Alex Jones, who was born and raised in Greeneville, Tennessee, has come out with a sobering look at the state of news in our country. He describes himself in the prologue of the book thusly: “I am in the fourth generation of a newspaper-owning family in Greeneville, Tennessee, and I knew the secret prides and anxieties that go with being in the clan that owns the local newspaper. My family still owns and operates the Greeneville Sun, circulation about 15,000, where my father is publisher and my two brothers and brother-in-law go to work every day.”
My sister, Carol Bradley, worked at the Greeneville Sun for a few years, and is mentioned on page 118 of the book, where she is described as “pretty and polite, looked younger than her years, and was one of the best reporters I’ve ever known, in part because the state legislators and other powerful figures she covered thought that being pretty and sweet was all there was to her. She was also tough and relentless, and could extract the most astonishing information from officials who later could not believe that this nice young woman would be so mean as to report what they said and did.”
Alex was a Neiman Fellow at Harvard, where I got to know him. He covered the press for The New York Times and won a Pulitzer, then left and wrote a book about the Ochs/Sulzberger family who came from Tennessee to make The New York Times into the best newspaper in the world. He now directs Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy.
As they would say back home, Alex has done good.