Category Archives: Media

Glenn Reynolds column suspended over tweet

From the News Sentinel
The University of Tennessee is investigating a tweet by one of its law professors after the faculty member and contributing columnist for USA TODAY and the News Sentinel urged motorists to run over demonstrators blocking traffic in Charlotte, N.C.

The USA TODAY editorial page editor, meanwhile, said Glenn Reynolds had violated the newspaper’s standards and Reynold’s twice-a-week column would be suspended for a month.

“I didn’t live up to my own standards, and I didn’t meet USA TODAY’s standards,” Reynolds said in a statement on the USA TODAY website. “For that I apologize, to USA TODAY readers and to my followers on social media.”

Twitter briefly suspended Reynolds’ account after he responded to a tweet from a TV news station in Charlotte that showed protesters on Interstate 277. “Run them down,” he wrote.

Reynolds, the creator of the Instapundit blog, tweets from the handle @Instapundit.

He posted to Twitter shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday that his account had been unblocked after he agreed to delete the offending tweet.

Jones Media Group sold to Minnesota company

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A fourth-generation family-owned media company with newspapers in Tennessee and North Carolina has been purchased by a Minneapolis company.

According to a joint news release from The Adams Publishing Group and Greeneville-based Jones Media, the transaction closed on Thursday for an undisclosed amount.

Tennessee newspapers that are part of the sale include The Greeneville Sun, The Daily Post-Athenian, The Daily Times, The Newport Plain Talk, The Rogersville Review, the News-Herald, The Connection, The Advocate & Democrat, and The Herald-News. North Carolina papers include the Watauga Democrat, The Mountain Times, Ashe Mountain Times, The Avery Journal-Times, and The Blowing Rocket.

Gregg Jones will continue as president and CEO of Jones Media and will succeed his late father, John M. Jones III, as publisher of The Greeneville Sun.

Tennessean to sell home property, relocate

The Tennessean is putting its longtime offices up for sale, as the media company considers a new downtown Nashville home better suited for its expanding digital operation.

So reports The Tennessean. Further:

Though no sales price has been named, the 10-acre property at 1100 Broadway covers a full city block adjacent to the booming Gulch neighborhood and is expected to fetch a sizable price for The Tennessean’s parent company, Gannett Co. Inc.

Laura Hollingsworth, president of The Tennessean and USA TODAY Network –Tennessee, said plans call for moving the news, business and sales operations to a yet-to-be-identified space in Nashville.

With more technology, open and collaborative spaces and specialized work areas, that new location would align more closely with the multimedia company’s digital focus, she said.

“We believe this to be critical to our continued success and growth,” Hollingsworth said, adding that the newspaper’s current location was built for the manufacturing era.

Commercial real estate firm CBRE is handling listing of the property’s three adjacent parcels, totaling roughly 435,600 square feet of land area. The site could draw strong interest considering that there are only a few large developable tracts in the downtown area, but real estate observers also see a limited number of potential suitors that could afford it.

Sullivan County pays $50K to settle prison newspaper lawsuit

Sullivan County has agreed to pay Prison Legal News $50,000 to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department was censoring and refusing to deliver publications and newsletters to inmates, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

Prison Legal News is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, a Florida-based nonprofit organization whose mission is public education, prisoner education, advocacy and outreach in support of prisoners’ rights.

PLN filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville in October 2013 naming the county, the sheriff’s department and Sheriff Wayne Anderson as the defendants.

PLN claims the department has been censoring and refusing to deliver its material to inmates held at the jail, including hundreds of copies of its monthly journal and dozens of copies of informational brochure packs.

The Sullivan County Jail used to have a postcards-only mail policy with all other mail, except legal mail, to be returned to sender. No packages were allowed unless approved by the jail’s facility administrator.

…Sullivan County Attorney Dan Street said the matter did not go to mediation. Since the mail policy had been changed and to keep from pulling the sheriff’s department into a trial, Street said the $50,000 settlement was a good way to put the matter to rest.

“We’re pleased that this case has resolved, and that prisoners at the Sullivan County jail can receive letters from their children and other family members instead of having their correspondence restricted to postcards,” said Alex Friedmann, managing editor of PLN. “Many people in jail are awaiting trial, have not been convicted and are presumed innocent, and retain most of their rights — including their rights under the First Amendment.”

Durham’s trespass charge against reporter dismissed

A misdemeanor trespassing charge brought by state Rep. Jeremy Durham against Nashville Post and Nashville Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin has been dismissed, reports Nashville Post Politics.

“I’m glad these baseless allegations have been dropped. I look forward to once again fully focusing my attention on my job, which includes the vetting of public officials,” said Gervin after the dismissal.

Assistant District Attorney Mary Katherine White had filed charges after a May 17 confrontation at Durham’s house during which the state representative screamed at Gervin and attempted to grab her cell phone from her hand.

“It’s been a bad week for Jeremy: He’s having to answer questions about his campaign finances not being in order and now his unfounded charges against our reporter got thrown out,” said Steve Cavendish, editorial director at SouthComm and editor of the Scene. “We’re just glad the court found this all as ridiculous as we did. I only wish he hadn’t wasted taxpayers’ time and money like this.”

Further from The Tennessean:
The reporter, Cari Wade Gervin, appeared in court at the Williamson County Judicial Center for a hearing before Special Judge Ernie Williams. Assistant District Attorney General Mary Katherine White and Gervin’s lawyer, Tyler Yarbro, said the case would be dismissed.

“I have consulted with Mr. and Mrs. Durham as well,” White said in court.

Williams said both sides reached an agreement to dismiss the case and he would “certainly sign off on that.”

…Durham sat in the lobby of the courthouse with his wife, Jessica. Approached by a Tennessean reporter, he declined to comment, shaking his head and waving his hands. The couple did not attend the brief hearing, which is not unusual when charges are dropped.

John M. Jones, politically active publisher and ‘Merrill’s Marauders’ vet, dies aged 101

John M. Jones, publisher of the Greeneville Sun and World War II veteran who was part of “Merrill’s Marauders” serving behind Japanese lines in Burma, has died at age 101. Jones was also politically active as a Democrat in the 1950s and 1960s, subsequently forming ties with some of the state’s prominent Republicans.

Excerpts from the Greeneville Sun’s report: Continue reading

Some holiday weekend reading suggestions for TN political junkies

Democratic dysfunction
Otis Sanford bemoans the squabble over financial troubles at the Shelby County Democratic Party, which last week put some local party leaders at odds with Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini. (ICYMI, post HERE.) His starting proposition:

The dysfunctional political family otherwise known as the Shelby County Democratic Party has managed itself into complete irrelevance. After resembling a circular firing squad for the past few years, local party leaders have finally turned the once highly effective and highly diverse group into a laughingstock.

The Tennessee Republican Party, which has had its share of dysfunctional episodes lately (most recently HERE), was naturally eager to offer commentary, too, HERE.
Continue reading

Prosecutor seeks to pierce TN shield law for ‘Dateline NBC’ interview

With a high-profile double killing as the backdrop, a Knox County judge is being asked to do something no appellate court in Tennessee’s history has ever approved — pierce the shield that protects journalists from disclosing information not yet published or aired.

Further from the News-Sentinel:

Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword heard arguments Thursday in a bid by prosecutors to force the television news magazine “Dateline NBC” to turn over video of an interview with double-killing suspect Norman Eugene Clark that has yet to be broadcast.

Clark, accompanied by defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs, gave the interview soon after a jury last year deadlocked with a vote of 11-1 to acquit him of charges he killed his pregnant girlfriend, Brittany Eldridge, 25, and their unborn son, Ezekiel, in December 2011. The state now seeks to retry him.

There is no indication Clark admitted to the killings, which he denies, and Deputy Assistant District Attorney General Kyle Hixson concedes prosecutors do not know whether Clark said anything in the interview that might be helpful to the prosecution in what is an entirely circumstantial case against him.

Hixon also agrees Tennessee’s press shield law has been tough enough to withstand all appellate reviews. The law protects journalists from being forced to reveal sources and information gathered as part of their duties and is designed to ensure the media can fulfill its watchdog function without fear of government interference.

But, Hixon argued Thursday, prior bids to pierce the shield involved “bad arguments” in which those seeking protected information failed to show a need so “compelling” as to overcome First Amendment guarantees. Not so in the Clark case, he argued.

“I don’t know what the bright line is, but I think when we’re talking about a double homicide case, purely circumstantial case, no other avenue to get this information, no other information … every piece of evidence is important,” Hixson said.

AP story on reporter Rick Locker’s job change — with Haslam comment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Board of Regents has hired longtime Statehouse reporter Richard Locker as the higher education system’s spokesman.

Locker succeeds Monica Greppin-Watts, who is joining the communications team at the University of Alabama.

Locker began covering the state Capitol for The Commercial Appeal of Memphis 33 years ago and has since contributed state government and politics coverage for the Knoxville News Sentinel and The Tennessean of Nashville. He previously worked for the Nashville Banner and the Knoxville Journal.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to cover state government and politics for West Tennesseans all these years, and more recently for a broader audience,” Locker said in statement. “It hurts to leave and I will miss all my colleagues at all three newspapers, all of whom work hard every day to keep Tennesseans informed.”

Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters on Monday that he is happy to see Locker join the Board of Regents, but that he is saddened to see another departure from Statehouse press corps.

“I don’t always agree with what he writes, but he is a professional who does care,” Haslam said. “And he’s been around a long time and has a history about Capitol Hill.”

“It matters that we have fewer and fewer people that have been around and understands what happens with state government,” the governor said. “We all lose when that happens.”

Locker joins the Board of Regents staff as the education system faces major changes. Haslam, a Republican, has taken steps toward giving independent boards to its six four-year universities. Once the four-year schools are spun off, the Board of Regents system will concentrate on the administration of two-year colleges where free tuition is available to any high school graduate.

Locker begins his new job on Friday.

Note: Previous post HERE.

Veteran TN Capitol Hill reporter Rick Locker moves to Board of Regents

Richard “Rick” Locker, a Tennessee Capitol Hill reporter for 34 years and currently providing state government coverage for three major newspapers, has resigned to become communications director for the state Board of Regents.

Locker, a Lincoln County native and University of Tennessee-Knoxville graduate, began his newspaper career with the Knoxville Journal, serving there for three years before joining the Nashville Banner staff. He then signed on as Nashville correspondent for the Commercial Appeal of Memphis in 1982.

In 2014, Locker began covering the doings of legislators, governors, state government departments and such for the News Sentinel of Knoxville as well. This year, after Gannett bought the Commercial Appeal and the News Sentinel, his articles began appearing regularly in The Tennessean, too.

At the Board of Regents, Locker will succeed Monica Greppin-Watts, who has taken a position with the University of Alabama. He will begin the new job July 1, Locker said.

Says Locker in an email:

“I love and cherish my time at The Commercial Appeal and more recently at the News Sentinel too. Both are indispensable institutions in their communities, and the coverage they provide is essential to our democracy. It’s been a high honor and a privilege to cover state government and politics for West and East Tennesseans.”

Update/Note: See also the Nashville Scene blog post on Locker’s exit, HERE.