Two years of the Tennessee Lookout – Tennessee Lookout
In May 2020, America was still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting partisan and political hysteria. The country was six months away from the most polarizing presidential election in memory for most of us.
And the Tennessee Lookout was launched.
The day in March I woke up to start working on the new publication was the day governments and businesses in Tennessee shut down due to the pandemic and I wondered how far the launch of a Statewide media would take place at a time of intense focus on national politics. .
But that’s exactly why the Tennessee Lookout was needed. As Tennesseans, we are the most affected by local political decisions and the higher we go up the electoral chain, the less impact we can have. The correlation is that more media than ever are focusing on national issues, which is not a bad thing in itself, but unfortunately fewer and fewer media outlets have reporters who focus on legislatures and the issues of States. Tennessee is no exception.
Two days after the launch, Senior Reporter Anita Wadhwani shared how Governor Bill Lee’s administration has authorized the release of private health information about Tennesseans who have tested positive for COVID-19 to law enforcement.
As trite as it sounds, there has been no turning back, and you have been with us on this quick journey.
Since May 2020, Wadhwani has continued to regularly report on otherwise uncovered topics, including the overreach of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. She told the story of the children in Tennessee Department of Children’s Services the guardon the floors of state office buildings and when the Comptroller of Tennessee sent out a press release urging a small West Tennessee town to give up the city charter, it’s Wadhwani and the extraordinary photojournalist John Partipilo who traveled to Mason to investigate.
I am convinced that without Wadhwani and Partipilo, the history of the majority black city of Mason, Tenn.and a state financial takeover would not have garnered the national attention it did and now city leaders and comptroller officials have brokered a better deal for the city.
As a reader, you have joined us to watch Dulce Torres Guzman grow as a journalist. The Lookout is her first full-time reporting job and she has previously been recognized for her coverage of Tennessee immigration issues, receiving the Ganas Award in Media and Community from the Nashville-area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. in 2021. She also covered vital issues such as the establishment and final withdrawal of Byhalia gas pipeline, a 44-mile gas pipeline that was to cross South Memphis, a historically black community, and it received legislative coverage this year.
Speaking of legislative coverage: senior reporter Sam Stockard joined the Lookout as a freelance writer in November 2020 and went full-time a few months later and boy, I don’t know what we’d do without him. In the past six months alone, he has exposed the story of Ford Motor Co. weighing in a special legislative session intended to limit the ability of private companies to require COVID-19 masks.
Stockard reported when a retired state legislator told him he heard the offer from an alleged bribe to another lawmaker from former House Speaker Glen Casada. And his weekly column offers a treasure trove of political tidbits that sometimes make you laugh out loud.
We’ve been fortunate to publish works by writers like East Tennessee’s fierce freelance journalist Jamie Satterfield and columnists like Bruce Barry, West Tennessee educator Gabe Hart and Knoxville attorney Loy Waldrop, among others.
I speak for all of us at the Lookout when I thank you for reading these past two years. You have sign for our daily newsletter, shared our stories, emailed us complimenting stories and sometimes called us and you gave us a donation – which as a non-profit media outlet we greatly appreciate and appreciate.
You can see photos on social media this week of our staff celebrating with cake, but even as we celebrate, we will continue to report on news from Tennessee that affects us all and the leaders who represent us.
Thank you for these two great years. Stick with us: We think the next two will be even better.