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’s Murphy Center Arena.
Heading the group of statewide inductees is John Seigenthaler, chairman emeritus of The Tennessean in Nashville, founding editorial director of USA Today and founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.
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.
• 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.
Hall of Fame was three years in the making
Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg, whose family has a distinguished heritage in Tennessee journalism, welcomed the new hall’s location inside the building bearing his father’s name. The late former state Rep. John Bragg and his father, Minor Bragg, founded and published multiple Middle Tennessee newspapers this past century.
The hall will be housed at the John Bragg Mass Communication Building in the Center for Innovation in Media.
“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,” Mayor 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.
MTSU professor Dr. Larry Burriss, newspaper columnist Dan Whittle and Penuel “have worked tirelessly” in forming the new hall, Moore added, having served respectively as president, vice president and secretary/treasurer of the Hall of Fame’s founding board of directors.
Immediate past Tennessee Press Association President 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. “The idea was born in a backyard visit four years ago between Dan Whittle and Hooper Penuel, two media professionals who worked together in news for 20 years back when Whittle covered activities of the Tennessee National Guard and Penuel served as chief Guard public information officer.”
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. “Plus, it will regularly bring high-achieving media professionals and their families to our community.”