Frank Gibson Retires from Third Career
FRANKLIN (JULY 20) — Gleason native Frank Gibson retired from his third career as the public policy director of the Tennessee Press Association. His retirement was official at the close of the 2017 Tennessee General Assembly. Gibson was honored during the TPA’s 2017 Summer Convention by TPA President Ron Fryar in Franklin, Tenn. during a ceremony that also included the induction of a new TPA president.
Gibson spent 37 years as an award-winning reporter and editor at The Tennessean in Nashville, becoming a reporter there four months after graduating from Gleason High School.
Gibson covered local and state government beats, the courts, and state and local politics among others. He won statewide awards for reporting from the Associated Press and United Press International, and won the Society of Professional Journalists 1981 Green Eyeshade Award for Investigative Reporting in the 11-state southeast region. His last reporting assignment was as The Tennessean’s Washington correspondent, covering Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr., then-Congressman Al Gore and others in the Tennessee delegation. He returned to Nashville in 1982 to become city editor and later Metro editor, supervising teams of reporters assigned to the beats he had covered. When he retired, he had been the newspaper’s political editor for more than 12 years. He retired early from the newspaper in 2005 to direct the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. He founded the statewide alliance of citizen and media groups and legal professionals in 2003. Now in its 14th year, TCOG is dedicated to preserving and improving citizen access under Tennessee’s public records and sunshine laws. He serves on the TCOG board and authored “Keys to Open Government – a citizen’s guide” published in early 2015.
Gibson is in his fourth year as public policy director for the Tennessee Press Association, which represents 125 daily and non-daily newspapers before the Tennessee General Assembly. The position was created for him in 2011 because of the success of TCOG (TPA was a charter member and major funder of TCOG.) The McKenzie Banner and Dresden Enterprise, which published his weekly high school columns, are TPA members. He is an Army veteran and served with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in the Panama Canal Zone before enrolling in the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 1969.
Gibson was selected editorin- chief of the UT Daily Beacon – the campus newspaper – in 1970. He was the first sophomore to hold the position at what was then the state’s 11th largest newspaper (25,000 circulation). Before graduating, he was selected to membership in Omicron Delta Kappa – the national leadership honor society (the male version of Mortar Board). He was tapped for membership in the Scarabbean — the society of student and faculty leaders on the Knoxville campus. He was an inaugural member of the Board of Student Advisers to UT President Edward Bowling, and served many years on the College of Communication & Information Board of Visitors.
Gibson was among eight American and four Asian journalists chosen to the midcareer Humanities Fellowship program at the University of Michigan. He and his family spent the 1985-86 school year in Ann Arbor where he studied southern history and constitutional law and history. In 1990, Gibson was elected national president of the 18,000-member Society of Professional Journalists. He chaired SPJ’s Project Watchdog, a $1 million advertising campaign to educate the American people on the importance of a free press. The campaign commemorated the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights. In 1994, he was awarded the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor SPJ bestows on a member.
An ardent student of First Amendment law, Gibson’s motivating interest has been to advocate for improved public access to public records and meetings of public bodies. That led in 2008 to him being elected president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition at the University of Missouri.
Frank and his wife Kathy, a litigation paralegal, have been married 38 years. They live in Lutz, Fla., in the Tampa Bay area — around the corner from only daughter Amy, husband David, and two grandchildren -Alexander
Gibson Sullivan and Keely Caroline Sullivan.
His favorite pastime is watching Alexander participate in America’s pastime.