John Seigenthaler

Honoree, Tennessean of the Year
Year Honored:
Peabody College, Harvard University


The name John Seigenthaler is well-known in the state of Tennessee. The distinguished and respected journalist and first amendment educator began his career at “The Tennessean” in 1949. He held virtually every news and editorial position from cub reporter to editor, publisher, and CEO before his retirement in 1991. He was also the editorial director of “USA Today” for ten years. A native of Nashville, Seigenthaler attended Peabody College and Harvard University, where he was a Nieman fellow. During his tenure as editor and publisher of “The Tennessean”, the paper won many national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. In the early 1960s, Seigenthaler was appointed administrative assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy and saw extensive service in the fields of civil rights, organized crime, and the judicial-selection process. The recipient of many honors throughout his illustrious career, including the Sidney Hilman Prize for Courage in Publishing and the National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting, Seigenthaler is also a venerated author whose works include “A Search for Justice”, “An Honorable Profession” , and “The Year Called Watergate.” An advocate of first amendment rights and education, Seigenthaler founded The First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt in 1991, with the mission of creating national discussion, dialogue, and debate about first amendment values. There can be no debate as to the fact that John Seigenthaler has enriched Nashville and the state of Tennessee with his intellect, deeds, and years of dedicated service.

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