The Tennessean

From Academic Kids

The Tennessean is a dominant daily newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee. In late 2002, it had a daily circulation of 183,978, and a Sunday circulation of 255,363.

Its circulation area covers 39 counties in Middle Tennessee and 8 counties in southern Kentucky.

It is owned by the Gannett Corporation, and is affiliated with a number of other smaller community newspapers in Middle Tennessee, including the Dickson Herald, the Gallatin News-Examiner, the Hendersonville Star-News, the Fairview Observer, and the Ashland City Times. Its circulation area also overlaps with that of the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle and the Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal, two other independent Gannett papers.

The company publishes several specialty publications including the Nashville Record, All The Rage (a weekly, entertainment-oriented publication), and Nashville Lifestyles magazine. It publishes Davidson AM, Williamson AM, and Rutherford AM, local supplements covering these counties.

The paper's primary print competitors are the Nashville City Paper, the Nashville Scene and the Nashville Business Journal. In 2004 Gannett announced the acquisition of the Franklin Review-Appeal, and the Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal from Morris Multimedia. The Review-Appeal became a supplement of The Tennessean, while the Daily News Journal continued to operate as an independent newspaper.

The newspaper participated in a joint operating agreement with the Nashville Banner from 1937 until the Banner folded in 1998. The two papers operated out of the same building at 1100 Broadway and shared advertising and production staff, but maintained separate (and very distinct) ownership and editorial voices.

The paper maintains two Goss Colorliner presses. In 2002, the paper completed installation of a MAN Roland Uniset press, which is now used to print regional editions of USA Today, as well as commercial printing jobs.

In April 2002 the paper named Leslie Giallombardo as its first female publisher, succeeding Craig Moon who later became publisher of USA Today.

The most recent Editor of the Tennessean was Frank Sutherland, who began his journalism career as a reporter at the paper in the 1960s. He announced his retirement in September, 2004. He was succeeded by Everett J. Mitchell II, the former managing editor of the Detroit News. Mitchell is the first African-American editor of The Tennessean.


The Tennessean, Nashville's primary daily newspaper, traces its roots back to the Nashville Whig, a weekly paper that began publication on September 1, 1812. The paper is involved in various mergers and acquisitions throughout the 19th century, eventually emerging as the Nashville American.

The first issue of the Nashville Tennessean was printed on Sunday May 12, 1907. The paper was founded by Col. Luke Lea, a 28-year-old attorney and local political activist.

In 1910, the publishers purchased a controlling interest in the Nashville American, and began publishing an edition known as The Tennessean American. The American formally folded in 1911, with some of its employees banding together to found the Nashville Democrat. This paper was purchased by the Tennessean in 1913.

In 1931, Col. Luke Lea and his son Luke Lea Jr. were indicted for their role in the failure of the Central Bank and Trust Co. of Asheville, North Carolina. On March 3, 1933, the newspaper was placed under federal receivership, and Ashland City attorney and former Tennessean editorial writer Littleton J. Pardue was appointed to direct the paper. Under his leadership circulation grew swiftly, but the newspaper continued to lose money.

In 1935, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation acquired a large portion of the paper's outstanding bonds, which it eventually sold to Paul Davis, president of the First American National Bank of Nashville.

The paper was sold at auction in 1937, and was purchased for $850,000 by Silliman Evans, Sr. a former reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Evans came to an agreement with Banner publisher James Stahlman to move both newspapers into new offices at 1100 Broadway, and to create the Newspaper Printing Corporation as a business agent for both papers. As part of this agreement, the Tennessean ceased publication of its evening editions, and the Banner ceased publication of its Sunday edition.

On June 2, 1955, Silliman Evans Jr. was named president of the paper. After his father died unexpectedly of a heart attack on June 26, the board of the paper elected him publisher, and he became president of the Newspaper Printing Corporation in August.

In 1957, Tennessean cartoonist Tom Little won a Pulitzer Prize for his cartoon encouraging parents to have their children vaccinated against polio.

In 1961, Silliman Evans Jr. died of a heart attack at age 36 while on his boat on Old Hickory Lake. Ownership of the newspaper passed to his mother, and several months later his brother Amon Carter Evans was named Chief Executive of the paper.

Tennessean reporters Nat Caldwell and Gene Graham won a Pulitzer Prize in 1962 "[f]or their exclusive disclosure and six years of detailed reporting, under great difficulties, of the undercover cooperation between management interests in the coal industry and the United Mine Workers." In the same year, John Seigenthaler was named editor of the newspaper. He would earn the additional title of publisher in 1972.

In 1972, the Gannett Corporation purchased the Nashville Banner from the Stahlman family. In 1979, Gannett sold the Banner to a group of local investors including political figure John Jay Hooker, businessman Brownlee Currey and Franklin banker Irby Simpkins for about $25 million. It then purchased the Tennessean from the Evans family for about $50 million. John Seigenthaler became president, publisher, and editor of the Gannett-owned Tennessean.

In 1989, Frank Sutherland was named editor. He had begun his career as a reporter at the paper in 1963. John Seigenthaler retired as publisher in 1991, and was replaced by Craig Moon. Seigentaler took the title "Chairman Emeritus."

The Nashville Banner published its last edition on February 20, 1998. In September, 1998, the paper launched, its daily news and information website.

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