Gerber: The Choo Choo , '42,' more Web offerings

Gerber: The Choo Choo , '42,' more Web offerings

April 7th, 2013 by Alison Gerber in Opinion Columns

It's spring and time for America's favorite pastime. So it's fitting that the Chattanooga region is abuzz with talk about the film "42."

After all, the historical baseball drama was filmed partly at local landmark Engel Stadium and many locals were extras. It's already been dubbed Oscar bait by a few critics. And it's about an American icon: Jackie Robinson, the first black player to break the major league color barrier in 1947. Plus it stars Indiana Jones, people. (Harrison Ford plays Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey).

Check out today's front-page story by Barry Courter about the significance of the film and check out the paper Friday (april 12), the day the movie opens, for a special section packed with photos, stories and fun facts about Robinson, Engel Stadium's storied past and hopeful future, and the movie industry here.

As buzz builds, the Chattanooga Times Free Press is sponsoring a special "42" premiere at the Majestic 12 on Thursday (april 11). Part of Broad Street will be closed off, and there will be baseball- and film-related activities open to the public. The movie will be screened at 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the theater.


For those of you too pressed for time to take in all the stories in the paper, watch Harrison Keely's Top 5 video report at every day at 7 a.m. Keely highlights five top things to know in Chattanooga every day, and keeps it to under five minutes. Keely's newscasts include a mix of hard news, big stories and pop culture. Recent Top 5 videos have featured a variety of topics ... coverage of homicides ... a proposal to overhaul Tennessee's pension plan ... Georgia's maneuvering to get water from the Tennessee River ... plans for a new park where food trucks could congregate ... the fact that Sofa King Juicy Burgers ran out of everything except fries and beer after diners packed it out on opening day. Plus, Keely ends with each day's weather.

Keely, a member of the Times Free Press web team and our "new media" guru, also has started popping out onto city streets and chatting with folks about, well, all sorts of things for his StreetChatt videos.

A recent StreetChatt featured Chattanoogans answering questions about whether they could sing the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" song and, although that swing hit is a source of pride for the city, some had not heard of it. Others managed to stay on tune while singing, "Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo? Track 29!"

Another StreetChatt asked how many people live in the city of Chattanooga. Guesses ranged from "a few thousand" to 800,000. The city's population is actually 170,000.

The newspaper's new multimedia reporter, Chattanooga native Mary Helen Miller, also is producing audio slideshows and other content for the newspaper's website. Check out her "Right Side Round Table," where Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and others answer a question posed by Free Press Editor Drew Johnson: What will Littlefield's legacy be?

In the future, we'll also be doing the same kind of questions on the Times side of the op/ed section.

Work by Keely and Miller will add to the news, sports, photos and other offerings already on, a complement to the newspaper itself and a way to give readers multiple options for getting their daily doses of information.