Georgiana Vines began her career in the ‘women’s department’ before working her way up through the journalism ranks
Georgiana Vines, a longtime Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel reporter and editor whose career in journalism spanned nearly 40 years and touched the lives of many in the profession, retired Feb. 28.
Vines, 65, will stay involved in journalism by teaching a media management course at the University of Tennessee. She will continue to write her political column.
“I plan to spend more time with my husband, more time with my grandchildren, and have more lunches with my mother, who is 89,” Vines said. “And I intend to practice the piano more.”
“We wish Georgiana all the best, but we certainly are going to miss her,” said News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy. “Her contribution to the newspaper business, the News Sentinel and East Tennessee has been enormous. She’s been a journalist’s journalist — one of those who bleed ink. Personally, I will miss her counsel and the camaraderie we shared.”
Vines, a Florida State University graduate, began her career in 1961 at the Miami Herald as a reporter in the women’s department.
“There was only one woman reporter on the metro side of the paper,” she said. “All of the others were in what was then called the women’s department. That was the tradition in those days.”
Following reporting stints at the St. Petersburg Times and Milwaukee Sentinel, she joined the News Sentinel in 1968 as a reporter, covering local government.
“Georgiana was one of the most hard working and dedicated journalists I ever knew,” said Stan DeLozier, retired longtime News Sentinel reporter. “She was relentless in the pursuit of a story and digging out facts that the public needed to know.”
Vines was promoted to posts of city editor, deputy managing editor and assistant managing editor. In 1996, she was named editor of the El Paso Herald Post, which was owned by the E. W. Scripps Co., which also owns the News Sentinel. When the Herald Post was closed due to declining circulation, Vines returned to the News Sentinel in 1998 as deputy managing editor in charge of business news. She was named associate editor in 2002.
Her time with the News Sentinel and the Herald Post alone represents 35 years with newspapers owned by E.W. Scripps. She has seen many changes in the business.
“Women have so many more opportunities today than when I started in 1961,” she said. “And the other big thing is, the papers were put out by hot type. Today, even the presses are computerized.”
But newsrooms are still organized in much the same way, with reporters assigned to beats, “and there is always a lot of discussion about the best way to cover a community when you want to reach diverse audiences.”
Vines is a charter board member of the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and has held every office in it. In 1992-93, she was president of the national organization. In 1996, she was awarded the Wells Key, SPJ’s highest honor, for volunteerism and professionalism.
News Sentinel Business Editor David Keim recalled that Vines hired him as an intern 15 years ago — even though he had submitted his application a day late.
“Fortunately, she was merciful,” Keim said. “She is a great promoter of young journalists, always helpful.”
Jean Ash, who was a reporter and anchor at WIVK-FM for 17 years, said, “I remember when I was new in the field, she was just so great to me and to other young people, pulling us into organizations like SPJ and urging us to get more involved.”
Dorothy Bowles, local SPJ chapter president and UT professor, said, “I hope she will continue with her local and national work with SPJ. We look to her for so many things. At UT, we are just tickled to death that she will be here with us.”
“Georgiana has exemplified the watchdog role that we are entrusted with,” said Frank Gibson, regional editor at the Tennessean and executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. “She was always a big champion of open government and of strong ethics in our profession.”
In 1968, Vines married United Press International correspondent Carl Vines, who died in 1990. In 1993, she married John Fox, retired physics professor and a consultant in Oak Ridge. Her daughter, Carla Vines Winchester, is a psychotherapist. Vines is the grandmother of Kylie Jean Winchester, 5, and Cade Rushton Winchester, 2.
Story reprinted with permission from the Knoxville News Sentinel.