Triangle staff visits the Chattanooga Times Free Press

2 weeks ago Triangle 0

Written by: Jake Love, staff writer

The Bryan College Triangle staff, communication students and Dr. Reginald Ecarma.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Bryan College Triangle newspaper staff and communication students visited the offices of the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Monday, Sept. 30. 

The students were given a tour of the Chattanooga Times Free Press complex by Mark Kennedy, a columnist for the Times Free Press

Kennedy writes opinion pieces for the Times Free Press as well as a “Life Stories” column, where he interviews people from all walks of life and writes about their stories. 

The first stop on the tour was an area that exhibited various newspaper technologies from different points in history. Among the objects we saw were 100-year-old photographs and a copy Gutenberg press. 

Here, Kennedy taught the students about some of the history of the Times Free Press. The students learned that it’s composed of what were formerly two separate papers, the Chattanooga Times and the Chattanooga Free Press. The paper was owned for over 100 years by the Ochs family, who still famously owns the New York Times.

Today, one thing the Times Free Press does differently from nearly all other news outlets is their opinion page. Kennedy explained that the Times Free Press publishes two opinion pages per issue, one page giving the conservative interpretation on certain issues and the other giving a more liberal interpretation.  

The offices of the Times Free Press.

After talking about the background of the Times Free Press, Kennedy brought the students to the second floor. This floor houses reporters’ and editors’ offices, the copy room, which was formerly the photography room, and the interview room, where former President Barack Obama has been interviewed. 

After this, Kennedy showed the students  the Times Free Press’ printing machine. The machine is four stories tall, cost $40 million and took one year to assemble. 

Sadly, it only runs at night, so the group saw the beast in its mere dormant state. 

The Times Free Press printing machine.

To finish out the tour, the group sat in on a meeting with the editors as they discussed what their writers were working on for that day’s issue; some of the stories were about crime and the Ironman race. 

They followed this by having a discussion with the group of students about ethics, factuality and audience in journalism. 

The editors discussed with the group how plagiarism was not something they took lightly. They told them about plagiarism issues they’d had in the past, and how easy Google has made it to spot plagiarism.

This is especially important as the Times Free Press continues to broaden their accessibility on the internet and social media, their primary market of news. 

They also discussed the editing process with the group. Editors like to discuss stories in-depth with their writers before they start reporting, and a lack of this sort of communication can lead to a poor or unexpected story. 

Additionally, the editors explained that reporters must approach each story with the exact same commitment to quality and factuality, whether it’s interviewing a government official or covering a high school football game. 

“Your standards have got to be the same whether you’re a weekly paper or the major metropolitan paper in the world’s largest city,” said chief photographer Robin Rudd. 

Students sit in on meeting with the Times Free Press editors.

Moreover, the editors shared with the group that they love bringing news to their local community. 

“The truth of the matter is, what’s going on in your backyard right now is far more important [than national news],” said design editor Matt McClain. “It’s what’s going on in your city, what your city laws look like, and how things are shaping in your own hometown.” 

The Times Free Press offers subscriptions to their daily papers, and is also accessible at www.timesfreepress.com

Jake Love is a staff writer for the Triangle. He is an English major with an emphasis on creative writing and commutes from Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. He enjoys reading and consuming large amounts of caffeine.