East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists

2008 Honorees

For its first 29 years, the Front Page Follies scholarships were named for an individual whom the Board of Directors believed did the most that year to improve journalism in East Tennessee.  This year we’re making history by honoring two giants of the First Amendment, and we’re making special recognition of nine ordinary citizens who helped keep government open in Knox County and, by extension, in all of Tennessee.

The 2008 Front Page Follies will laud “The Sunshine Boys,” News Sentinel editor Jack McElroy and First Amendment attorney Richard Hollow, for their pursuit of justice after Knox County Commission plunged our area into darkness with backroom deals on January 31, 2007, dubbed “Black Wednesday.”

Maybe not as funny as George Burns and Walter Matthau in the acclaimed 1975 movie or earlier Neil Simon play, McElroy and Hollow made an even bigger impact on the lives of area citizens, who have a more open government as a result of the decision upholding the Sunshine Law.

What will be hilarious, however, are the performances of the Follies cast, led by director Carol Zinavage. Some examples of song parodies now being rehearsed are: “Sunshine in our meetings –makes us nervous….” (to the tune ‘Sunshine on My Shoulders’); City Council members singing “Thank God We’re Not County Boys” (to the tune of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”); “The Ballad of Pat Head Summitt,” with apologies to Davy Crockett: “… learned how to stare when she was only three….;” and “Bubba Shot the Red Light….”

This year the Follies will also honor the nine citizens who joined the legal action, represented by Herb Moncier.  Their names appeared rarely in news reports of the legal saga, but we are inviting them to the show to be recognized and thanked.  We affectionately call them “The Gang of Nine” and they are:

Margo and Alfred Akerman

Gerald Bone

Donna J. G. Brian

Robert and Mildred Cunningham

Bee DeSelm

James Gray

Mike Whelan


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