Knoxville Market Square spot named ‘historic site in journalism’

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An area of Knoxville‘s Market Square has been designated a historic site in journalism to commemorate the humble beginnings of a man who helped grow The New York Times into one of the world’s largest and well-known publications.

The Society of Professional Journalists will honor Adolph Ochs, former owner of the Chattanooga Times and the New York Times, with a commemorative plaque at 36 Market Square. Ochs started his career in journalism as a carrier boy for the Knoxville Chronicle before performing several different jobs at the Knoxville Tribune.

He took over the Chattanooga Times in 1878 at the age of 17. He acquired The New York Times in 1896, pledging in his inaugural edition to report the news without “fear or favor.” By the 1920s, the Times had grown from relative obscurity to one of the nation’s leading publications.

Alex Jones, SPJ Foundation Board member and co-author of the definitive biography of Ochs, said, “While Adolph Ochs’s greatest achievement was creating The New York Times, his start was in Knoxville and he never lost his sense of gratitude and kinship with that city. It is fitting that his legendary career should be recognized by SPJ with a National Journalism Historic Marker at the place where it began.”

The recognition effort was led by Georgiana Vines, a charter member of the East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a former national SPJ president. She credited Jack Neely and the Knoxville History Project for helping chronicle the history of Ochs and Knoxville.

The initiative was also supported by Knoxville bar and restaurant owner Scott West, who owns the building where the plaque will be placed.

A bronze plaque will be placed at the Wall Avenue side of 36 Market Square. It will be the second SPJ Historic Site in Journalism in the state. The first recognizes the Christian Index, the second-oldest Black religious newspaper in the nation, in Memphis.

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