A stable of six outstanding journalists will comprise the inaugural induction class into the new Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame at Middle Tennessee State University.
The induction ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. April 26 at MTSU.
Heading the group of statewide inductees is John Seigenthaler, chairman emeritus of The Tennessean in Nashville, founding editorial director of USA Today and a man who has impacted the media profession nationally and statewide.
Seigenthaler was knocked unconscious during a 1961 Alabama civil rights demonstration as administrative assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and his journalistic work was instrumental in the criminal investigation of Jimmy Hoffa that led to the impeachment of Chattanooga Criminal Court Judge Ralston Schoolfield.
In 1986, MTSU established the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies in the College of Mass Communication, and in 1990, Seigenthaler founded the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University to promote dialogue on and advocacy for First Amendment freedoms.
Other inductees include:
• (Posthumously) Dan Miller was the longtime chief news anchor at Nashville’s WSMV-TV Channel 4, where he was named the “Most Popular News Anchor in America” once, and multiple times was voted Nashville’s “best news anchor.” A winner of multiple Emmy Awards, Miller died in 2009 at age 67.
• William Bryant (Bill) Williams Jr., a third generation community newspaper publisher, is publisher emeritus of the Paris (Tenn.) Post-Intelligencer, a newspaper that has served the Henry County community since 1866.
• Anne Holt is a 30-year veteran and three-time Emmy Award winner at WKRN-TV News 2 in Nashville. Among her numerous accolades, she is also a recipient of the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for investigative reporting and the Distinguished Service Award from the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters.
• Chris Clark, retired chief news anchor for WTVF-TV NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, produced multiple global documentaries in foreign nations, including Russia and Israel, and played a strategic role in convincing the Tennessee Supreme Court to allow cameras in courtrooms. Clark is currently an instructor in MTSU College of Mass Communication.
• Dean Stone is editor of the Maryville Times, where he still serves as a featured columnist. He served multiple terms as president of the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors, now known as the Tennessee Associated Press Media Editors.
Officially unveiled in October 2012 after four years of planning, the new Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame will be housed at MTSU and covers all categories of professional news media including television, newspaper, radio, public relations and electronic media.
“Our inductee committee has performed yeoman’s work in selecting outstanding journalists from throughout West, Middle and East Tennessee,” said Hooper Penuel, a retired lieutenant colonel and public information officer for the Tennessee National Guard and a founding member on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors.
The inaugural induction ceremony is scheduled for April 26 at the MTSU College of Mass Communication’s annual awards event honoring outstanding journalism students and educators.
Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg, whose family has a distinguished heritage in Tennessee journalism, welcomed the new hall, which will be located at the John Bragg Mass Communication building in the Center for Innovation in Media.
The late former state Rep. John Bragg and his father, Minor Bragg, founded and published multiple Middle Tennessee newspapers this past century. He’s the father of Mayor Bragg and Circuit Court Judge David Bragg.
“Having the new Hall of Fame located on premises of the university is appropriate, since the Mass Communication college is universally recognized as one of our nation’s most outstanding training grounds for journalism professionals of the future,” Bragg noted.
MTSU Mass Communication Dean Dr. Roy Moore welcomed the independent nonprofit to campus and praised the “tireless efforts” of the three men recognized as “founders” of the new hall.
“Having the Hall of Fame here helps encourage our students to go out and achieve their own remarkable careers as Tennessee media professionals,” Moore said.
Ron Fryar, publisher of the Murfreesboro Post and Cannon (Woodbury) Courier, has served as a consultant along with Moore.
“It’s a Hall of Fame for outstanding achievers, past and present, from all three regions of Tennessee,” Fryar said.
Peter Demos, president of Demos Restaurants and immediate past chairman of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, noted the “positive presence” for tourism that comes with having the hall located in Rutherford County.
“Having the (hall) here regularly points attention to our great university, its internationally recognized Mass Communication college and to our progressive community overall,” said Demos, who serves as president of the Tennessee Hospitality Association.