Gerber: Some stories get stuck on simmer

Gerber: Some stories get stuck on simmer

April 13th, 2014 by Alison Gerber in Opinion Columns

Some news stories seem immortal; they just never die; there's always one more angle that needs to be explored or a new twist pops up to reanimate them.

In the Times Free Press newsroom, we used to joke about the never-ending fight to get federal funding for the Chickamauga Lock. It became one of those immortal stories. We've written hundreds of stories that mention the lock.

Well, it seems we have a new contender for the story-that-will-never-die title: the VW/UAW saga, which has had more twists and turns than the Tennessee River.

Of course, the VW story is a more engaging story than the lock (sorry, Zach Wamp), but let's face it, stories about infrastructure are important, yet hardly ever gripping to the average reader (unless the infrastructure is the pothole-filled street in front of your house).

The VW story, however, has it all: Jobs, economic importance, European-American relations, sleek cars and, of course, the age-old tension between labor and big business -- although there's a great deal of murkiness around that last part in the VW case.

The vote on unionization at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant -- workers voted 712 to 626 against aligning with the United Auto Workers -- became an international news story. Events since then, including the vote appeal and subsequent revelation that the administration of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam linked a $300 million incentive package to the union vote, have ensured that the story isn't going anywhere.

And last week, Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee's junior senator and former mayor of Chattanooga, were subpoenaed by the UAW for a hearing on its appeal of the vote.

Mike Pare, who covers VW and the auto industry for the Times Free Press, will keep reporting on every new turn, supported by Business Editor Dave Flessner. Pare and Flessner both have a wealth of knowledge about the auto industry and do top-notch work. Count on them to stay on top of the story -- no matter how long it drags on.

You can also visit timesfreepress.com/uaw for stories and photos.

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Sports Editor Jay Greeson and reporter David Uchiyama spent the past few days on a tough assignment -- covering the Masters at Augusta National, a place Greeson described this way in a tweet on Thursday:

"Have landed at God's gift to golf -- Augusta National. Or is it golf's gift to God?"

Turn to the Sports section for Greeson and Uchiyama's coverage of Saturday's action at the Masters. You'll find their coverage of today's final day at timesfreepress.com and in Monday's newspaper. Follow @jgreesontfp and @UchiyamaCTFP for tweets and commentary from Augusta.

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Times Free Press Editorial Cartoonist Clay Bennett has been awarded the 2014 Grambs Aronson Award for cartooning.

The Aronson Award is administered by the Hunter College Department of Film and Media Studies and named for the late James Aronson, a Hunter College professor and a founder and editor The National Guardian. The cartooning award recognizes Aronson's his widow, Grambs Aronson, a visual artist.

Bennett also was named a finalist this year for the 2014 Herblock Prize, awarded annually by the Herb Block Foundation for "distinguished examples of editorial cartooning that exemplify the courageous independent standard set by Herblock," the pen name of three-time Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist Herbert Block, who died in 2001.

The National Cartoonists Society has also named Bennett a finalist for the 2014 NCS Editorial Cartoonist Award.

Alison Gerber is editor of the Times Free Press. Contact her atagerber@timesfreepress.com