SPJ Member John North hosts ETSPJ’s annual legislative Luncheon (Jan 2020)


The East Tennessee Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (ETSPJ) draws membership from all of East Tennessee and is based in Knoxville.

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.

Our Mission

We are dedicated to the free practice of journalism in the United States and to encouraging and maintaining high standards for ethical behavior. We offer professional support for media practitioners, a regional voice in journalism advocacy, and provide a link for local members to maintain contact with nearly 10,000 SPJ members nationwide.

Become a Member

Any media professional or member of the public is welcome to become a member. Membership in ETSPJ provides discounts on program registration fees, award entries, etc.  Chapter membership is $10, in addition to the national membership fee. When registering, please make sure to select “East Tennessee Pro Chapter” under Local Chapters.

Board Members

Interested in getting involved, either on our board or on a committee? Contact us.

Maria Cornelius

Maria Cornelius


Maria Cornelius is a writer/editor for Moxley Carmichael. She covers the Lady Vols for 247Sports and worked for 14 years at The Knoxville News Sentinel. Her book, “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt,” chronicles the last season of Pat Summitt’s storied career as the Lady Vols head coach.

Michael Martinez


Michael T. Martínez, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Martínez turned to academe after working for 26 years at four newspapers and a wire service — the Associated Press in New York, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Detroit News, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Jesse Mayshark


Jesse Mayshark worked as a reporter and editor for 20 years before working in communications for former Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero in 2011. He currently is co-founder of Knoxville political newspaper, The Compass.

Jean Ash

Board Member Emeritus

Jean Ash spent 17 years as an anchor and reporter for WIVK. Ash is past president of ETSPJ and the founding president of the Front Page Foundation. She was named the 38th honoree at the Front Page Follies in 2016.

Angela Dennis

Angela Dennis

Board Member

Angela Dennis is a journalist for the Knoxville News Sentinel-USA Today Network and co-host of the Black in Appalachia podcast a project of East Tennessee PBS.

She is a Knoxville native, raised in Florida, and covers issues at the intersection of race and equity through contemporary and historical lenses.

Jack Lail

Board Member

Jack Lail is a retired journalist who was most recently digital manager at WATE-TV. He served as digital director for more than two decades at The Knoxville News Sentinel.

Melanie Staten

Melanie Staten

Board Member

Melanie Staten spent years in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill at the White House as deputy assistant press secretary for President Ford. As a journalist and reporter, Melanie worked as a general assignment reporter at WBAL on Baltimore and at the Old Bridge Observer newspaper in Manassas, Virginia. She
currently is a public relations consultant and also served as manager and a performer for the Front Page Follies.

Georgiana Vines


Georgiana Vines is a longtime News Sentinel political writer and a past national SPJ president.