Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Independence Day, July 4, 1981, Celebrating "Independence in Journalism" in Appalachia

On this day in history, July 4, 1981, Appalachian Observer owner Ernest F. Phillips and I distributed copies of our new newspaper Prospectus to prospective readers in Rocky Top, Tennessee.  (It was then called "Lake City" and before that it was called "Coal Creek.")   

We handed out copies before, during and after fireworks and left copies on automobiles.  Our four page tabloid flyer promised "Independence in Journalism."

Like The Little Engine That Could, our small tabloid newspaper took on the Anderson County Establishment, the forces of authoritarianism in that time and place, which will never be the same again.  

During 1981-1984, the Appalachian Observer:

  • Won declassification of largest mercury pollution event in history planet Earth, at the  U.S. Government's Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant, operated by Union Carbide, which later killed and maimed tens of thousands of people in Bhopal, India.
  • Helped elect reform County Attorney and re-elect reform District Attorney;
  • Helped oust corrupt School Superintendent Paul Eugene Bostic, Sr.
  • Exposed corrupt Sheriff Dennis O. Trotter, who went to federal prison.

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