Newspaper coalition broadens access to statehouse coverage

Readers might be noticing a label they haven’t seen in the News Sentinel for a few years. It is the logo of the Tennessee Newspaper Network, a stylized representation of press rollers arranged to signify the locations of four Tennessee cities — Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville.

Tennessee Newspaper Network logo

Tennessee Newspaper Network logo

The TNN is a consortium of the newspapers in those cities, respectively: The Commercial Appeal, The Tennessean, the Times Free Press and the News Sentinel. We started working together in 2009 to provide our readers with more in-depth coverage of statewide issues.

One major project we did was the surveying of the gubernatorial candidates in 2010. Eight big issues — such as guns, taxes, social issues and the environment — were examined in detail, and a shared website was created where voters could compare candidates head-to-head on any mix of positions. We also conducted statewide polling and cooperated on reporting on campaign finances.

But after the 2010 election other news took precedence, new editors came on board in Memphis, Chattanooga and Nashville, and the TNN’s activity waned.

Late last year, though, the editors and managing editors from the four newspapers met in Nashville to look for ways to rekindle the collaboration. The goal is to do less pack journalism and more enterprise. Last Sunday’s package previewing the legislative session was the first result, and readers can expect more over the next several months.

One change since five years ago is that all four papers now require subscriptions for complete access to their websites. In order to follow coverage of the legislature in all four cities, a reader would have to have subscriptions to all four newspapers.

But as part of the TNN collaboration, the four papers will be posting the full text of stories from all of the members’ capitol bureau reporters. So you now can go to Knoxnews.com to read complete coverage of the Legislature from The Tennessean, The Commercial Appeal and the Times Free Press, as well as from the News Sentinel.