exit interviews” of outgoing members of Congress and a recent video explaining lame ducks featured on today.

Another initiative is Newsy, a multisource video news service. Scripps acquired the Columbia, Mo.-based startup late last year. Chairman Rich Boehne describes it as “a next-generation news network designed and built exclusively for digital audiences.”

The two projects are part of Scripps’ strategy to build a national news brand that enhances local content and captures a slice of the broader digital news audience.

New website up and running

Our new website launched about 5:30 p.m. today. So far, so good. No crashes!

The site has an entirely new look. For one thing, the black background that was so controversial when we launched our old version, is now gone. This is a standard black-type-on-white-background look, which I prefer.

A big difference is the site’s “responsive design,” which means the display adjusts to the device being used. There are desktop, tablet and smartphone presentations. The real benefit is on the smartphone, which, of course, is the most ubiquitous screen. The old mobile version of was pretty much just a list of headlines. This version is much more graphically rich.

The new site also combines our three websites:, and into one, although and will retain their domain names.

Just before the switch, I did a screen grab of the old site on my iPad, to save for posterity. It is displayed here, along with a very early display of the new site.

Old version of on July 22, 2014

Old version of site on July 22, 2014

New version of site on July 22, 2014

New version of site on July 22, 2014

News Sentinel launching redesigned website

Visitors to the News Sentinel often comment on our “new” building, even though it has been 12 years since we moved in. Happily, our space off Western Avenue is still sharp and shiny, just like new.
Things change more quickly in the world of technology than in the realm of real estate, however. Our “new” website was launched in 2007, when about 10 million Americans had smartphones and digital tablets were still on Steve Jobs’ drawing board.
Today, two-thirds of Americans rely on smartphones, and there are some 100 million tablets in use in the U.S.
In response to this shift, the News Sentinel next week is rolling out a new website designed with the mobile Internet in mind.
The site will have a whole new look that will display perfectly on smartphones, tablets and desktop computers alike. It uses a technology called “responsive design,” which means that will know what sort of device you are using and adjust to match.
For the first time, too, readers will be able comment on stories using mobile devices.
Overall, the site has a cleaner, simpler look. The navigation is easier, with quick access to weather information linking to a 12-day forecast and weather alerts.
The search function, which admittedly had problems as our old site aged, should be much improved once all of our archived stories move onto the new website and are indexed. Unfortunately, because we are switching to a new commenting system, we won’t be able to transfer the comments attached to those old stories.
One thing I especially like about the new site is its livelier, more-visual presentation. Photos, videos and slideshows are highlighted. The site also pulls together all the elements of stories – text, pictures, videos, maps and graphics – into integrated packages for easy reading.
The News Sentinel’s special franchise content will be readily available, too.
In the past, Vols coverage and information about things to do were on our separate and websites. Now that content will be built right into the site, although those other domain names still will exist.
The launch is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. As in the past, some of the content on the new site will be available to all visitors, while subscribers will have access to the entire site and be able to comment on stories, as well.
If you are a subscriber, when you try to access premium content for the first time or comment on a story, you will be asked to log in. Simply type in your account user name and password. Often the user name is your email address, and if you have forgotten your password, no worries. There will be a link to help you recover it.
When you begin exploring the new site, try putting your cursor on the “Sections” button on the top navigation bar. You’ll then see the links to GoVolsXtra, and all of our other content areas. Check out the “helpful links” box, too, for direct links to read obituaries, sign up for a subscription or reach the newsroom.
We believe in East Tennessee, and we’re very excited to be making this investment in the future of news and information in the Knoxville area.
This is our new digital home, and we are eager to welcome you to it. Visit as soon as you can.

Digital guide to Tennessee Vols on sale now

Tennessee Football 2014

Tennessee Football 2014

The News Sentinel’s latest iBook, “Tennessee Football 2014,” is now on sale. The preseason price is $0.99.

This interactive guide to this year’s Vol team features more than 400 photos, an introductory video, links to players and coaches’ Twitter accounts, an Instagram feed, profiles, schedules and more.

The book will be updated as the Vols’ season unfolds.

There’s a direct link to purchase the book in iTunes, and it also can be found by searching in the iBooks store.

Sam Venable picked for Journalism Hall of Fame

Sam Venable

Sam Venable

The News Sentinel’s metro columnist, Sam Venable, was tapped for the 2014 class of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, which operates in partnership with Middle Tennessee State University. He’ll be inducted in a ceremony on Aug. 12 in Murfreesboro.

Other members of the class are Alex S. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner from The New York Times; Bob Johnson, co-anchor of WTVC in Chattanooga; Luther Masingill of WDEF Radio in Chattanooga; Joe Birch, news anchor of WMC-TV in Memphis, and Otis Sanford, former managing editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.


News Sentinel expanding ‘things to do’ coverage

For years, we’ve tried to make the News Sentinel’s section and website the place to go for information on movies, music, restaurants, nightlife, the arts and other entertainment in the metro area.

More recently, the Facebook page has taken off, reaching some quarter-million people each week with its content.

Now, we’re expanding the concept further to include more family activities. logoStarting June 9, a “Go. See. Do.” list will appear on the front of every day’s features section, offering a look ahead at the cool, quirky and compelling happenings in our fair burg. The list will include entertainment happenings plus family-friendly activities, especially those that won’t break the bank.

The info will be available on our mobile apps and website first thing every morning, too.

While adding to our things-to-do coverage, we’re also updating the lineup of our features sections to bring readers some fresh content themes. Starting June 9, the line-up will be:

Mondays: “Dollars & Sense” becomes “Tech,” with stories and features about the latest gadgets, digital applications and scientific discoveries. The popular Motley Fool feature, which combines the worlds of Internet and investing, will continue to appear in the section.

Tuesdays: “Learning” switches to “Health,” with a focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and on medical trends and breakthroughs.

Wednesdays: “Food” moves to this day of the week so that readers can get an earlier jump on weekend recipes and grocery planning. The section will still include food writer Mary Constantine’s columns and articles about the latest from local cooks and restaurants, along with Coupon Katie’s weekly money-saving column. Additionally, home delivery subscribers will get the Shopper News weekly newspaper with their Wednesday News Sentinel, rather than as part of their Monday delivery.

Thursdays: “YourNews” will now appear on Thursday, continuing to provide information about neighborhoods, community events and the achievements of everyday people. The monthly Exceptional Educator series, which had been running on the Learning page, moves to the YourNews section.

Fridays: The “Get Active” section remains unchanged, offering features on local gardeners, outdoor activities and the popular Hike of the Month. But Friday’s magazine will add a “Family” page listing fun things to do for the whole gang. We’ll also highlight budget-friendly ideas and suggest special nights out for Mom and Dad.

Saturdays: The theme will continue to be “Faith & Family,” but family finance guru Dave Ramsey’s column, which had been running on Dollars & Sense, joins the lineup of information about family activities and worship life.

Sundays: “Life” will continue to be our biggest section of the week, with a mix of arts coverage, books, travel and more. Joe Rosson’s “About Antiques” column will move from its Monday spot into the Sunday section.

Knoxnews features psychology column by Phil Kronk

Philip Kronk, a semi-retired psychologist, has been writing a weekly online-only column for the News Sentinel for the past couple of months. I’ve found it really interesting.

Dr. Phillip Kronk

Dr. Philip Kronk

Kronk has dealt with a variety of psychological issues including hoarding, “perfect” parents, super heroes and marijuana. Most recently, he has been looking at how different types of American families address the issues of security and self-esteem. He already has profiled the “achieving family.” Coming soon: the “conventional family,” the “unconventional family,” and the “quiet” family.

Kronk has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Tennessee and a post-doctoral degree in clinical psychopharmacology from Fairleigh Dickenson University. He has taught at UT and at Pellissippi State and has published on a variety of professional topics.

In talking with him, I also discovered he is one of the few people I’ve met in Knoxville who have lived in Cochise County, Arizona, where the Indian Wars in America ended with the capture of Geronimo and where I started my newspaper career in the remote border town of Douglas lo these many years ago.

Kronk’s column is easy to find by entering his name in the search box. He is open to suggestions on topics of future columns and can be contacted at

New York Times roots lie in post-Civil War Knoxville

The reason Jill Abramson was fired as editor of The New York Times emerged over the weekend. Dylan Byers of Politico reported that she had failed to keep Managing Editor Dean Baquet in the loop about plans to hire Janine Gibson of the Guardian as co-managing editor.
Worse, perhaps, she also misled Arthur Sulzberger Jr. on the matter. That, apparently, was the last straw for The Times publisher, who issued a statement saying, in part: “During her tenure, I heard repeatedly from her newsroom colleagues, women and men, about a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues. I discussed these issues with Jill herself several times and warned her that, unless they were addressed, she risked losing the trust of both masthead and newsroom.”

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

With Sulzberger and The Times making news themselves, it’s an opportunity to remember their Knoxville roots, and the role a Knoxvillian played in establishing modern American journalism. Sulzberger is the great-grandson of Adolph Ochs, who bought the paper in 1896. The Times has been in the hands of the Ochs-Sulzberger family ever since. The Ochs’ family came to Knoxville just after the Civil War, and Adolph, the oldest son, landed a job at age 11 with Capt. William Rule, publisher of the Knoxville Chronicle, a Republican successor to Parson Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig. Young Ochs impressed Rule, who later was quoted as saying: “’He swept my sanctum and cleaned up the papers and trash so methodically that he was promoted to delivery boy.” Before long, Ochs was promoted again, to “printer’s devil,” the boy who did odd jobs in the composing room.

Adolph Ochs

Adolph Ochs

As a teenager, Ochs left Knoxville to work in Louisville, but he soon returned and went to work at the new Knoxville Tribune. There he worked as a reporter and as an assistant to the business manager. In 1877, Ochs departed Knoxville again, this time for Chattanooga, to sell advertising for the new Chattanooga Dispatch. The venture failed, however, and Ochs ended up handling the receivership of The Dispatch. Then, to make ends meet, he launched Chattanooga’s first city directory. He was running that enterprise when he was offered the chance to buy the struggling Chattanooga Times. With less than $40 to his name, he borrowed $250 for a half-interest in the paper and became its publisher in 1878. Over the next several years, Ochs built up the newspaper, eventually buying full control. He operated on the editorial principles of independence and objectivity, which was not common in the business in that era. When he hired L. G. Walker as editor, Ochs told him: “Your only policy is to have no policy — no policy, that is, except to be right.” As Chattanooga grew, so did the Times and Ochs’ reputation.

In 1896, a friend in New York contacted Ochs about buying The New York Times, which had been in a long period of decline and was selling only 9,000 copies a day. Ochs had long wanted to break into the New York market, so he pursued the deal. After some maneuvering, he took ownership of the paper later that year. His first move was to cut the price of the paper to 1 cent. More importantly, though, he also began applying the principle of independence that had succeeded in Chattanooga. When city hall, run the by Tammany ring, offered The Times all the city’s advertising, he turned it down, and when the Republican National Committee wanted to buy a million copies of an edition containing a favorable editorial, he refused.

The rest is history. The formula succeeded. New Yorkers decided they liked an inexpensive but credible newspaper. By the 1920’s, its circulation had reached 780,000, making The New York Times the nation’s leading newspaper, and objectivity had become the standard of American journalism.