Currently the only daily newspaper in Knoxville, the News-Sentinel began in December 1886 as the evening Sentinel published by John Travis Hearn, a native of Shelbyville, Kentucky. The first four-page edition of the Sentinel was printed on a steam-operated flatbed press in a room above a liquor store. Hearn revolutionized the local distribution of newspapers by selling the papers directly to newsboys, who pocketed all the profits. The first newsboy, Wiley Morgan, stayed with the Sentinel and later became general manager and part-owner of the newspaper.
In 1892 Hearn sold the paper to J. B. Pound of Chattanooga, who then sold it to another Chattanoogan, George F. Milton, in 1899. In 1912 Curtis B. Johnson, formerly a reporter for the Knoxville Tribune, bought the paper. During the 1920s the Sentinel began publishing a Sunday edition.
In November 1921 the Scripps-McRae (later Scripps-Howard) newspaper chain launched the publication of the Knoxville News, edited by Edward J. Meeman, with Myron G. Chambers as business manager. Meeman published a nonpartisan paper that crusaded against government corruption and fiscal irresponsibility. The News promoted the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and denounced the Butler Law against the teaching of evolution.
In November 1926 the News acquired the Sentinel from General Lawrence D. Tyson, a World War I hero who had used the evening paper to further his political ambitions. The first edition of the Knoxville News-Sentinel appeared on November 21, 1926. Meeman continued to edit the News-Sentinel until 1931, when he moved to Memphis to edit another Scripps-Howard newspaper, the Memphis Press-Scimitar.
In 1957 the News-Sentinel entered into a joint operating agreement with the Knoxville Journal. Under the terms of the agreement, the two papers combined their advertising, circulation, and production departments into a single operation, and the News-Sentinel assumed printing responsibilities for both papers. This cooperative arrangement lasted until 1991, when the Knoxville Journal ceased publication. In 1986 the News-Sentinel became a morning paper.
The longest-tenured editor of the News-Sentinel was Loye Miller, who assumed control of the paper in 1940 and edited it until his retirement in 1966. Ralph Millet Jr. succeeded Miller and remained with the paper until 1984. Millet led the fight to open public records to public inspection. Millet was succeeded by Harry Moskos, who retired in 2001. Jack McElroy is the current editor of the century-plus East Tennessee newspaper.
Jack Mooney, A History of Tennessee Newspapers (1996)