Times Free Press Fires Editor Drew Johnson

Thursday, August 01, 2013
Drew Johnson
Drew Johnson

Chattanooga Times Free Press officials said Thursday that Free Press editor Drew Johnson has been fired "after placing a headline on an editorial outside of normal editing procedures."

The newspaper said, "Johnson’s headline, 'Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough,' appeared on the Free Press page Tuesday, the day President Barack Obama visited the city.

"The headline was inappropriate for this newspaper. It was not the original headline approved for publication, and Johnson violated the normal editing process when he changed the headline. The newspaper’s decision to terminate Johnson had nothing to do with the content of the editorial, which criticized the president’s job creation ideas and Chattanooga’s Smart Grid. The Free Press page has often printed editorials critical of the president and his policies.

"The Chattanooga Times Free Press is unique in that it has two editorial pages, the conservative Free Press page and the liberal Times page. This newspaper places high value on expressions of divergent opinion, but will not permit violations of its standards."

Soon after his dismissal, Mr. Johnson sent out this tweet, "I just became the first person in the history of newspapers to be fired for writing a paper's most-read article."

He later added, "Getting fired for taking a stand is bad. Getting fired two weeks before your wedding is worse. Thanks for sticking by me."

He also wrote, "The policy I 'broke' did not exist when I 'broke' it. It was created after people complained about the headline & was applied retroactively. Any time the paper wanted to change the headline online (which is how most people read the editorial), they could've.

"We change headlines all the time at the last minute. I had a filler headline in that stunk and thought of that Johnny Paycheck song."

Mr. Johnson, 34, had been the replacement for Lee Anderson, who had a 70-year career with the newspaper.

He was the founder and first president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a free market think tank and watchdog organization based in Nashville.

He was with the newspaper for just over a year. 


Family Makes Treasure Trove Of Early Chattanooga Photographs Available For Book; Stokes Collection Has Been Passed Down To Descendants

A treasure trove of Chattanooga photographs that have been passed down in the Stokes family for generations has now been assembled in an upcoming book. Chattanooga Around The Turn Of The Century: The Remarkable Stokes Collection will be published by Chattanoogan.com. Pre-orders are now being taken for the book, which includes over 700 photos on large-size pages. Publisher ... (click for more)

One Man Dies After Early Saturday Morning Car Crash

A crash in the early hours of Saturday morning has left one man dead.  Chattanooga Police responded to 700 Central Avenue for a traffic crash with serious injuries on Saturday at 3:30 a.m.   An Acura sedan was stopped at the traffic light on Central Avenue at McCallie Avenue heading north when a Mercury sedan traveling north on Central Avenue struck the Acura from ... (click for more)

How To Reform The City Industrial Development Board - And Response (3)

My aims is to bring to the public’s attention the need for procedural changes that, if implemented, would significantly improve the information available the public, to the City Council and to the City Industrial Development Board about the verifiable benefits and costs of tax incentive financing structures and to make the entire process transparent. The public, the City ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: He Can Never Go Home

When Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston sparked top-ranked Florida State to a 56-41 comeback over N.C. State last Saturday, you would have thought the world had forgotten and virtually excused his vulgar rant from the week before. His inexcusable mid-week antics kept him sidelined during the Clemson game and brought down the nation’s scorn but less than a week later he was ... (click for more)

Baylor Impressive In Volleyball Sweep Of Signal Mountain

Baylor coach Sarah Lail paused briefly before saying that she's seen her Lady Red Raider volleyball team play better than they did on Monday, but they did just about everything right as they celebrated Senior Night with an impressive 3-0 victory over the Signal Mountain Lady Eagles. It was a meeting of two of the top three teams in Chattanooga -- too bad that Ooltewah couldn't ... (click for more)

Basketball, Wrestling Mocs Host Ball N' Brawl

It’s party time in the Scenic City. Chattanooga’s team is sending some of its best to close down 3rd Street on Friday, October 10, for Ball N’ Brawl. This inaugural event features the men’s and women’s basketball programs along with the wrestling team. “This was an idea coaches Heath Eslinger (wrestling) and Will Wade (men’s basketball) came up with,” Director of Marketing and ... (click for more)