Chattanooga Times Free Press

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Chattanooga Times Free Press
The October 27, 2010, front page of the
Chattanooga Times Free Press
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)WEHCO Media, Inc.
PublisherEliza Hussman Gaines
PresidentAlton A. Brown
EditorAlison Gerber
FoundedTimes: 1869
Free Press: 1933
Times Free Press: 1999
Headquarters400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37403
 United States

The Chattanooga Times Free Press is a daily broadsheet newspaper published in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is distributed in the metropolitan Chattanooga region of southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia. It is one of Tennessee's major newspapers and is owned by WEHCO Media, Inc., a diversified communications company with ownership in 14 daily newspapers, 11 weekly newspapers and 13 cable television companies in six states.


Chattanooga Times[edit]

The Chattanooga Times was first published on December 15, 1869, by the firm Kirby & Gamble. In 1878, 20-year-old Adolph Ochs borrowed money and bought half interest in the struggling morning paper.[1] Two years later when he assumed full ownership, it cost him $5,500.[2] In 1892, the paper's staff moved to the Ochs Building on Georgia Avenue at East Eighth Street, which is now the Dome Building.[citation needed] In 1896, Ochs entrusted the management of the paper to his brother-in-law Harry C. Adler when he purchased The New York Times (circulation 20,000).[citation needed] Ochs remained publisher of the Chattanooga Times. Ochs' slogan, "To give the news impartially, without fear or favor" remains affixed atop the paper's mast today. The Times was controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family until 1999.[3]

Chattanooga Free Press[edit]

In 1933, Roy Ketner McDonald launched a free Thursday tabloid, delivered door to door, featuring stories, comics, and advertisements for his stores. Three years later, circulation had hit 65,000 per week, making some ad revenue. On August 31, the paper began publishing as an evening daily with paid subscriptions. One year later, the Free Press circulation reached 33,000, within reach of another p.m. competitor, The Chattanooga News (circulation 35,000). McDonald acquired The Chattanooga News from George Fort Milton Jr. in December 1939, when the majority bondholders of the News, specifically Milton's step-mother Abby Crawford Milton, and her three children, acted on a technical missed payment deadline of bond payment obligations—allowing them to foreclose on the paper. Despite heroic sacrifice and fundraising by George Fort Milton and his employees, payments to the creditors were rejected as they had already agreed to sell the paper to Roy McDonald, publisher of the rival Free Press, for $150,000.[4] McDonald then appropriated the News name to prevent Milton from using it,[5] and the Free Press became the News-Free Press. In their guide to writing, The Elements of Style, William Strunk and E. B. White used the paper as an illustration of comically misleading punctuation, noting that the hyphen made it sound "as though the paper were news-free, or devoid of news."[6]

Competition and agreement[edit]

By 1941, News-Free Press daily circulation reached 51,600, surpassing the Times, with 50,078. In competition, the Times began an evening newspaper competitor, the Chattanooga Evening Times. One year later, however, the competing newspapers joined business and production operations, while maintaining separate news and editorial departments. The Times ceased publishing in the evening and the News-Free Press dropped its Sunday edition. The two shared offices at 117 E. 10th St.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press headquarters

Twenty-four years later, McDonald withdrew from the agreement. He bought the Davenport Hosiery Mills building at 400 E. 11th St. in 1966, and competition resumed between the two papers. The News-Free Press was the first paper in the nation to dissolve a joint operating agreement.[7][8] That August, the day after the News-Free Press resumed Sunday publication, the Times responded with an evening newspaper: the Chattanooga Post.[8] On Feb. 25, 1970, the Post ceased publication after the U.S. filed an anti-trust suit against the paper. The News-Free Press gave Chattanooga its first full-color newspaper photos.

Each newspaper won a single Pulitzer Prize. In 1956, Charles L. Bartlett of the Washington Bureau of The Chattanooga Times won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, for articles leading to the resignation of the secretary of the Air Force, Harold E. Talbott.[9][10][11] In 1977, staff photographer Robin Hood of the Chattanooga News-Free Press received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. The photo was of legless Vietnam veteran Eddie Robinson in his wheelchair watching a rained-out parade in Chattanooga with his tiny son on his lap.[12][13]

When business declined for the News-Free Press, 14 employees mortgaged their homes to help keep the newspaper afloat. In the late 1970s, Walter E. Hussman Jr., the 31-year-old publisher of the Arkansas Democrat, approached McDonald for counsel regarding a bitter struggle with the Arkansas Gazette. In 1980, the Times and the News-Free Press entered into a new joint operating agreement.[7] In 1990, after leading the paper for 54 years, McDonald died at age 88. Three years later, the paper returned to its original name: the Chattanooga Free Press.[14]

Chattanooga Times Free Press[edit]

In 1998, Hussman bought the Free Press. A year later, he bought the Times as well and merged the two papers. The first edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press was published on January 5, 1999.[15] The Times Free Press runs two editorial pages: one staunchly liberal, the other staunchly conservative, reflecting the editorial leanings of the Times and Free Press, respectively. The Tennessee Press Association recognized the Times Free Press as the best newspaper in Tennessee in 2002. One year later, Editor & Publisher magazine named the Times Free Press as one of 10 newspapers in the United States "doing it right".[16]

In May 2013, the paper bought a new offset printing press to replace its flexography printing press. The multimillion-dollar investment added more color capability and production efficiency.[17] On Monday, April 14, 2014, the Chattanooga Times Free Press was named a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for "Speak No Evil."[18] In 2017, the newspaper was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for "The Poverty Puzzle."[19]

In September 2021, the newspaper started offering a free IPad to all print subscribers as a way to promote the paper's digital replica. The plan was to cease weekday print sometime in mid-2022 and only print once a week on Sundays.[20] In-person tutorials on how to access the paper's digital edition were offered in community recreational centers, hotel conference rooms and at the newsroom.[21]The total investment for the initiative was $6 million.[22]

In March 2024, the newspaper sent a letter to readers announcing it had been running at a loss in recent years due in part to the COVID-19 recession in the United States and was raising subscriptions rates from $34 to $39 a month.[22]


The Times Free Press newsroom.

When the Chattanooga Times Free Press launched its website in 2004, the site was only accessible to paid subscribers and featured only a handful of section pages and links.[23] Four years later, in early 2008, the redesigned online presence of debuted, with an emphasis on breaking news, video and multimedia.[citation needed] The site features all local content in the paper, an online edition of the news product, and classified ads, as well.[citation needed] In late 2010, the newspaper launched "Right 2 Know", an online database of police mugshots, salaries of government employees, and a map of shootings in Hamilton County, but in August 2020, the newspaper removed the database, noting that the information published rarely met the newspaper's editorial standard of newsworthiness.[24]

Other publications[edit]

The Times Free Press is also responsible for several other niche publications:

  • Chatter – a monthly magazine launched in 2008 with feature stories from around the area
  • "Get Out" – a monthly magazine focused on everything outdoor in Chattanooga and the surrounding area
  • "Edge" – a monthly magazine focused on local business
  • Noticias Libres – a free weekly Spanish language paper distributed around the Chattanooga area
  • ChattanoogaNow – a weekend publication distributed in every Thursday's Times Free Press that covers music, movies, dining and arts
  • "Dining Out" – a weekly publication focused on food and restaurants

Current and past publishers and contributors[edit]

  • Jeff Deloach, immediate past president
  • Charles L. Bartlett, reporter, Washington bureau, The Chattanooga Times, 1946–1962. Pulitzer Prize winner for national reporting, 1956, for articles leading to the resignation of Secretary of the Air Force Harold E. Talbott.[9][10]
  • Clay Bennett, editorial cartoonist, combined papers, 2007–. Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning in 2002 at the Christian Science Monitor.
  • Bill Dedman, copy boy, copy editor, reporter for The Chattanooga News-Free Press and then The Chattanooga Times, 1977–1983. Pulitzer Prize winner, investigative reporting, 1989.
  • J. Todd Foster, editor, combined papers, 2010–2011.[25] Editor of the Bristol Herald-Courier when it won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
  • Tom Griscom, executive editor and publisher, combined papers, 1999–2010.
  • Ruth Sulzberger Holmberg, publisher, The Chattanooga Times. Granddaughter of Adolph Ochs, and mother of author Arthur Golden and Michael Golden, publisher of the International Herald Tribune.[26]
  • Robin Hood, photographer, The Chattanooga News-Free Press, 1970s. Pulitzer Prize winner for feature photography,[27] 1977.
  • Roy McDonald, publisher, The Chattanooga Free Press and later The Chattanooga News-Free Press, 1933–1990.
  • Jon Meacham, reporter, The Chattanooga Times, 1991–1992. Pulitzer Prize winner for biography, 2009.
  • Albert Hodges Morehead, reporter, The Chattanooga Times, c. 1930.
  • Alan Murray, reporter, The Chattanooga Times, c. 1977. Assistant managing editor and columnist, The Wall Street Journal.[28]
  • Adolph Ochs, publisher, The Chattanooga Times, 1878–1935. Later publisher of The New York Times. Died on a visit to Chattanooga.
  • Julius Ochs Adler, president and publisher, The Chattanooga Times. General manager of The New York Times.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Adolph Simon Ochs | American newspaper publisher". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  2. ^ Biggers, Jeff (2006). The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment to America. Emeryville, CA: Shoemaker & Heard. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-59376-151-6.
  3. ^ "Chattanooga Times Free Press". Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  4. ^ Miller, George Arnold (December 1983). George Fort Milton: the fight for TVA and the loss of Chattanooga News (Doctoral thesis). Middle Tennessee State University. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 10, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2019 – via JEWLScholar@MTSU.
  5. ^ Collins, J. B. (1981). Life of Roy McDonald, Eighty Years 1901-1981. Chattanooga, TN: Private Publisher. p. 5. OCLC 7867080.
  6. ^ Strunk, William; White, E.B. (2000). "III: A Few Matters of Form". The Elements of Style (Fourth ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. p. 35. ISBN 0-205-30902-X. The hyphen can play tricks on the unwary, as it did in Chattanooga when two newspapers merged--the "News" and the "Free Press." Someone introduced a hyphen into the merger, and the paper became "The Chattanooga News-Free Press," which sounds as though the paper were news-free, or devoid of news.
  7. ^ a b "Newspaper marks 10 years since sales, merger". Chattanooga Times Free Press. January 4, 2009. Archived from the original on July 4, 2018. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Choice Now In Chattanooga". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. August 28, 1966. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Brennan, Elizabeth A.; Clarage, Elizabeth C. (1999). Who's Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners. Phoenix, AZ: The Oryx Press. p. 457. ISBN 1-57356-111-8. Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Shearer, John (April 21, 2009). "Former Chattanoogan Meacham Claims Prestigious Pulitzer Prize". The Chattanoogan. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009.
  11. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes Awards". Archived from the original on April 6, 2011.
  12. ^ "Pulitzer Prizes: News Photography". Archived from the original on March 17, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  13. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes Awards". Archived from the original on April 6, 2011.
  14. ^ "Chattanooga Times Free Press Overview". Chattanooga Times Free Press. 2010. Archived from the original on January 1, 2011. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  15. ^ "WEHCO Media website". Archived from the original on June 12, 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2009.
  16. ^ "Times Free Press website". Archived from the original on January 8, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  17. ^ "Chattanooga Times Free Press to install new press | Chattanooga Times Free Press". Chattanooga Times Free Press. May 3, 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  18. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes".
  19. ^ "Times Free Press named Pulitzer finalist for 'The Poverty Puzzle'". April 10, 2017.
  20. ^ Gerber, Alison (September 11, 2021). "Chattanooga Times Free Press turns to iPads as its digital future". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  21. ^ Izadi, Elahe (November 7, 2021). "This newspaper is cutting back on print and training readers to use iPads instead. Will it work?". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  22. ^ a b "Times Free Press Raising Subscription Rate: Says It Has Been Operating At A Loss". March 4, 2024. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  23. ^ "Times Free Press digital". Archived from the original on January 8, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  24. ^ "The Times Free Press is ending its gallery of mugshots". August 12, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  25. ^ "J. Todd Foster announced as new Times Free Press executive editor". Chattanooga Times Free Press. July 1, 2010. Archived from the original on September 7, 2010.
  26. ^ "Obituary: A. William Holmberg Jr., 81, news executive". The New York Times. July 28, 2005.
  27. ^ Nazor Hill, Karen (November 22, 2010). "Robin Hood's photo book full of back stories". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Archived from the original on September 21, 2011.
  28. ^ "Viewpoints: Alan Murray Bio". The Wall Street Journal. New York. Archived from the original on April 13, 2011.

External links[edit]

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