Stanley R. Tiner
|Stanley Ray Tiner|
August 22, 1942 |
Springhill, Louisiana, US
|Residence||Gulfport, Mississippi, US|
|Alma mater||Louisiana Tech University|
|Occupation||Former executive editor of The Sun Herald in Biloxi-Gulfport; journalist|
|Spouse(s)||Veronica Jo "Vickie" Thibodeaux Tiner (born 1947)|
|Parent(s)||Elmer Ray and Nannie Lea "Nancy" Randolph Tiner|
Stanley Ray Tiner, known as Stan Tiner (born August 22, 1942), is the former executive editor and vice president of The Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi-Gulfport, Mississippi, a post he held from May 2000 to August 31, 2015. He previously served briefly as the executive editor of The Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City and as editor of the Press-Register in Mobile, Alabama.
Under Tiner's editorship, The Sun Herald won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for public service because of its coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Tiner dedicated the Pulitzer gold medal to the people of South Mississippi for their perseverance in the wake of such massive adversity.
Tiner joined the Mobile Press-Register at the invitation of its publisher, Howard Bronson, the former publisher of The Shreveport Times worked to turn around a newspaper with "a dismal reputation in journalism circles and the community." At The Press-Register, Tiner in 1995 was a judge on a five-person panel to select the winning editorial for the Pulitzer Prize that year.
Early years, education, military
Tiner was born to Elmer Ray Tiner (1908–2010), an oil refinery worker, and the former Nannie Lea "Nancy" Randolph (1918-2011) in Springhill in northern Webster Parish just south of the Arkansas state line.
Ray Tiner was a native of rural Tyro in Lincoln County in southeastern Arkansas, a son of John Bunyan and Lula Mat Tiner. John Bunyan Tiner, Stanley Tiner's grandfather, operated a gristmill and blacksmith shop with other family members. Ray Tiner attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello, then Arkansas A&M College, where he played football and captained the Boll Weevil basketball team. On the university's centennial in 2009, Ray Tiner served as grand marshal of the homecoming parade.
Stanley Tiner was reared in Cotton Valley, where he was the first-grade reporter for The Cotton Valley Wildcat, and after 1950 in Shreveport in Caddo Parish, the largest city in north Louisiana. In 1960, he graduated from Fair Park High School there. He has a sister and brother-in-law, Betty T. and Don Fulgium of Shreveport.
Tiner served in the United States Marines and fought for thirteen months in the Vietnam War. He was trained at Parris Island, South Carolina, and was a combat correspondent with the 3rd Marine Division. Having been reared in a segregationist society, Tiner recalled having been "thrown together in boot camp, black and white people from the South. All of that made a very profound impact on me, to see black Marines getting shot and dying for their country. I came back with the very clear idea that something's not right about this, that it was time to change how we did things in this country."
In 1969, Tiner received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. He was the editor during his senior year of The Tech Talk, the student newspaper, and studied under journalism chairperson Wiley W. Hilburn, who instructed him to bring current political issues into the newspaper. A long-time editorial writer for The Shreveport Times, Hilburn was subsequently inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield because of his expertise in Louisiana politics. Tiner was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tiner is a former chapter president of the Society of Professional Journalists, formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi. As the student newspaper editor, Tiner tapped Reginald Owens as the first African-American staff member. Owens now heads the Tech journalism department.
A political reporter
Tiner began his newspaper career at the since defunct afternoon daily, the Texarkana Daily News in Texarkana, and the Minden Press-Herald, a small daily which specializes in local news, in Minden, the seat of government of Tiner's native Webster Parish. He was the Press-Herald managing editor from September 1969 until March 1970, when he left to join the staff of The Shreveport Times.
At The Times, he became the newspaper's chief political correspondent and covered the 1971–72 gubernatorial campaign from which Edwin Edwards became the dominant political figure in Louisiana for the remainder of the 20th century. Edwards, after having barely secured the Democratic nomination over then State Senator and later U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., of Shreveport, faced a stronger-than expected Republican challenge waged by the then Metairie lawyer and later U.S. Representative and Governor David C. Treen. Tiner soon became, like the late John Maginnis (author of The Louisiana Hayride) one of the resident experts on the flamboyant Edwards and Louisiana politics in general.
The Shreveport Journal
In 1974, Tiner, then thirty-two, was recruited from The Times to become the editor of the afternoon daily, The Shreveport Journal, published by Douglas F. Attaway. The Journal was the smaller of the two Shreveport papers and was struggling to remain competitive. Tiner was seen as the "new blood" the paper needed. In 1976, the Attaways sold the paper to the Shreveport industrialist Charles T. Beaird, an intellectual and a philanthropist. Beaird, a liberal Republican, and Tiner, a liberal Democrat, moved The Journal to the political left, far from its previous conservative and segregationist editorials, many penned by the former editor George W. Shannon during the Attaway tenure.
While at The Journal, Tiner offered an editorial position to former Mayor James C. Gardner, later the president of the first city council under the mayor-council government and also the vice-president of the Southwestern Electric Power Company. Gardner turned him down because of salary and retirement considerations, but Tiner often held up Gardner as his idea of a "model" public official. He wrote a lengthy editorial on Gardner's legacy as "Mr. Shreveport" when the councilman decided not to seek reelection in 1982.
Tiner stayed with Beaird until the fall of 1987, when he resigned as The Journal editor to mount an unsuccessful campaign to capture Louisiana's 4th congressional district seat. After the congressional race, he became a public relations spokesman for a natural gas company. The Journal closed in 1991 but operated as an editorial page within The Shreveport Times until the last day of 1999. Beaird died in 2006.
Tiner and Edwards
Tiner was known for his inside sources in the Louisiana political world. For instance, after the 1983 gubernatorial race in which Edwards unseated Treen to win a third nonconsecutive term, Tiner reported on a controversial conversation that he had with the Louisiana legend. Tiner found three books in Edwards' possession: a Bible, a copy of Playboy magazine, and Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville. Tiner asked Edwards, a Roman Catholic who had once been a Nazarene preacher, if he believed in the Christian concept of Jesus Christ sacrificing Himself for the sins of mankind, undergoing crucifixion on a Roman cross, and then resurrection from the dead. Edwards told Tiner that he did NOT believe in the essence of the Christian faith and that he doubted that he would go to heaven after death. "I think Jesus died, but I don’t believe He came back to life because that's too much against natural law. I’m not going around preaching this, but He may have swooned, passed out, or almost died, and when He was taken down, with superhuman strength, after a period of time He may have revived Himself and come back to life," Edwards told Tiner. Reports of Edwards' revelations, however, surfaced AFTER the 1983 campaign, and the disclosures, which angered many conservative Christians, did not stop him from winning yet a fourth term eight years later.
On Long, Roemer, and Duke
In 1986, Tiner opined that retiring U.S. Senator Russell B. Long may have stepped aside from seeking a seventh full six-year term because Long may have been unseated by Republican U.S. Representative Henson Moore of Baton Rouge. Long's successor, John Breaux, also a U.S. representative at the time from Crowley, however, defeated Moore in the general election. Moore had led in the nonpartisan blanket primary. Long said that he merely wanted to have a few years of retirement while the calendar was still somewhat favorable to him. Long lived until 2003.
In 1991, Tiner noted in an interview that the returning Edwin Edwards, poised to win his fourth and final term as governor, was dependent on disillusioned supporters of former Governor Buddy Roemer, a Democrat-turned-Republican, to provide victory over then State Representative David Duke, the one-time figure in the Ku Klux Klan who was opposed by nearly two thirds of Louisiana voters. According to Tiner, "The Duke vote is impenetrable. It's going to be there even if a tidal wave rolls across the state. Edwards is dependent on the Roemer voters who despised him four years ago -- he was the dragon Buddy Roemer promised to slay. That's a pretty scary prospect if you're sitting in Edwards's seat." As it turned out, Tiner appeared to have overrated Duke's electoral appeal in 1991, and Roemer's father had been Edwards' first campaign manager commissioner of administration in the first two Edwards terms.
Tiner's own campaign
Tiner himself ran for the U.S. House in a special election held on March 8, 1988, the same day as the presidential primaries. The opening developed when Roemer vacated his Fourth Congressional District seat to become governor. Roemer endorsed Tiner as his preferred successor.
In his statement of candidacy, Tiner declared that people were looking for a "non-politician" to serve in Congress. He continued:
I am not going to follow the old rules. Rather I'm going to do everything in my power to bring change to this state, and I am willing to risk my fortune and my future in behalf of this ideal. ... The politics of our state is corrupted by far too much money. ... I will neither collect money from political action committees nor will I pay out money to political organizations in order to receive endorsements or election day campaign favors."
With his aberrant approach to Louisiana politics, the Democrat Tiner ran third with 19,567 votes (16 percent). In the runoff election held in April between Republican Jim McCrery, a former aide to Roemer, and Democrat Foster Campbell, then a state senator and later a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and a 2007 gubernatorial candidate. Tiner trailed Campbell, a self-styled "populist" by 4,653 ballots and was hence eliminated from the second round of balloting. Tiner finished second to McCrery in Caddo Parish and third to Campbell and McCrery in both Bossier and Webster parishes. McCrery then prevailed with 50.2 percent of the vote the following month in a runoff election with Campbell and held the seat until his retirement in January 2009.
Some had wondered if Tiner's liberal newspaper editorials had cost him potential votes in the congressional race. Tiner said that he had not expected his editorials to become a campaign issue. When the editorials became part of the campaign, Tiner called himself "a conservative with a heart", a designation like what George W. Bush would late dub as "compassionate conservatism". When Tiner was questioned about a change in his position to support navigation of the Red River and American aid to the Contras in Nicaragua, he said that the previous opposition to both proposals came from the Shreveport Journal editorial board, not himself: "The Shreveport Journal is not running for Congress. ... I'm coming out from behind the printing press ... two years from now the people will be able to see what I am."
One of Tiner's controversial editorials ran in 1987, when he had publicly praised David O. Connelly (born ca. 1952), a native of Ohio and the arts critic of the The Shreveport Journal for having declared Connelly's homosexuality in a newspaper column at a time before such disclosures became common. Tiner added that he could recall no other "person of standing" making such a declaration in Shreveport, which he noted in 1865 had briefly been the last capital of the Confederate States of America and hence a symbol of southern conservatism. Tiner said that Connelly's declaration could be helpful in fostering awareness of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
First Amendment issues
Tiner took a leadership role in the American Society of Newspaper Editors as chairperson of the Freedom of Information Committee. He became vocal in his support of First Amendment issues: "ASME embraces the long American tradition of open courts and open trials., The press serves as a surrogate to the public. The American public can’t be crammed into a trial room. The press represents the public at the trial. Newspaper editors are troubled by what appears to be an overzealous emphasis on privacy bordering on secrecy in the courtroom."
In 2006, Tiner addressed an American Press Institute seminar in Reston, Virginia, in which he discussed how The Sun Herald covered the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He invited media representatives to come to the Gulfport-Biloxi metropolitan area to see firsthand the impact of the storm. API president Andrew B. Davis noted that newspaper executives need "leadership skills to deal with a wide spectrum of chaotic management scenarios," as the devastation of Katrina so proved.
Encouraging student journalists
Tiner often encouraged journalism students in colleges and universities. At The Press-Register, he teamed with the University of Alabama Journalism Department in Tuscaloosa to produce Alabama’s Black Belt, a 20-page special section on the old Cotton Kingdom of the state. Associate Professor Bailey Thomson, a former newsman from Shreveport, and a team of advanced undergraduate and graduate students spent six months immersed in the life of three Black Belt counties. The students reported on the area economy, culture, and politics. Press Register assistant editor Dewey English coached the classes on in-depth reporting and helped to edit the stories for publication. The Press-Register staff laid out the stories and photos, and the paper ran the project on January 18, 1998.
"We have tried to do two things: encourage students to think of journalism as a grand opportunity for public service, and to promote a deeper understanding of a remarkable region that struggles to adapt to changing times," wrote Tiner in his introduction to the project.
Upon retirement from The Sun Herald in 2015, Tiner indicated that he will continue to pursue writing projects long on his mind but for which he has not previously had the time.
The Tiner family
Tiner resides in Gulfport with his wife, the former Veronica Jo "Vickie" Thibodeaux (born June 23, 1947), the daughter of Robert and Irene Thibodeaux from Church Point in Acadia Parish. The Tiner children include Mark Gerard Tiner of Washington, D.C., Jon Stuart Tiner, a Gulfport attorney born in 1970 in Shreveport, and his wife, Betsy Sadie Tiner, and Heather Nicole Tiner Liles of Baton Rouge (born ca. 1973). A third son, Sean, died shortly after birth. The Tiners have four granddaughters. Tiner described himself in a 1987 interview as, like his father, a "dedicated Baptist".
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