Monthly Archives: February 2006

Prize-winning photo that never was printed

We got word today that a photo by Saul Young of our staff was named 2005 Photo of the Year by the Tennessee Associated Press. The unusual thing about the picture was that it never was printed in the News Sentinel.
The image was of a rescuer helping two people trapped in a small plane that had crashed and was suspended in trees near Skyranch Airport in South Knox County. The face of the pilot, 52-year-old Pat Young, was clearly visible as he waited grimly in the cockpit.
The picture was posted on before Young’s ultimate fate was known. But later, when the newspaper learned that the pilot had died as he was being lowered from the trees, the decision was made not to publish the photo in the printed edition. To do so seemed intrusive and, perhaps, disrespectful of the man, whose final moments of life just happened to be captured by a journalist’s camera.
Nonetheless, the picture is a powerful news photograph, and Saul, a genuinely nice guy and a talented shooter who worked hard on the assignment, deserved the honored.
You can see the photo on the AP’s Web site.
You also can check out more of Saul’s work on

To poll or not to poll

We stumbled over a poll story the other day, reporting that exit polls showed Fatah winning the Palestinian elections. Wrong! Hamas blew Fatah away (no sick pun intended).
Polls have been problematic for newspapers since Dewey beat Truman. Having said that, we will probably do some polling again this election year in cooperation with the Institute for Social Science Research at UT. The institute has been very accurate in the past, even if some candidates didn’t like the results.
Polls may be controversial. But if you believe in the validity of scientific surveying — and I do — they are an honest reflection of what people are thinking about public affairs. That makes them news in my book.
Any suggestions for poll questions? Let me know.

Jesus and Muhammad

A wise editor once told me that a newspaper should act as an invited guest in a person’s home. Offensive words and gestures are taboo. There are some terms you just won’t read in the News Sentinel.
Of course, foul language is only one way of offending, as newspapers in Denmark have reminded the world recently.
Muslims are particularly sensitive about portrayals of Muhammed because Islam is interpreted as forbidding illustrations of the prophet in the belief they might lead to idoltry. Christianity, of course, has no such strictures against artwork depicting Christ. But disrepectful presentations of Jesus are a surefire way to offend. Witness the furor over WBIR’s broadcast of The Book of Daniel TV show..
Recently, the News Sentinel ran a Brevity cartoon showing a Christ-like figure walking across the street from the 99-cent Store to the 98-cent Store. The two-word caption said: “Jesus saves.” The complaints weren’t voluminous, but they were heartfelt. A couple of years earlier, I triggered a real firestorm by allowing an A1 story and photo about a campus play in which a character based on Jesus was portrayed as gay.
Free expression is a crucial right in an open society. I salute the officials in Denmark who are standing up for the principle. But a newspaper that fails to understand and respect what readers hold sacred does so at its own risk — and may be wishing for some Christian charity itself.

The newspaper world according to Gavin

Gavin O’Reilly, president of the World Association of Newspapers, made a strong case for the future of newspapers to brokers and corporate bankers at a dinner in London last month.
Print’s not dead, he said. In fact, it’s kicking butt.
The link is to a PowerPoint, but for folks interested in the industry’s really big — as in global — picture it offers an interesting perspective.

Speaking of reuse …

Some folks in the newsroom were startled the other day to see an e-mail from the Van Hilleary campaign. “Knoxville News Sentinel reports Van’s in the lead,” the release stated.
It went on to say:
“On Saturday, the Knoxville News Sentinel and WBIR, the Knoxville NBC affiliate, released a poll showing that Van Hilleary remains the most popular candidate in this U.S. Senate race.”
Well, that’s not exactly what the story, or the poll, said. The survey showed Hilleary with the highest name recognition and the highest “favorable” and “unfavorable” ratings among the GOP candidates. Democrat Harold Ford had slightly higher name recognition and the same “favorable” rating but more “unfavorable” responses.
Here’s the Hilleary release
Here’s the News Sentinel story.

Intellectual property rights and wrongs

The buzz in the newsroom today was over a general e-mail asking folks to report instances of News Sentinel material being used by other media outlets without attribution. Responses instantly poured in from reporters complaining about hearing their stories read verbatim on radio and TV stations without the least acknowledgement of the source of the information.
I well remember my first week as a reporter, lo these many years ago, at the illustrious Douglas (Arizona) Daily Dispatch. I was driving in the old Rambler my grandfather had handed down to me when I heard my own words being read, without attribution, by the one-man news staff of the town’s only radio station. I was amused, even a bit flattered.
But frankly, it gets old.
The News Sentinel doesn’t mind other outlets spreading the news it collects. We’re not going to hunt down clip-and-read culprils. But we would ask them to give credit where credit is due a bit more often.
End of whine.