Monthly Archives: May 2014

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.

Prom picture with guns stirs controversy

Every year, prom photos are a popular addition to the News Sentinel and its digital products. Usually, they’re just feel-good images that bring a smile. But occasionally, a picture triggers some controversy.

Cropping of controversial prom photo

Cropping of controversial photo

That was the case this year with a photo submitted by a Grainger County girl. Her gown had a “camo” pattern, and her date wore a matching vest. In keeping with that motif, the couple posed with a pair of rifles as the girl’s mom snapped photos.

The girl, a 17-year-old, then sent one of the photos to us, and we added it to our online gallery and put it on our Facebook page. The pose was whimsical and, we believed, unthreatening in attitude. But the reaction was considerable. “I was absolutely disgusted that you chose to feature a prom photo of kids with weapons,” wrote one reader. “I am never again purchasing your newspaper.” Several comments that could be taken as bullying toward the students were posted on our Facebook page — and deleted by us — and overnight Facebook sent us a message saying that the photo had been removed because it violated “community standards.”

The girl’s mother also called and requested that we remove the photo from our website. Our committee that handles “unpublish” requests met to weigh the factors, including the fact that the girl still was displaying one of the photos on her own Facebook page with the privacy setting on “public.” Because it was a minor who had submitted the photo, though, and because of the danger of bullying, we decided to pull the picture. It appears here in a radically cropped fashion that eliminates the firearms but gives a sense of the clothing pattern and the kids’ attitudes.

Trial lawyers honor Tom Humphrey

Tom Humphrey

Tom Humphrey

Tom Humphrey — the News Sentinel’s man in Nashville, dean of the Capitol press corps and prolific state government blogger — was honored over the weekend by the Southeast chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

The inscription on the silver Journalist of the Year plaque said it was “for demonstrating the highest level of integrity, for unique contributions to the public welfare, and for distinguished service in print journalism.”

This year’s awards dinner concluded a conference in Nashville that featured former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, nine state supreme court justices, four federal judges, and several nationally prominent attorneys as presenters. Sen. Fred Thompson was the keynote speaker at the awards dinner.

“Tom Humphrey was chosen as the Print Journalist of the Year because of his spotless reputation integrity and the consistent high quality of his work for so many years on the Hill,” said attorney Wayne Ritchie, president of Tennessee chapter of SEABOTA. “His dedication is unmatched.  He has a sharp eye for the truth and an uncanny sense of politics.  As one of his co-workers put it:  ‘the truth is that Tom is, has been and remains the most upright, conscientious, hardworking journalist ever to work on Capitol Hill.’ For more than 30 years, Tom Humphrey has been the best of the best at bringing Tennessee politics to light.  The depth and character of Tom’s work is becoming increasingly rare.  It’s vital that his brand of traditional journalism endures and thrives as a check and balance on what goes on at the state capitol.  The award is most deserved.”

SEABOTA is made up of trial lawyers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Western North Carolina, and Virginia.

Jamie Satterfield, the News Sentinel’s courts reporter, was similarly honored in 2009.

‘Astro-Graph’ horoscope columnist retiring

Horrors! Our horoscope writer is retiring.

After more than four decades of star-gazing, Bernice Bede Osol, creator of the News Sentinel’s daily “Astro-Graph” column, will be looking at a different future.

Eugenia Last

Eugenia Last

This from the Universal Uclick syndicate’s announcement:

“For those of you keeping track, Osol’s career has seen two transits of Venus, approximately 112 solar eclipses and 104 lunar eclipses, the demotion of a planet and thousands upon thousands of celestial prognostications.”

Come June 9, the “Astro-Graph” column will be written by another legend among newspaper astrologers: Eugenia Last, author of the widely syndicated “Last Word in Astrology.”
In taking over “Astro-Graph,” Last will be applying her own approach to astrology, which she describes as “first a mathematical science and second an interpretive art.”

TSSAA must obey open-government laws

In a big win for transparency, an appeals court ruled Thursday that the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association must abide by the state’s open-government laws.

Appeals Court Judge Frank G. Clement Jr.

Appeals Court Judge Frank G. Clement Jr.

Appeals Court Judge Frank G. Clement Jr. agreed with a lower court ruling that the TSSAA, which runs high school sports in the state, is the “functional equivalent” of a government agency. That means it must follow the state Public Records Act and Open Meetings Law.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in 2012 after TSSAA refused to show The City Paper in Nashville records involving the tuition for athletes at Montgomery Bell Academy.

The “functional equivalency” standard comes into play when governments outsource some of their activities to other organizations. Tennessee courts have held that those organizations must also follow the open-government laws.

Clement found that the “historical relationship” between the TSSAA and the state Board of Education showed that the state had delegated its responsibility to regulate high school sports to the non-profit organization.

“A governmental agency cannot, intentionally or unintentionally, avoid its disclosure obligations under the Act by contractually delegating its responsibilities to a private entity,” Clement wrote in his decision quoting from a previous Tennessee Supreme Court ruling.

With the TSSAA dealing with many issues of public concern – such concussions, recruiting of athletes and marketing of sports events – this is really good news for advocates of openness.