Tag Archives: media

Lee Anderson, veteran Chattanooga newspaperman, dies at age 90

Lee Stratton Anderson, former publisher of the Chattanooga Free Press and one of the longest-serving newspapermen in the nation, died in Atlanta early this morning at age 90, reports the Times-Free Press.

Anderson was a widely known and respected conservative voice, patriot, Christian and civic leader.

Anderson was “a true gentlemen and a great newspaperman,” said Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and chairman of WEHCO Media.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of an exceptional Tennessean and a Chattanooga icon,” said U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in a statement. “Lee Anderson’s impact on our city through his many roles at the paper, his civic service, and his passion for serving others, cannot be overstated. I am fortunate to have known him most of my adult life and will miss him dearly. My thoughts and prayers are with the Anderson family, his former colleagues at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and all those across our city and state who were touched by his life.”

Hussman bought the Free Press from the McDonald family in 1998, but he met Anderson years before that. They got to know each other at gatherings such as the Southern Newspapers Publishers Association’s annual convention.

“Everybody in the industry thought so highly of him,” Hussman said.

…U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who also knew Anderson for decades, noted he “never knew a more principled or hardworking newspaper man than Lee Anderson.”

Alexander noted Anderson was in his newspaper office at 400 E. 11th Street between 4:30 and 5 a.m. “pounding out conservative editorials,” he said in a statement.

Anderson “was unfailingly polite and professional. It was a privilege to know him and to read his tightly written opinions. He made an enormous contribution to Chattanooga and to Tennessee.”

Anderson began a 70-year career at the Chattanooga Free Press at age 16 when World War II had decimated the newsroom’s staff. Over the years he wrote feature stories and worked every news beat — from police to business to courts — before covering the Tennessee Legislature and politics at all levels of government, including five national presidential conventions.

Though he was named editor in April 1958, Anderson had been writing many of the editorials since 1948. In addition to being the editorial voice of the newspaper, he was, in effect, the managing editor, directing news coverage for decades through a cadre of departmental editors.

Haslam uses private email for public business?

Gov. Bill Haslam has set up a private email system for himself and key staffers, reports WTVF-TV’s Phil Williams, likening the situation to that of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server. It’s linked to the governor’s personal website, billhaslam.com.

In principle, experts agree that having a private email to make sure that state email is not used for political purposes is a good thing. The question is: what happens when that private email is used for public business?

“This is what got Hillary Clinton in trouble, and so I think the public sees this as an issue,” said Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

Fisher questioned whether public business is being conducted out of the public eye.

“By using a private email account, while those emails may still be subject to the Public Records Act, they are essentially under the radar and nobody knows about them,” she added.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates filed a public records request to obtain a snapshot of emails caught up in the state’s computer system sent to or from the governor’s private server. We found state budget officials — from state accounts — briefing the governor himself at a billhaslam.com email address.

The governor’s executive assistant, Janet McGaha, also uses billhaslam.com, corresponding in a couple of cases with then chief-of-staff Mark Cate — again at billhaslam.com.

We showed the emails to Nashville Tea Party activist Ben Cunningham.

“Obviously, they are using this private server to discuss public business,” Cunningham said. “Those are public records.”

In one example, Cate used that account to email an education activist about Common Core, copying Haslam’s education commissioner — also apparently using private email. In another case, a lobbyist emailed Cate at billhaslam.com about a letter he wanted the governor to sign.

…The governor’s office says any use of that account for official government business was “inadvertent and a rare occurrence.” And like Hillary Clinton, officials say the fact that such emails were eventually forwarded to the state email system shows they weren’t trying to hide anything.

The governor’s communications director, Dave Smith, added: “Any insinuation that the governor or this office deliberately used non-state emails for official state business is wrong and misleading.”

Some legislators unhappy over leaked bathroom emails

From a Tennessean story following up on last week’s report of email exchanges between House Republican Caucus members on whether to hold a special legislative session in response a federal directive on transgender bathroom use in schools:

An ongoing discussion about leaked emails between House Republican lawmakers has led one member to say whoever provided them to the media has betrayed their own party, another to suggest a colleague should “grow up” and a third to raise the possibility of asking the attorney general to look into the matter.

On Monday, Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, sent out an email to the House Republican Caucus asking “whoever released our email discussion of whether or not to hold a special session” to out themselves. Continue reading

Durham files criminal trespass charge against journalist

Embattled state Rep. Jeremy Durham has brought criminal trespass charges against Nashville Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin, contending she tried to enter his Franklin home while seeking an interview.

In an affidavit, the Republican lawmaker contends Gervin on Tuesday evening “attempted to enter the residence over multiple objections and demands” from Durham and his wife, Jessica, that she leave.

“The Durhams were able to physically prevent Ms. Gervin’s body from completely entering the residence. However, Ms. Gervin then placed her foot in the doorway, preventing the door from closing,” says the affidavit, posted by former state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, on his Facebook page.

When the door was subsequently closed, the affidavit says, Gervin “remained in the front yard of the property for another 5-10 minutes.” Continue reading

Durham calls police on reporter seeking interview at his home

State Rep. Jeremy Durham summoned police to his Franklin home after Nashville Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin tied to interview him there Tuesday evening about his campaign finance disclosures — and he apparently suggested to the officers that she should face criminal trespassing charges.

Excerpt from the Scene’s story:

Gervin had driven to Durham’s house to attempt to ask the former House majority whip three questions about his most recent filing. Earlier on Tuesday, Durham had not returned two phone calls and had replied to her first-ever text to him, “Please don’t text me anymore.” When Gervin rang the doorbell of Durham’s residence shortly after 8 p.m. and subsequently introduced herself, the representative screamed at her to leave his property and tried to grab her cell phone out of her hand. Soon after, because Gervin had momentarily partially stepped onto his threshold during the altercation, Durham called the police to report that she was “criminally trespassing.”

Three officers from the Franklin Police Department responded to the scene and interviewed Durham and his wife inside their home and Gervin on the public street where she was by then standing. An audio recording of the incident provided by Gervin shows a tense scene in the street.

“According to the two witnesses here, you tried to cross a threshold without being invited. That’s criminal trespass,” said Sgt. Todd Stamper.

Less than a minute later, Officer Shawn Finn asked, “Here’s the thing, alright? Do — really — do you want to go to jail for harassment?”

At that point, Gervin questioned if the officers were threatening to arrest her.

“Here’s the situation. I’ve got two witnesses that said you tried to cross the threshold of a house uninvited,” Stamper said. “By state law, that is criminal trespass. Doesn’t matter if you’re a journalist, doesn’t matter if he’s a public official. Does not matter.”

After about 15 minutes, the police made the determination to make an official investigation into the event. As of the time of publication, it was unclear whether charges would be issued.

On the passing of Larry Daughtrey

On a professional level, a line in Keel Hunt’s fine tribute to Larry Daughtrey stands out as precisely correct: He wielded a sharp pen with clarity and grace.

The man was a marvelous writer. (Keel includes a couple of samples in his tribute, a recommended read.) And as often stated, he was “a reporter’s reporter,” carefully cultivating people as sources and acquiring vast political knowledge by being an astute listener and voracious reader of anything related to politics, including obscure and arcane stuff few others noticed. He shared other reporters’ disdain of some less astute individuals serving, typically, as middle-level editors. (In the old days, we called them “droolers” – short for drooling idiots.)

Again as Keel notes, he was a mentor to other reporters – including yours truly, even though we were competitors on occasion when I first met him after moving back to Tennessee in late 1976, initially working for UPI and later for the News-Sentinel. (I would disagree with the lead in The Tennessean’s main obituary story that Larry “always broke the story first.” Not always; just very often.) Back then, when newspapers competed more than they collaborated, reporters would nonetheless sit down over a beer or at lunch after the dust had settled on some big-news brouhaha and compare notes and jokes. Learned a lot from Larry in such sessions.
Continue reading

Veteran TN political reporter Larry Daughtrey dies, age 76

Larry Daughtrey, who reported on Tennessee politics for almost four decades, died Thursday at age 76 following complications from lung disease, according to The Tennessean, the newspaper where he worked most of those years.

Mr. Daughtrey worked as a political reporter at The Tennessean from 1962 to 1997, helping solidify the newspaper’s reputation for crusading journalism while becoming a mentor for dozens of young reporters. He converted to writing a political column for the newspaper after his retirement.

Former Tennessean editor Frank Sutherland, who oversaw the paper during part of Mr. Daughtrey’s tenure, called Mr. Daughtrey a writer of consummate detail, one whose attention to the craft of writing was as respected as his dedication to fairness.

“Larry Daughtrey was a great reporter because he had the best sources of anyone on Capitol Hill,” Sutherland said. “He had the flair of language to tell the stories he had researched.

“His kind of reporting will be missed.”

Mr. Daughtrey, a native of Texas and graduate of Vanderbilt University, was respected on both sides of the political aisle for being tough, but truthful, Sutherland said. Inside The Tennessean, Mr. Daughtrey was a source for the right adjective and the definitive sources.

Daughtrey’s first major contribution came shortly came as a young reporter in 1962, when he was part of a Tennessean investigation that reported on voting fraud that led to the election of Richard Fulton to Congress. He would go on to cover state politics that spanned eight governors, from Frank Clement, the rise of Ned McWherter, to Phil Bredesen.

He also held the distinction of covering every presidential convention from 1964 to 2000.

“It brings me great sadness to hear of the passing of my good friend and former colleague Larry Daughtrey,” former Vice President Al Gore, a colleague of Daughtrey at The Tennessean, said in a written statement. “Larry’s devotion as a reporter, as well as his ability to understand and explain the complex political issues of our time, remain unmatched.

“His work commanded the highest respect from both sides of the aisle and his voice of reason will be missed. My heart goes out to his wife Judge Cissy Daughtrey, daughter Carran and their family.”

Ken Whitehouse goes to work for Nashville DA

Ken Whitehouse, a former journalist and political operative who most recently worked for public relations firm DVL Seigenthaler, has been named director of research and media relations for Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk, according to the Tennessean.

Whitehouse makes $79,000 annually in the new position and started work Monday.

Whitehouse said he will work with media organizations and do research on how to help reduce recidivism in Nashville. Current spokeswoman Dorinda Carter will become the office’s primary contact for community groups, victim’s rights groups and other organizations. Carter earns about $85,000 annually, according to state salary data.

“I am excited to have someone with Ken’s experience, depth of knowledge and respect in the community join our staff as we continue to make Nashville a healthy and safer place to live,” Funk said Tuesday in a statement. “He and Dorinda will make a great team as they share the efforts and initiatives of this office throughout the city.”

ECD promoting GOP on Facebook?

More than half of the money a state agency has spent on Facebook ads targets supporters of Tennessee’s top Republican politicians, with none spent on Democrats, according to WSMV-TV. The report prompted a press release protests from state Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and TNDP Chair Mary Mancini.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is to attract businesses to the Volunteer State, as well as to let the community know what’s going on. One of several marketing strategies involves paying for ads on Facebook.

What pops up in a user’s newsfeed may seem random, but Facebook can target users based on interests. And if you “like” certain officeholders, there’s a good chance you’ll see updates from the TDECD Facebook page.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is a nonpartisan state agency, except they’ve paid more than $18,000 to target people who “like” Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker or Sen. Lamar Alexander. Not a dime was spent on targeting fans of Democrats.

That fact troubles Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University.

“I think the real question is more so, who’s not getting the information who deserves to get the information?” Oppenheimer said.
… So why would an agency that’s interested in developing businesses and creating jobs not cast a wide net to garner fans of all political parties? The I-Team sat down with TDECD Commissioner Randy Boyd.

“Should politics be involved in a department that’s supposed to be apolitical?” asked reporter Alanna Autler.

“Politics is a pretty broad word,” Boyd said. “We have to work with the legislature and the legislature is always creating new legislation affecting things we do, and they are political. So in that sense, the politics of new laws and legislation do affect what our development and any department does.”
… Many of the ads pushed for more Facebook likes. Others were more specific, such as a post around Valentine’s Day 2014 that targeted users who like “Bill Haslam or chocolate.” But of all the metrics the department used, none mentioned Democrats.

“I think the blatancy of this may be a little different. Probably the thought is, no one is really going to find out about this sort of targeting,” Oppenheimer said. The professor said the strategy also resembles microtargeting, a tactic used during political campaigns to reach voters.

“It looks like something a campaign or somebody who’s thinking of running for office [would do],” Oppenheimer said. “It’s an attempt to get your message out and manage what you’re doing and who you are.”

Political watchers say there’s talk in Republican spheres about Commissioner Boyd running for governor.

Note: The Harris commentary is below. Continue reading

Feds OK sale of Memphis, Knoxville newspapers

Federal regulators Thursday approved the $280 million sale of Journal Media Group Inc. to Gannett Co. Inc., clearing the way for Gannett to acquire the company’s newspapers in 14 U.S. markets, including the Commercial Appeal in Memphis and the News Sentinel in Knoxville.

Further from the News Sentinel:

The approval from the U.S. Department of Justice means the deal is expected to close today.

The merger will give Gannett, the owner of USA Today and 92 other daily publications, six daily newspapers in Tennessee, as well as the biggest news outlet in Wisconsin’s largest market.

Combining the companies also strengthens Gannett’s holdings in several other states, including Florida, Indiana and Texas.

The acquisition is part of the transformation of the newspaper industry, which is in transition as consumers and advertisers migrate to the internet. Gannett, based in McLean, Va., describes its USA Today Network as the largest local-to-national news network in the country.

Journal Media Group stockholders will receive $12 per share in cash in the deal, which was approved by shareholders on March 1. Federal regulators needed to sign off before the sale could be completed, because of antitrust rules.

JMG, with about 3,400 employees at the time, was created in April 2015 after The E.W. Scripps Co. and Journal Communications Inc. merged their local TV and radio operations and spun off their newspapers into an independent, publicly traded company based in Milwaukee.