Who We Are
The Times Free Press has served its community for a century and a half, since 1869 when the Chattanooga Daily Times was created.
Today the paper reaches the largest audience of any media outlet in the Chattanooga region and serves readers in Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama.
The paper’s daily newspaper appeals to a diverse audience, partly due to its unique editorial structure offering both liberal and conservative editorial pages. The Times Free Press has consistently been acknowledged for superior news reporting and overall journalistic excellence, including receiving the top Tennessee Press Association award, General Excellence, five times in the past six years; spots on the “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” list; and the top award in a Society of Professional Journalists’ contest among 11 Southeastern states. The newspaper has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize three times since 2013.
In addition to the daily newspaper, the parent Chattanooga Publishing Company publishes ChattanoogaNow, a weekly entertainment tabloid; three community newspapers; and three magazines, Chatter, Edge and GetOut.
The Times Free Press also produces community events that attract various audiences including high school athletes, foodies, local business owners, young professionals and health care professionals. The company also has its own digital marketing agency, Flypaper, which specializes in online marketing, web design, social engagement, e-commerce and search engine optimization.
How We Started
The Chattanooga Daily Times was founded in 1869 but struggled until 1878 when Adolph Ochs bought a half interest in the paper. Under Ochs’ promise “to give the news impartially, without fear or favor,” the newspaper’s circulation began to grow, and in 1880 Ochs assumed full ownership of The Chattanooga Times.
By 1890, Ochs bought the New York Times and transformed it into the most influential paper in the world.
Although Ochs moved to New York, he never entirely left Chattanooga. He remained The Chattanooga Times’ publisher until his death in 1935. The Chattanooga Times stayed in the Sulzberger-Ochs family until 1999.
The major competing paper in Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Free Press, was founded in 1933 by Roy Ketner McDonald. It began as a weekly paper, but its rapid rise in popularity led McDonald to turn the Free Press into a daily paper like the Chattanooga Times in 1936.
The Chattanooga Times and the Chattanooga Free Press kept up a healthy competition for decades.
In 1998, the McDonald family sold the Free Press to Walter E. Hussman Jr., a third-generation newspaper publisher from Arkansas.
In 1999, Hussman also bought The Chattanooga Times and united the two papers under the title it bears to this day, the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He pledged to keep both the liberal Times editorial page and the conservative Free Press editorial page. Today the newspaper circulates in 16 counties in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. It is still owned by Hussman’s company, WEHCO Media, Inc.
The newspaper still carries Ochs’ promise, “to give the news impartially, without fear or favor,” on its front page every day.
Our Statement of Core Values
“To give the news impartially, without fear or favor.” (Adolph Ochs, 1858-1935)
Impartiality means reporting, editing, and delivering the news honestly, fairly, objectively, and without personal opinion or bias.
Credibility is the greatest asset of any news medium, and impartiality is the greatest source of credibility.
To provide the most complete report, a news organization must not just cover the news, but uncover it. It must follow the story wherever it leads, regardless of any preconceived ideas on what might be most newsworthy.
The pursuit of truth is a noble goal of journalism. But the truth is not always apparent or known immediately. Journalists’ roles are therefore not to determine what they believe at that time to be the truth and reveal only that to their readers, but rather to report as completely and impartially as possible all verifiable facts so that readers can, based on their own knowledge and experience, determine what they believe to be the truth.
When a newspaper delivers both news and opinions, the impartiality and credibility of the news organization can be questioned. To minimize this as much as possible there needs to be a sharp and clear distinction between news and opinion, both to those providing and consuming the news.
“A newspaper has five constituencies, including first its readers, then advertisers, then employees, then creditors, then shareholders. As long as the newspaper keeps those constituencies in that order, especially its readers first, all constituencies will be well served.” (Walter Hussman, 1906-1988)
— Walter E. Hussman, Jr.