East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists


[updated 9/30/08]

Please mark your calendar and plan to attend:

  • October 20 – Board Meeting 9 am Long’s Drug Store, Bearden

  • October 23 – Covering Tragedy Town Hall Meeting, 7 p.m. East Tennessee History Center, Gay Street, Knoxville The general public is invited and welcome to attend (see below for details)

  • October 30 – Friends of Literacy East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame present Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist David Shribman, 7 p.m., Crowne Plaza, Knoxville.  See below.

  • November 20 – Freelancing for fun and profit, 7 p.m. Knox Room, Knoxville News Sentinel headquarters between Western Avenue and Middlebrook Pike (see below)

  • December 4 – Holiday Party at Cherokee Bluffs Condo Clubhouse

  • December 31, 2008 – Deadline for 2008 Golden Press Card Award entries to be published/broadcast

  • February 10, 2009 – Deadline for Golden Press Card entries to be received for judging

  • May, 2009 – Golden Press Card Award

October 23 7 p.m. East Tennessee History Center, Gay Street.

Covering Tragedy: A Town Hall Meeting

Covering Tragedy: A Town Hall Meeting

The East Tennessee Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is honored to present “Covering Tragedy: A Town Hall Meeting” Thursday Oct. 23, 2008 at 7 p.m. at the East Tennessee History Center on Gay Street.

Representatives from five major Knoxville media outlets will sit on a panel and take questions from a moderator and the audience on the anatomy of a tragic and breaking news story.  There will also be three guest speakers who will offer “the other side” of the story. Those speakers are Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church Reverend Chris Buice, Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre, and Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen.

The panel will discuss the various considerations that go into an evolving news story.  It’s often clear that the public which journalists serve, is unaware of what actually goes into the journalistic process, and it is our desire to promote an awareness of what journalism is and how it is undertaken.

The guest speakers will offer a few words before the panel discussion in an effort to frame the conversation with respect to two recent tragedies: The deadly TVUUC church shooting that killed two and the Central High School shooting that left one child dead. All of these speakers were not only thrust into the middle of highly stressful and emotional situations, but they were also forced to face a questioning media, with which some have more experience than others.

These speakers have been asked to talk about what role the media played in “their side” of the story.  Were the media helpful? Were they a hindrance? How did these people balance the obligation they have to those in need with the responsibility to be open and truthful with the public?

Our goal is to generate a dialogue between the media, those involved in tragic situations, and the public. ETSPJ hopes to raise an awareness of the journalistic process, the needs of those directly dealing with a tragic situation, and the expectations of the members of the community who get their news from us, and live, learn and worship in our community.

October 30 – Friends of Literacy present David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at the Crowne Plaza, Knoxville.  Tickets $100

Shribman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in journalism in 1995 for his coverage of Washington and the American political scene. His column, “My Point,” is syndicated nationally. Shribman’s book, “I Remember My Teacher,” is a tribute to the nation’s great educators. Each guest will receive a signed copy.  For more information, please go to http://www.friendsofliteracy.org/.

November 20, 7 pm Knoxville News Sentinel’s Knox Room — Freelancing for Fun and Profit

In an economy where “mainstream media” are shrinking staff and where salaries aren’t rising as fast as inflation, journalists need to find other ways of translating their skills into cash.  Our panel on freelancing will include veteran freelancer and editor Katy Koontz who specializes in women’s health, travel and lifestyle topics and who has edited several books and much more.

We’ll also meet photographer Colby McLemore, who works with Katy to tie images to stories, making the entire package more marketable.  Colby will share how this partnership works and how a writer might inexpensively gain skills to shoot the pictures and art for his/her stories.

We’ll cover successful queries, establishing relationships with publications, plus the business aspects of managing money and living off your writing.  Additional panelists may be added to broaden the scope of this “where the rubber meets the road” professional development session.  It’s a “don’t dare miss!”

Holiday Party — Save the date!  December 4 at 6 pm at Cherokee Bluff Condo Clubhouse

Bring a covered dish and enjoy sandwiches and beverages provided by ETSPJ.  Also, bring a wrapped gift worth about $10 for our Crazy Gift Exchange!  It can be a gag gift, recycled present or something that the recipient would actually want to keep!  Bring a spouse/partner/friend to start getting into the holiday spirit!

Events in 2009

Weekend of April 3: Region 12 Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas

May – Golden Press Card Banquet

July – 31st Annual Front Page Follies

Previous Events

Golden Press Card Award Banquet  May 9, 2008

More than 80 journalists and guests attended our annual banquet at The Foundry Friday night to congratulate winners of this year’s competition.  The top two awards overall are the Horace V. Wells, Jr. Community Service Award and The Golden Press Card Award given to the top entrant among all the Award of Excellence winners in all categories.  This year we had unprecedented ties in both categories.

The Wells Award went to Scott Barker, Rebecca Ferrar, Ansley Haman, Hayes Hickman of the Knoxville News Sentinel for “Knox County Turmoil;” and the Channel 10 News Team, WBIR-TV won for “Knox County Files.”  The Judges said, “this is an ultimate public service with continuing commitment to follow through.”

The Golden Press Club Award was also shared by the two media on the same subject.  For this award, the Knoxville News Sentinel’s entry was “Knox County Chaos” by Rebecca Ferrar and Ansley Haman.

For the first time, ETSPJ held a High School Essay Contest in which the chapter winner will go on to the National SPJ level to compete with contemporaries from across the country for scholarships worth up to $1,000.  The ETSPJ winner was Christopher Bernard of Knoxville, who was presented with a certificate and a check for $50 during the GPC banquet.

The other awards in dozens of categories, may be viewed to the right under “WINNERS.”

Open Records/Meetings Seminar March 6, 2007

About 60 citizens, reporters and students attended our lively session on Tennessee’s evolving Open Records and Open Meetings law, how to ensure officials comply with it and what to do if they don’t.  It was co-sponsored by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the UT School of Journalism and Electronic Media, and was funded by a grant from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Legislative Luncheon Informative

The latest word on proposed amendments to Tennessee’s Sunshine Law plus a look into the legislature’s crystal bowl were offered at a luncheon January 26, 2008, at Calhoun’s.

Holiday Party A Great Success!

The Maplehurst Inn’s lovely decorations were a festive backdrop to our party December 11, 2007, that brought together longtime ETSPJ members with some new faces, making for a lively evening.  Organizers Amanda Greever and Christine Jessel introduced a new wrinkle into the Crazy Gift Exchange.  Recognizing that those who draw higher numbers allow a better chance to “steal” previously opened gifts, they divided the assemblage into two groups.  We had to vie against each other at Pictionary, where categories were along journalism and Christmas themes.  One team quickly proved itself the frontrunner, so the “losers” had to choose the first half of the gifts and risk “theft” — which became rampant at the end, with several coveted gifts changing hands several times. Watch for some photos in Spot News and here soon!

Professional Development Workshop: “Shooting Video for the Web”

About 40 East Tennessee journalists attended this lively and informative session November 29, 2007, that told how anyone can economically acquire hardware and software to add good quality videos to a Web site. TV, newspaper, and academic expertise was shared with tips for shooting effective material with a camera costing as little as $150 and using freeware to edit and post to the Web. Thanks to all the presenters and attendees!


Many of our events and those we list here are held at the University Center on the UT campus.  To get there from Cumberland Avenue, turn south onto Philip Fulmer Way, a block east of 16th Street.  The UC is on the corner and the garage is just beyond the UC.  A little farther south is parking lot S-9 at the corner of Andy Holt Ave. and Philip Fulmer Way.  This is generally available in the evenings at no cost unless there’s a sporting event or concert.  To see a UT map, click UT campus map.

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