Monthly Archives: March 2011

Snuffy Smith now News Sentinel fan

SnuffyReadingPaperColor.jpgWhen he heard we were returning Snuffy Smith to the comics page, John Rose, creator of the strip, sent this drawing of his character enjoying his restoration.
The plan we’re now looking at would eliminate two panels that did poorly in our survey — “Brevity” and “Argyle Sweater” — and rejuggle the page to allow room for Snuffy without eliminating any of the strips we just started.

Was flower potty a Page 1 story?

toilet1_t607.jpgThe hot debate at Wednesday’s news meeting was whether to make a story about a toilet/planter the front page centerpiece of Thursday’s paper. The article and accompanying photo described Oak Ridger William Terry;s fight with city hall over whether he could use an old commode as a flower pot in his front yard. He’d been cited for “accumulation of rubbish” and was disputing the citation.
Some of our editors thought the story was too trivial and juvenile to feature on Page 1. Others thought it was interesting and raised public policy questions involving property rights and individual liberty. Also, the photo was better than any other choice we had. I went with story because I believe the newspaper risks making itself dull by being too cautious, and I thought the story would resonate with readers.
It did. It was one of our most popular online articles today, attracting 77 comments as of this writing (almost of which were entirely civil). Among the comments, though, was an exchange about whether or not the story’s play was appropriate:
Joevol72#336723: “Wait wait wait…. THIS is front page news worthy?!”
AuntTilly: “Yes, it is. The article is interesting and informative. Why did you read it?”
Joevol72#336723: I read it because it was on the front page, not because it was newsworthy. With all that COULD have been front page news this morning, this doesn’t deserve to be.”
News judgment is not a science.

‘Rosy’s Diner’ looking for good recipes

My favorite Knoxville eatery exists only in the mind of News Sentinel cartoonist Charlie Daniel. It’s Rosy’s Diner, of course. But Rosy is coming to life over the next few weeks as Mary Constantine, the paper’s food writer, asks readers to submit their recipes for the imaginary menu.
If you’ve got just the dish for the diner, send it to or mail to Mary Constantine, Rosy’s Recipe Contest, 2332 News Sentinel Drive, Knoxville, TN 37921. Include a daytime phone number, a home address and an email address
The deadline to enter the contest is midnight April 13. The winner will get a $50 gift certificate to Food City and an original drawing of Rosy requesting recipes, autographed by the very real Mr. Daniel.

If Snuffy Smith returns, who goes?

I got a wonderful letter from the creator of the “Snuffy Smith” comic, attached here as an extended entry. It, combined with many calls and emails from readers, has pretty much persuaded me to bring back Snuffy. The question is, what do I take out? edison_edison.jpgdeflocked_mamet.jpgnate.jpgkl_keith.jpg
“The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee,” “Deflocked,” “Big Nate,” or “The Knight Life?”

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We know Howard Baker is from Tennessee

We had an embarrassing goof in Georgiana Vines’ recent story about the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. The story identified Baker as being from Huntsville, Ala.
howardbaker.jpgThat’s wrong, of course. The favorite son is from Huntsville, Tennessee. Georgiana, our retired associate editor who continues to write a column on politics, knows that and originally identified Baker as being simply from Huntsville. Often, if a city is in Tennessee, we don’t include the state after it. An editor on our city desk moved the story along without changing the reference. But an inexperienced copy editor made a bad assumption and added “Ala.” after Huntsville.
In the future, we’ll probably include “Tenn.” after references to the Huntsville that gave Tennessee, and the nation, one of its greatest statesmen.

Knoxville News Sentinel launches iPad edition

Our new iPad E-Edition is in the app store, though it’s still a Beta version, so we won’t officially announce its launch for a couple of weeks.
The app is a replica of the print edition, but it has some neat interactive features. You tap a story to zoom in, or tap with two fingers to switch modes. The links to websites and e-mail addresses are hot, so you can launch them with the touch of a finger. And the app retains several editions, so you can go back if you miss a day.
Within a couple of weeks, we will begin including videos and photo galleries with each day’s edition. They, too, will be launched with a finger tap. After that, we plan to add an RSS feed so the app will include breaking news in addition to the news from the print edition.
Right now the app is free to anyone who wants to check it out. Within a couple of months, though, it will be available only to readers who have some level of print subscription. If you have have an iPad and get a chance, check it out. It takes a while to load the first time, but it’s quicker after that. Then let us know what you think.

News Sentinel iPad edition

News Sentinel iPad edition

News Sentinel cancelling ‘Snuffy Smith’

The results of our latest comics survey are in, and they weren’t good for “Snuffy Smith,” the long-running strip about an Appalachian hillbilly and his clan.
bgoogle_snuffy.jpgStarting Monday, Snuffy will be gone from the comics pages along with four other strips: “Dustin,” “Monty,” “Curtis” and “Rose is Rose.” They’ll be replaced by four new comics: “Big Nate,” “Deflocked,” “The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee” and “Knight Life.” By popular demand, we also are bringing back “Baldo,” which we cancelled last year.
I expect Snuffy to be the most controversial of the changes, because the comic has been around so long and because it has a regional theme. My Sunday column, which follows as an extended entry, reflects on the history of the old hillbilly.

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WikiLeaks conference this evening at Baker Center

I’m participating in a conference this evening called “WikiLeaks: Transparency or Menace to Global Governance?” It starts at 6 p.m. at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy on the University of Tennessee campus.
wikileaksashe1e_t120.jpgThe moderator will be University of Tennessee journalism professor Dwight Teeter. Joining me on the panel will be Ben Bates, a UT media professor; David Brule, a UT political science professor, and Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and ambassador to Poland. Some of Ashe’s secret cables were leaked by WikiLeaks.
The program is free and open to the public.
My focus, naturally, will be on how WikiLeaks’ handling of information compares to the actions of traditional media, especially newspapers. For a long time, newspapers have cherished rulings that limited government’s ability to stop newspapers from publishing material in their possession, even if that material wasn’t supposed to be in their possession.
The Pentagon Papers case is the landmark in the field. Locally, the News Sentinel faced off with Judge Richard Baumgartner over records leaked in the Zoo Man Huskey case. But should the same “prior restraint” protections apply to WikiLeaks’ data dumps? Should be an interesting discussion.

UT’s use of federal privacy rules are Catch-22

The University of Tennessee released another version of the Notice of Allegations the NCAA issued against the Vol athletic department. The new version no longer omits entire sections of the report. Instead, it blacks out all the information in those sections.
The university if basing the redactions on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — FERPA. The law says student records are private. The Catch-22 is that the law prohibits releasing information if the identity of the student involved is “easily traceable” based on other information. UT makes the argument that, because the recruiting violations have been widely covered in the media, tracing the identity of the students involved is easier, so “the University was required to redact more information than what you may consider typical in order to ‘de-identify’ students in compliance with FERPA.”
It’s likely that a hunk of the deleted material deals with the involvement of UT’s Orange Price hostess organization in recruiting. But there is no mention of Orange Pride in either redacted document.

Photo of injured officer triggers complaint

We received a sharp complaint from Cody Shell about the photo we ran of Police Officer Andrew Olsen being helped after he was shot during a traffic stop last week:
“Let me begin by saying, I have seen some outrageous things on the KnoxNews Website, but none of them were horrendous enough for me to say something about. Until now. This is unacceptable. As a fellow Public Safety Official in Knox County, I feel that it is my duty to say something. The picture in the article linked above is beyond distasteful. The picture I am speaking of is the photo of wounded KPD Ofc. Andrew Olson that was taken by a Mr. John Messner. The same photo that he can profit from if someone decides to by an 8×10. You are profiting from the injury of one of the courageous men that works on the streets of this dangerous city every day. This photo is not only in poor taste, it is also disgraceful that someone would even post that. The picture is not relevant to the article. Please remove this atrocity from your site.”
This was my response to him, which I said I would post on this blog with his complaint:
“Thank you for your note. I realize we will likely disagree on this, but I understand that you have a heartfelt concern, and I want to respond.
“As a newspaper, we believe it is vitally important to bring news to readers in a way that lets them understand what is happening. That often means understanding at an emotional level as well as an intellectual one. A story that dryly recorded that a policeman was shot would touch readers at one level. A dramatic photo that showed the human impact of such an attack would allow them to understand what happened at a much deeper level.
“As journalists, we are not wishing to invade privacy when we record the heroism of public servants in a way that drives home to our readers the full meaning of their everyday courage, as this photo did. We mean no disrespect. In fact, we consider it to be an act of respect that we would give significant coverage to such an important news event and make every effort to deliver to the public a vivid depiction of the risks our law enforcement officials take on behalf of all of us.
“As to the sale of the photo, the ‘buy this photo’ link automatically appears with every photo on our website. I will grant that, at times, that may seem insensitive, but right now it is the only way we can routinely make available to readers the photos they might want — a copy of: a child at a sporting event, a lovely Knoxville scene or a record of an accomplishment. I doubt that anyone would want to buy a copy of a serious news photos of this sort. ”