A short time ago, Knoxville had a strong daily newspaper and 5 or 6 weeklies; three commercial television stations and 10 or so radio outlets that provided news. Elected leaders and their challengers had multiple ways to debate issues and promote initiatives. And they used this free and paid media to reach every home in the county.
What’s changed? Everything.
What’s a politician to do?
President Donald Trump took to Twitter.
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs has embarked on a personal free media conglomerate.
On Monday, Jacobs announced what he calls a “Neighborhood and Civic Organization registration system” that allows groups that sign up to “quickly receive updates regarding a number of important issues, such as road closures, public meetings and general updates on county projects.” The group leaders are asked to forward such information to their members.
Jacobs already has his own YouTube videos (I stopped counting at 100) with everything from reading “The Night Before Christmas” to body-slamming a guy through a glass table. The mayor limps through Funderburk Electric with one foot in a cast. And he talks about the pressure of being The Undertaker’s Brother and some guy named Paul Bearer.
The weirdest thing Jacobs does is a weekly video that dominates the Knox County website. He starts each one with “It’s Friday,” thus guaranteeing that six days out of seven a visitor to the Knox County website will think we have a mayor who doesn’t know what day it is.
State Sen. Becky Massey produces a weekly newsletter (much appreciated) that talks about the important bills under consideration in Nashville. But she must have taken writing lessons from her brother Jimmy. Remember those newsletters from Washington from U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr.? They were tomes. This week Massey’s newsletter had roughly 2,362 words and several pictures.
Knox County Commission will resume in-person meetings this month after a near year of virtual meetings. Commission chair Larsen Jay said any member of the public who prefers the Zoom option will be accommodated if they contact the commission office by 4 p.m. Friday prior to the Monday meetings.
Nothing said Women’s History Month better than Monday’s press conference when the Knoxville mayor, the Knoxville chief of police and the district attorney general stood before the media. Indya Kincannon, Eve Thomas and Charme Allen seemed right at home.
Hat tip to KPD for arresting two juveniles in connection with the murder of Stanley Freeman Jr., age 16. The sad news is that the alleged perpetrators are 14 and 16 – children.
Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.