Petrey, Caldwell In Press Hall of Fame

KNOXVILLE – A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and a pioneering woman editor will be inducted into the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame Nov. 14.

Nancy Rush Petrey and Nathan “Nat” Caldwell will join 42 other journalists and newspaper executives in the hall of fame. The induction ceremony is set for Friday evening at the Knoxville Marriott.

The Tennessee Press Association and the University of Tennessee co-sponsor the hall of fame, which was founded in 1966. It is located in UT’s Communications Building.

Petrey was elected president of TPA in 1989 and was the first woman to hold the post. In a career at the Newport Plain Talk that spanned 30 years, she did every job in newspapering, from sweeping the floors to delivering the paper to editing the publication.

In 1981 following the death of her husband, Arthur, she was named general manager, and later, co-publisher of the Plain Talk.

As a journalist, Petrey passionately believed in a free and unfettered press, said Dr. Kelly Leiter, UT dean emeritus of communications and professor of journalism. Leiter, a long-time friend of Petrey, will make her presentation at the induction ceremony.

Caldwell’s 50-year career at The Tennessean in Nashville was marked by his work on governmental and labor-management corruption and on mistreatment of the elderly and minorities. He also was an advocate for public power and community development in Tennessee.

He shared the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting with editorial writer Gene Graham for their six years of work that exposed the United Mine Workers collusion with mine company management.

In 1968, posing as a homeless man, he checked himself into three Nashville-area nursing homes to highlight the needs of the elderly. His reporting led to the licensing of privately operated nursing homes.

John Seigenthaler, retired editor of The Tennessean and founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, will make Caldwell’s presentation at Friday’s ceremony.

Portraits of the newest hall of fame members will be available for viewing starting a 9 a.m. Nov. 15 in the Communications Building.