published Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Griscom resigning as newspaper's chief

Tom Griscom, executive editor and publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, announced on Wednesday that he will resign, effective June 30.

"The opportunity to build the merged newspaper in this community has been a unique experience," Mr. Griscom said. "In a changing media world, it has been gratifying that our readers continue to enjoy the printed newspapers as we expand into other digital formats."

Walter Hussman, president and CEO of Wehco Media Inc., the parent of the Times Free Press, said, "I am pleased with the progress that has been made in Chattanooga. I appreciate the nearly 11 years that Tom has led the newsroom here. He has done an outstanding job, and we hope to find another editor as capable and competent."

Mr. Griscom became executive editor of the Times Free Press in 1999 after the two Chattanooga newspapers -- the Chattanooga Free Press and The Chattanooga Times -- had merged earlier that year under the ownership of Mr. Hussman. He later was named by Mr. Hussman to also serve as publisher for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Mr. Griscom came to the Times Free Press after a career that included serving as director of communications at the White House while Sen. Howard Baker was chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan.

He also served as an executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco in Winston-Salem, N.C., and had been press secretary for Sen. Baker when he served as a U.S. senator from Tennessee.

Mr. Griscom is a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate who served much of the 1970s as political reporter for the Chattanooga News-Free Press.

He has served in key community roles, including as chairman of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. He also has been president of the Tennessee Press Association.

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valuer said...

As a former News Free Press reporter who worked with Tom in the mid-70's, I am saddened to see his departure. Under his leadership, the combined Times and Free Press has consistently distinguished itself as one of the best mid-sized daily papers in the nation. Extent of coverage, diversity, competency of writing staff and overall commitment to quality news coverage have been trademarks of the city's newspaper under Griscom. One need look no further than the press associations: the paper consistently leads the region in awards and recognitions from its peers. In an era when absentee corporate ownership has traded quality journalism for profits, Chattanooga can take pride in having one of the better papers in the nation among cities of our size. Kudos to Tom for a decade-plus of quality journalism. His departure will be our loss. Rlpatton@comcast.net, Hixson

May 27, 2010 at 9:50 a.m.
harrystatel said...

Sorry, but Chattanooga's newspaper is but a shadow of journalism's past glories.

I can't remember any TFP investigative reporting of government fraud and corruption, crooked politicians, scandalous car dealers, banks and mortgage companies flim-flams,and the list goes on and on.

Why? Because the TFP is reactive at best, and in cahoots at worst with their cronies who buy advertising, peddle influence, and pull the strings.

The great days of newspaper investigations is over. The TFP reports after the fact, but does not inquire, does not rock the boat, but is content to promote fluff over substance.

With rare exception, the TPF (and they're not the only newspaper who does this) is driven by advertising revenue, not public interest. Mustn't p.o. the advertisers and the puppet-masters.

Remember when newspapers broke noteworthy investigations? I do. Unfortunately, the TFP has chosen to seek revenue at the expense of true investigative work.

It's sad to say, but the TFP's continued decline as a voice of public interest is inevitable unless there's a drastic overhaul from the top down.

I don't think Mr. Roy would be pleased to see this sad state of affairs.

May 27, 2010 at 10:33 a.m.
southriverco said...

I would like to repost my comment from yesterday.

Tom Griscom is a hometown boy done good, and his stewardship of the Times Free Press will be sorely missed. He is a forward thinker who has modeled his newsroom to adapt to the constant changes in news delivery and media culture. With so many papers in bankruptcy, if they survive at all, the TFP is making it.

Two things stand out to me during Tom’s tenure at the paper. The TFP sets the standard for statewide political reporting, but much more important is the fortitude he demonstrated under fire. When a TFP reporter embedded with the 278th ACR in Iraq reported on the lack of armor on Humvees, it set off a series of events that made the Pentagon scramble for cover. Many people may have buckled under the heat but the story was right on target, forced the DoD to ramp up vehicle retrofits, and saved American lives.

May you have the best of luck in your future endeavors, and thank you for all you have done for Chattanooga, Tennessee, and our entire nation.

May 27, 2010 at 11:12 a.m.
valuer said...

"I don't think Mr. Roy would be pleased to see this sad state of affairs" Mr. Statel, you've got to be kidding, at best! Mr. Roy's philosophy was one of "happy news": publish all the garden club photos, write about Farmer Brown's big pumpkin. Investigative in-depth reporting was not in his vocabulary. And, yes, I agree with you, the current version of our daily newspaper does little, if any, in the way of investigative journalism, but they do one hell of a job of comprehensive, thorough news coverage presented and written in a very professional mannter. We are not New York nor Washington, and investigative journalism in a city of this size is a luxury in which the print industry seldom indulges. yes, there certainly is a profit motive, but have you seen the sad state of the state's largest newspaper, The Tennessean? Once the spawning ground for some great journalists and a few Pulitzers, it has become little more than a wire service rag--and now costs one dollar at the rack! Corporate consolidation and acquisitions have changed the face of print journalism as has the weak economy of the past few years. With so many media competing for readers' attention, our culture has changed and the print world has suffered terribly as a result. I for one thought that Griscom did an excellent job leading the paper through a very difficult time. I hope his successor does half the job he did. Ron Patton

May 27, 2010 at 11:29 p.m.

Harry and Ron Patton have very good points. Objective, fair-minded Journalism is a thing of the past yet, all is not lost. Journalism has had a rocky history and bias/prejudice is part of the human 'condition'. Where we once had, long ago, the independent 'rag' pieced together by wayward "journalists", plying their trade on the hard streets of reality, we now have a cleverly (but not unbiased) put-together news-paper that does indeed rely on the NYT and AP for the daily slanted 'news' of the day.

Newspapers, fortunately or not, depending on one's opinion, are a business and as a business TFP has succeeded to a degree that many others have not. The merging of two papers may have been very annoying to its readers once upon a time, yet it seems to have been proven to work pretty well so far.

Advertisers are an ugly necessity in order to run a business. The ugly result may be a pandering to them, a sort of bias in the editorial writing, etc., yet for whatever reason, the internet and news bloggers/The Drudge Report et al have risen in prominence and maybe rightly so.

Readers crave more than slanted, one-sided views and truncated opinion, bits and bytes of nothing. We need access to many views, many perspectives and to the whole world 'out there', not just the corner we live in. If not, we will fall back into narrow parochialism, maybe a happier state that. Yet surely, a much dumber one.

TFP on the whole is doing a better job than many I've seen and read, so hopefully, they will be able to continue to improve.

May 28, 2010 at 12:07 a.m.
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