Former T-G editor joins Hall of Fame

Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Kent Flanagan (File photo)

A former Times-Gazette editor and an author of a book on Tennessee walking horses are among nine print and broadcast journalists being posthumously inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame today in Murfreesboro.

Kent Flanagan edited the T-G from 2009-2011 before being named executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a nonprofit alliance of media, citizen and professional groups he helped form in 2003. He died in February of this year after a long illness.

Jack Knox, a longtime political cartoonist, authored and illustrated the book "America's Tennessee Walking Horse."

"I remember when Kent joined the T-G several years ago. We were all very excited to have a man with such a prized career join our community paper," current editor Sadie Fowler said.

"Kent become a friendly face in our newsroom and our town, and I think we all remember him most for his kind and compassionate heart."

Flanagan spent more than 40 years in journalism, including 21 years as the chief-of-bureau for the Associated Press in Tennessee.

Young start

"I've been a journalist since the age of 12," Flanagan told an interviewer in 2012. "I got drafted in middle school to write sports for the student newspaper, and kept going."

The Ballinger, Texas, native graduated from Angelo State University in 1968 and served four years in the Army, including service in Vietnam. He later worked for the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel in Florida and the San Antonio Express-News before joining the AP.

He left the AP in 2004 and served four years as journalist-in-residence at Middle Tennessee State University before joining the Times-Gazette. Flanagan was executive director in 2012-2013 of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

Knox, a nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, practiced his wit and biting commentary in three of the state's four largest cities. He drew for the Nashville Banner, the old Evening Tennessean in Nashville, the Commercial Appeal in Memphis and the former Chattanooga News-Free Press.

Other inductees include Minor Elam Bragg and John Thomas Bragg, two generations of Middle Tennessee newspaper publishers -- a father and son, the latter becoming a Tennessee statesman and reformer responsible for passing Tennessee's open meetings (Sunshine) law.

John Bragg

John Bragg (1918-2004) came from a newspaper family that owned the Cannon Courier and later started the Rutherford Courier, but distinguished himself in another form of public service as a legislative reformer and expert in government finance during a 30-year career in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

In 1974 Bragg sponsored the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, which is known as the "Sunshine Law" and mandates most official meetings of governing bodies be open to the public.

Minor Bragg

Minor Bragg was the editor and publisher of the Cannon Courier in the 1920s, a publication he sold in 1933 after launching the Rutherford Courier in Murfreesboro and Smyrna two years before.

Roy McDonald

Roy McDonald, whose advertising sheet he started to promote his grocery business in Chattanooga grew into the daily Free Press and, after purchasing a competitor, the Chattanooga News-Free Press.

Bob Parkins

Bob Parkins, a small-town dairyman who founded the Milan Mirror in 1965 and purchased the Milan Exchange in 1977, combining the two into today's Milan Mirror-Exchange. He published and edited the newspaper until his death in 2008.

John Popham III

John N. Popham III, a native Virginian who landed in Tennessee to cover the South and civil rights for The New York Times in 1947 and stayed for good, working from the Chattanooga Times for more than 20 years.

Grantland Rice

Henry Grantland Rice, a nationally syndicated sports columnist from Murfreesboro whose contributions to sports resonate decades after his death.

A poem he wrote contained his most quoted work, "For when the one Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks--not that you won or lost--but how you played the game."

Drue Smith

Drue Smith, a trailblazing woman who started in newspapers before switching to become a respected and colorful broadcast political reporter. She was the first woman to cover politics full time at the state Capitol, was the first woman chair of the Capitol Hill Press Corps, the first woman inducted into the local Society of Professional Journalists (Sigma Delta Chi) chapter, and became its first female president.

Veteran Capitol Hill reporters remember for her trademark, sound-bite grabbing strategy at the end of all gubernatorial press conferences: "Governor, what is the bottom line?"

The Hall

The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame is an independent partner with Middle Tennessee State University's College of Mass Communication, which houses the hall in its Center for Innovation in Media inside the Bragg Mass Communication Building on the MTSU campus.

For more information about the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, see www.tnjournalismhof.org.