SPJ names Market Square location ‘Historic Site in Journalism’

Adolph Ochs
Adolph Ochs (Public domain, from The Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1918, between pp. 530 and 531, via Wikipedia)

The effort to mark The New York Times founder Adolph Ochs’ newspaper beginnings was spearheaded by veteran Knoxville journalist Georgiana Vines, a charter member of the East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a former national SPJ president.

UPDATE: Three events in September 2022 will honor Knoxville journalism history

Vines credited Jack Neely and the Knoxville History Project for assistance in chronicling the history of Ochs in Knoxville.

The effort to mark the start of his career in journalism was also supported by Market Square bar and restaurant owner Scott West, who owns the building where the plaque is to be placed.

(News release reposted from SPJ.org.)

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has named 36 Market Square in Knoxville, Tennessee, an Historic Site in Journalism. The address marks the site where Adolph Ochs, founder of The New York Times, started his journalism career.

SPJ’s Historic Sites program honors the people and places that have played important roles in American journalistic history.

At age 11, Ochs became a carrier boy for the Knoxville Chronicle. He worked there and then at The Knoxville Tribune for six years, where he rose from office boy to apprentice to journeyman printer. He left for a newspaper job in Chattanooga at the age of 17, taking control of the Chattanooga Times in 1878.

Two decades later, in 1896 at age 38, he acquired The New York Times and in his inaugural edition made the famous pledge to report the news without “fear or favor.”

Alex Jones, SPJ Foundation Board member and co-author of the definitive biography of Ochs, said, “While Adolph Ochs’s greatest achievement was creating The New York Times, his start was in Knoxville and he never lost his sense of gratitude and kinship with that city. It is fitting that his legendary career should be recognized by SPJ with a National Journalism Historic Marker at the place where it began.”

This is Tennessee’s second SPJ Historic Site in Journalism Award. The other is in Memphis, recognizing the Christian Index, the second oldest Black religious newspaper in the nation.

A bronze plaque will be placed at the Wall Avenue side of 36 Market Square to distinguish it as a National Historic Site in Journalism.

See a complete list of SPJ Historic Sites in Journalism here.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.

(Photo credit: Public domain photo of Adolph Ochs from The Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1918, between pp. 530 and 531, via Wikipedia.)