Save the dates—June 23-25, 2022—for the Tri-State Press Convention with Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee Press Associations at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel. Convention details will be available in late April. Visit tristatepress.org for more information.
It is time to enter the 2022 Tennessee State Press Contests for the newsroom. The deadline is Friday, March 11, 2022. Download the rules and entry information today.
TPA is calling for entries in the 2022 Ideas Contest for advertising and circulation departments. The contest has been revised and digital categories have been added. There are now 41 categories in the contest. The Ideas Contest deadline is Friday, March 18, 2022. Download the contests rules brochure.
This year marks TPA’s 12th annual celebration of Public Notice Week. The following column by Rick Thomason, TPA President, is for any TPA member to publish during Public Notice Week. We encourage you to write your own columns and editorials emphasizing the importance of public notice in keeping citizens informed.
By Rick Thomason. Photo of Rick Thomason
President, Tennessee Press Association
For TPA’s Public Notice Week, Jan. 23-29, 2022
This country, as well as the State of Tennessee, enjoy a long history of open government. Our Founding Fathers insisted that laws, resolutions and other such actions by the U.S. Congress be published in newspapers as public notices.
When Tennessee became a state, its first constitution also appropriately included such provisions.
More than 230 years ago legislators recognized the importance of citizens knowing how their new government was working for them. Our governments – at all levels – continue to evolve, and it is as important in 2022 as it was in 1789 that citizens remain notified of the critical maneuverings of those elected to make decisions on their behalf.
Our republic has always been grounded in the principles of democracy where citizens have the opportunity – and dare I say, obligation? – to keep an eye on government functions that impact them every day. And there has been no greater nor more important avenue for that scrutiny than public notices published in this nation’s newspapers, which provide a searchable history of notices.
But not every legislator sees the good in published public notices. In fact, over the last couple of decades some lawmakers have fought to take public notices from newspapers and move them to government-run websites. The reasons are suspect at best and the arguments are fraught with holes.
Some lawmakers argue that public notices placed only online will broaden the reach of public notices. On the surface it sounds like those individuals are looking out for the best interest of their constituents, right? Not so fast. The truth is that millions who now can see public notices in newspapers will no longer see them because they do not have, nor do they want, internet access. This is particularly true among the elderly who are largely avid newspaper readers and those who live in rural areas.
Plus, in 2013 it was made law in Tennessee that newspapers develop a statewide site to which all published public notices would be uploaded. The Tennessee Press Association created that website that is available to all citizens. So not only do newspapers in Tennessee already publish public notices in print and on their own websites, but those public notices are also posted on a statewide site, too. And again, that is by law.
Imagine if every town, city and county had to put that technology and the manpower behind it in place.
Lawmakers will point to ‘cost savings’ if all public notices are moved online to government-run websites. Again, it sounds good in theory, but the reality is that state and local governments aren’t equipped to properly post and distribute public notices online.
Building websites with the appropriate capabilities isn’t easy nor is it inexpensive. Maintaining them is even more expensive and, frankly, in this day and age few towns, cities and counties have the financial wherewithal to add more layers of needless work.
Under the guise of ‘broader distribution of public notices’ (when they actually want them less visible), some lawmakers will say that newspapers are no longer an effective way to distribute these important messages. Again, nice try. But again, it is an argument full of holes and misinformation.
While newspaper print distribution has shown a decline over the last couple of decades, mostly in urban areas, newspaper audiences are larger than they have ever been because of digital access. Exactly where these lawmakers say they want public notices – online. But the difference is that the online audience for newspapers is not only consistent, but it’s growing and growing consistently.
And guess where newspapers place their public notices? Yep. Online. A 2013 law mandated that we do that at no extra charge.
But wait! There’s more! (No, this isn’t an informercial.) The Tennessee Press Association already collects and aggregates public notices on one public website that was just recently updated to make it easier than ever to use. So, in this state our public notices get twice the online exposure already.
Let’s not make the public go on a hunting expedition for public notices. Newspapers already publish and distribute them even more effectively than our Founding Fathers could have imagined in their wildest dreams.
This is Public Notice Week in Tennessee. Public notices are an equal third of the triangle that make up the ideological foundation of our collaborative government. The other thirds are open meetings and access to public records. Support us in our efforts to keep public notices visible and cost effective. The old adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ certainly applies here.
Rick Thomason is the 2021-22 president of the Tennessee Press Association and publisher of the Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press.
The Tennessee Press Association (TPA) announced the 2021 Ideas Contest awards on Thursday, Sept. 23 during the virtual Revenue Summit for newspaper advertising and circulation staff members.
There were 544 entries from 28 newspapers in the 2021 contest, which has four circulation divisions and 30 categories. TPA partnered with the New Jersey Press Association for the judging, which resulted in 204 winning entries.
The 2021 Ideas Contest Best of Show was awarded to the Johnson City Press for its niche publication for the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, “Explore Washington County.”
The First Runner-up was awarded to the Chattanooga Times Free Press for its multi-color ad for “Your Fall Break Destination…Chattanooga.”
The Second-Runner-up was awarded to the Pulaski Citizen for its multi-color ad for “King B Farm Weddings.”
The newspaper with the most awards is the farragutpress with 24 awards, followed by the Chattanooga Times Free Press with 23 and The Greeneville Sun with 22 awards.
Congratulations to all of the winners!
Link to the list of winners with captions and some judges’ comments:
Link to the Slideshow of the 2021 Ideas Contest Winners (94 megabyte PDF please be patient while it loads):
Link to the Best of Show winner PDF:
List of winners in excel file
(Note, this file may not have some corrections to contributors that were submitted.)
Tennessee newspaper excellence was recognized with awards in the 2021 University of Tennessee (UT)-Tennessee Press Association (TPA) State Press Contests presented at a luncheon on Friday, August 27, at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs Hotel. Sixty-nine TPA member newspapers have won at least one award in the Contests.
UT has co-sponsored the State Press Contests since 1940 by providing the plaques, certificates and coordination of the awards presentation. A UT official will present the awards. Event details and registration information are available at tnpress.com.
Members of the New Jersey Press Association judged the State Press Contests this year. TPA members judged the New Jersey Press contest as part of the associations’ reciprocal agreement. There were 79 newspapers that entered the contests with 1,208 total entries.
TPA is calling for entries in the 2021 Advertising & Circulation Ideas Contest. Download the rules brochure.
The deadline for the Ideas Contest has been extended through Friday, March 12.
The TPA Board of Directors voted on July 17 to cancel the Sept. 24-25 convention that was to be held in Pigeon Forge. The State Press Contests Awards presentation will be held virtually on Thursday, September 24 at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
The Advertising and Circulation Ideas Contest Awards will be presented virtually on Friday, September 25. TPA will be working to set up some webinars on topics for the newsroom, advertising and circulation.