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VOL. 41 | NO. 31 | Friday, August 4, 2017

Barnes is new president of Tennessee Press Association

By Andy Meek

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Barnes

Eric Barnes, publisher and CEO of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc., has become the next president of the Tennessee Press Association, the trade association for the state’s newspapers.

He succeeds W.R. “Ron” Fryar, owner and publisher of the Cannon Courier of Woodbury, Tennessee.

Barnes, who’s served on the TPA board for the past decade, has emphasized a “platform-agnostic” approach to journalism during his 15-year tenure at The Daily News in Memphis, a period in which the paper has evolved beyond a core five-days-a-week print product.

“I’ve always emphasized that it’s the quality of the journalism that matters most, not the medium,” Barnes said. “We’ll give you the content however you want, on the printed page, on your phone, on a computer screen, by email, on Facebook, on Twitter.”

The company operates newspapers statewide, including weekly newspapers in Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

In Memphis, the company publishes the free weekly edition, The Memphis News. The weekly newspaper, along with its sister publication The Daily News, covers a mix of politics, business and community issues in the Memphis area.

In 2010 the company acquired a Nashville-based community newspaper it rebranded as the Nashville Ledger. A Knoxville edition was launched in 2014. Two years later, The Daily News acquired The Hamilton County Herald.

“What’s also important is that each of our papers stays focused on its editorial mission,” Barnes said. “In Memphis, that means we’re doing six issues a week focused on a broad range of stories, from business to politics to all kinds of community stories.

“In Chattanooga, we’re more focused on law and real estate, plus community issues,” he said. “In Knoxville, we’re more of a traditional community paper. In Nashville, again, we’re more of a traditional community paper, but with more business content. Each market has defined what areas we can focus on to make a name for ourselves.”

“And without a doubt,” Barnes added, “the ongoing reduction in editorial staff at metro dailies across the state has created opportunities for us in all our markets. It’s a strange time, really. As a news consumer, I hate it. But as a publisher, I see all these gaps in coverage that we can and will fill.”

During his tenure on the TPA board, Barnes led the task force that codified the requirement that newspapers post their public notices online and, last year, led the task force that resulted in the inclusion of free newspapers in the association, which hadn’t been allowed by the association since its founding in 1870. In Memphis, that means free papers such as The Memphis Flyer, The New Tri-State Defender, and The Memphis News will now be allowed to be members of the Tennessee Press Association.

Since 2009, Barnes also has hosted and co-produced Behind the Headlines, a weekly news program on WKNO/Channel 10, Memphis’ public television station.

Prior to joining The Daily News, Barnes was chief operating officer and executive publisher at Towery Publishing, which published city guides, business directories, coffee-table books, maps and websites in hundreds of cities nationwide.

Prior to Towery, Barnes worked in a variety of editorial positions at a business magazine in New York City, as a reporter for a small Connecticut newspaper and in other freelance and staff positions.

Barnes has also published two novels: “Shimmer,” an IndieNext Pick in 2009, and “Something Pretty, Something Beautiful,” in 2013. He’s also published short stories in journals and magazines nationwide. Arcade Publishing will release his third novel, “The City Where We Once Lived,” in 2018.

Along with serving on the TPA board, Barnes also is president of the American Court and Commercial Newspapers association; vice president of the board for the Public Notice Resource Center; and chairman of the board of trustees of the Overton Park Conservancy, the group that manages Overton Park in Memphis.

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