Protect Freedom of the Press

Americans are facing an unprecedented threat, and the information you provide is saving lives. That story needs to be told.

The Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University  has developed a national campaign featuring a diverse group of Americans and this message about journalism: “Reliable Information When We Need it Most.” These ads have been configured for print and online, in multiple sizes and are available for immediate download at

Ken Paulson, director of The Free Speech Center has also written a companion guest column you may want to use detailing how COVID-19 is threatening the future of newsgathering. The lead: Three handy tips for coping with COVID-19: Wash your hands frequently. Wear a mask outdoors. And subscribe to a local newspaper or website. The column can be found at

House ads available

64 TPA members participated in the “We Are There With You” common theme page campaign
New theme-based house ads created for member use

We thank TPA President Chris Vass and Matt McClane, presentation editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, for designing the “We Are There With You” common page that was used the week of March 29. Mr. McClane designed the creative. At least sixty-four TPA members used the graphics and the material was also offered to newspapers in 11 other states.

House ads available
TPA has commissioned a series of ads based on the theme for your use. The ads are in 3 x 5 and 3 x 10 formats. Please feel free to download them, alter them and use as you see fit. Ads are based on these themes:

  • together we can build a stronger community
  • together we celebrate our heroes
  • together we protect or community
  • together we count our blessings
  • together we look to the future

Summer Convention postponed to Sept. 24-25, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee Press Association has officially postponed the 2020 Summer Convention and has secured the new convention dates of September 24-25.  The event is being planned in Pigeon Forge at the Music Road Resort, the originally contracted location.  

The convention will host the Advertising/Circulation Conference, State Press Contests Awards (Editorial) and Ideas Contest Awards (Advertising/Circulation) and a day at Dollywood, but in a different order that originally was planned for June.    

Dollywood is expected to be closed on Thursdays in September, so the picnic and day at Dollywood has been moved to Friday, Sept. 25.  

The convention postponement has the benefit of a much lower hotel rate.  The new rate is $129 plus tax, per night.  Convention attendees may make reservations now by calling the hotel.  However, TPA recommends that you wait until you receive your packet in July to make reservations.  Convention registration information will be available on July 15. 

TPA State Press Contests award winners will be notified of an award, but not placement in early June.

The tentative new convention schedule is as follows.

Thursday, September 24 (Schedule is tentative as of 4/13/20)

Noon         Registration Opens
1:00 p.m. TPA Board of Directors Meeting & Concurrent business session
2:30 p.m. Tennessee Press Service Stockholders Meeting
3:00 p.m. TPA Foundation Board of Directors Meeting
6:00 p.m. Reception
7:00 p.m. State Press Contests Awards Dinner
9:30 p.m. Post-banquet reception

Friday, September 25

8:30 a.m. Welcome
9:00 a.m.   Ad/Circ Conference
9:00 a.m.  News/Editorial sessions (Until noon)
Noon     Luncheon with Ideas Contest Awards Presentation
1:30 p.m.   Ad/Circ Conference sessions (until 3:00)
5:00 p.m.  Picnic dinner at Dollywood (Families and guests may go any
time that day, convention attendees can meet up when their
sessions end. Dollywood is open until 9:00 p.m.)

Watch in July for convention details.   Contact Robyn Gentile with any convention questions at

Public Notice Journalism Contest Deadline Dec. 31

The Tennessee Public Notice Journalism Contest is administered by Tennessee Press Association and recognizes journalists that use public notice, or the lack of required public notice, to raise awareness of its importance.  The award is intended to encourage reporters and editors to incorporate public notices into their reporting and writing.

Criteria for the award mirrors that of the national Public Notice Journalism Contest administered annually by the Public Notice Resource Center (PNRC.)  The winner of the Tennessee Public Notice Journalism Contest will be advanced to the national contest automatically.  Tennessee Press Association is a member of the PNRC.  Judges for the contest will be recognized journalism scholars or professionals.


The annual award is given to a Tennessee Press Association member newspaper journalist, or team of journalists, for utilizing public notices to generate stories of interest or importance to readers.  A prize of $200 will be awarded to the winning journalist or divided among a team of winning journalists.  There is a $700 prize available to the winner of the national PNRC Contest.  


• One award will be announced in January 2020 for a story published in calendar year 2019.

• For purposes of this contest, newspaper public notices are defined as those announcements or disclosures that are statutorily required by a private party or governmental entity, and which must be published in a newspaper of general circulation.

• Submissions must be a news or feature story that involves a public notice or lack of notice. No editorials.

• Stories must cite the public notice requirement and refer readers to the publication in which it appeared.  Online references must include links.  If public notice requirements were not met or were deficient, the story must explain how and why the notice was deficient.

• Stories must have been originally published in print.  Clippings may be scanned  or a PDF and must include the date, and must be submitted as a PDF file. 


Entries are due to Tennessee Press Association via email to:  You will receive an acknowledgement via email.


The deadline to submit entries is Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.   

2019 Tennessee State Press Contests Winners announced July 18 in Chattanooga

UT, Tennessee Press Association Announce 2019 Newspaper Contest Winners

Newspaper publishers, editors, writers, and designers won top awards Thursday in the Tennessee Press Association’s 2019 newspaper contest cosponsored by UT. Excel file with winners, captions, judges’ comments and credits.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Johnson City Press, the Leaf-Chronicle (Clarksville), the Hendersonville Standard, and the Gallatin News won the top general excellence awards in their respective divisions at the association’s lunch ceremony, held in Chattanooga. Points are awarded for each entry, and general excellence honors are based on the newspaper’s total points in their division.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press and the Tennessean (Nashville) each won 11 first-place awards. The Johnson City Press received eight first-place awards and the Bristol Herald Courier received seven first-place awards.

Among the many stories from 2018 cited for excellent work, contest judges highlighted the Tennessean’s coverage of the Waffle House shooting in Antioch, Tennessee.

As part of the annual contest, newspapers winning first-place awards in the categories of editorials, best single editorial, and public service received $250 prizes from UT’s Edward J. Meeman Foundation. The Gallatin News won three awards this year, one for each category.

UT has cosponsored the annual contest since 1940.

The Meeman Foundation was established in 1968 at UT to fund the contest, provide professional critiques of journalists’ work, and support journalism students and educators.

Reciprocal judging is done with another state’s association. This year, the Texas Press Association judged 1,406 entries from 72 of the Tennessee Press Association’s 129 member newspapers.

Full results of the contest are available here.


Charles Primm (865-974-5180,

Robyn Gentile (865-584-5761,

TN Newspaper Hall of Fame Induction set July 19

Three newspapermen have been selected for posthumous induction into the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame.

John M. Jones, III was the publisher of The Greeneville Sun and expanded the company into a family-owned group of eight Tennessee newspapers. He is widely considered the unofficial father of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Jones served as the president of TPA in 1962-63.

John L. Seigenthaler served as editor, publisher, chairman and CEO of The Tennessean. He was also the founding editorial director of USA Today. He was a mentor, civil rights advocate and a proponent of the First Amendment.

George T. Whitley was with The Covington Leader for nearly 57 years. He was named publisher in 1975 and served as that until retiring n 2003. He was a community leader, serving in various roles and also coached youth baseball. He was a leader in TPA as well and was one of only a few people to serve as president of the TPA, TPA Foundation and Tennessee Press Service.

The induction ceremony is being planned as a dinner on Friday, July 19, in Chattanooga, Tenn. It will be held in conjunction with the TPA Summer Convention at The Read House Hotel.

The Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame was established in 1966 as a joint project of the Tennessee Press Association and the University of Tennessee. The Hall of Fame honors those who have made outstanding contributions to Tennessee newspaper journalism or, through Tennessee journalism, to newspaper journalism generally or who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities and regions or the state through newspaper journalism.

The program recognizes and memorializes “extraordinary and clearly outstanding” contributions to newspaper journalism and the newspaper industry. The program’s criteria and procedures were established in 1966, based on policies set jointly by the Tennessee Press Association and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees. The Hall of Fame is located on the third floor of the Communications Building at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Portraits of all Hall of Fame inductees are displayed there.

The TPA Foundation maintains a website about the Hall of Fame with photos and inductee biographies at

The induction of Mr. Jones, Mr. Seigenthaler and Mr. Whitley will bring the total number of inductees to 60. Watch The Tennessee Press and for details on how to register to attend the induction ceremony or contact TPA at (865) 584-5761, ext. 105.

Grainger Today’s Wolfe wins TPA’s 2018 Public Notice Journalism Contest

Tracey Wolfe, editor of Grainger Today, has won the Tennessee Press Association’s 2018 Public Notice Journalism Contest.

Photo by Donn Jones Photography

The contest recognizes journalists that use public notice, or the lack of required public notice, to raise awareness of its importance.

The judge wrote, “Grainger Today and Editor Tracey Wolfe provide a textbook example of how public notices should be used on the news side of newspapers and why readers should appreciate them.”

The newspaper published a routine paid notice about plans by a business to get a state permit for a rock quarry. Wolfe wrote the news story for the top of Grainger Today’s Page 1 on Dec. 5, 2018.

That led to a Dec. 12 story about the Grainger County Commission public hearing, where residents complained about the threat to their drinking water quality and area lakes and the ultimate compliment by a citizen: “We heard about the quarry…it was in the paper,” one resident testified. “We’ve scrambled around … we want to know what it really means to us.”

All three pieces urged concerned readers to send their comments to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. 

Wolfe’s entry has been advanced to the national contest, which is administered by the Public Notice Resource Center.

Her TPA plaque and prize of $200 will be presented on July 18 as part of the TPA State Press Contests Awards luncheon in Chattanooga.

This competition marked the fourth year of the TPA Public Notice Journalism Contest.