Hightower, McNeil, Simon Join TPA Hall of Fame

KNOXVILLE — Three new members recently were inducted into the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame at the Tennessee Press Association Board of Directors annual meeting held at UT’s University Club on Neyland Drive.

The Hall of Fame, established in 1966, honors 42 men and women who have made significant contributions to the newspaper industry in Tennessee.

The new inductees are: John Murman Hightower, a Pulitzer Prize winning AP journalist; Glenn E. McNeil, former TPA manager who helped pass Tennessee Sunshine laws; and Morris Simon, a Tullahoma newspaperman and business and community leader.

John M. Hightower

Hightower, 1909-1987, who worked 34 years for The Associated Press, won a Pulitzer Prize and two other national awards before retiring to teach journalism in 1971.

A native of Coal Creek, Tenn. (now Lake City), he edited a UT campus magazine as a freshman. After his sophomore year he moved to New York City and worked as associate editor of two monthly pharmaceutical trade publications.

He returned to Tennessee in 1931 to work for the Knoxville News-Sentinel as a reporter and then city editor.

Hightower became night editor at the Nashville AP in 1933 and was AP-s first Tennessee state editor. As AP-s “diplomatic editor” and he wrote the lead story on the atomic bombing of Japan.

He was nominated for the 1944 Pulitzer Prize, winning the prize on his second nomination in 1952 for his international reporting of diplomatic affairs, in particular the Korean War and events that led to President Harry S. Truman-s firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the allied commander in Korea.

Hightower also won two other top journalistic honors: the Raymond Clapper Memorial Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Sigma Delta Chi, an annual award of the national journalism society. He also is a member of UT-s Academic Hall of Fame.

Glenn E. McNeil

McNeil, 1917-1996, was an advocate for passing three of the most influential bills in the state legislature regarding freedom of speech.

As secretary-manager of the TPA from 1947 to 1979, McNeil-s influence in government led to the passing of the Open Records Act of 1957, the Freedom of Information Act of 1973 and the Open Meetings, or “Sunshine Law,” of 1974.

Born in Knoxville in 1917, McNeil joined the TPA after eight years of work with The Knoxville News-Sentinel and service in the Navy during World War II.

When legislators threatened to close meetings to the press, McNeil’s work spawned the new openness in state government and introduction of the Sunshine Law.

McNeil, a graduate of UT, once headed the Knoxville Extension Center, the first campus night school at UT. He also helped UT’s School of Journalism and TPA establish the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1966.

In 1976, he assisted publishers in founding the TPA Foundation. He was president of the national Newspaper Association Managers, director of American Newspaper Representatives, and a member of the board of directors of National Newspaper Association.

In 1981, he was honored by the East Tennessee Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at the Front Page Follies. A UT journalism scholarship was named for him later that year.

Morris Simon

Simon, 1911-1994, was a businessman, an entrepreneur and a leader in his community.

Born in Bristol, Tenn., he became a reporter at The Knoxville News-Sentinel in 1930 and in 1945 was named assistant managing editor.

A year later he and a friend created the twice-weekly Tullahoma News and Guardian.

Simon was an important figure in the business and social communities. He led efforts to create the first zoning and planning ordinances in Tullahoma.

Simon was president and part owner of Arnold-s Furniture Store, a 50-year member of the Tullahoma Rotary Club, and recipient of Tullahoma-s Outstanding Citizen Award in 1967.

As a newspaperman, Simon was principal executive of the Fayetteville Elk Valley Times, the Manchester Times, and the Winchester Herald-Chronicle. These papers together comprised H & S Publishing Co. He sold the newspaper group in 1974. His editorials and news stories were a major factor in shaping the community.

Simon was named president of the Tennessee Press Association in 1975. He led efforts to create the UT Space Institute, serving as the first vice-chairman of the UTSI Support Council. In 1972, he chaired a committee that led to the establishment of Motlow State Community College, where the main classroom building was named Morris Simon Hall.

He served as senior chairman of the Motlow College Foundation and was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Education.

Simon chaired the Tullahoma Municipal-Regional Planning Commission, was a member and former president of Beth El Congregation in Tullahoma, and a member of the board of governors of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.