published Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Gerber: Times Free Press has new face on the right

Clint Cooper found his way into journalism by way of Engel Stadium.

The summer after he graduated from Brainerd High School, he had the perfect job for a teenage boy -- scoreboard operator for the Chattanooga Lookouts. While doing that job, sports writers for both the Chattanooga Free Press and the Chattanooga Times asked him if he'd like to cover some games.

"I did, and I liked it, and I kept doing it," Cooper said. "It seems kind of simplistic, but that's how it happened."

Cooper started working part time in the sports department of the Free Press at age 18 while he was a communications major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He became an intern, and in 1980 was hired as a full-time reporter covering high school sports.

He later became an editor supervising a staff of more than 20. When the Times and Free Press merged in 1999, he went back to reporting and, over the years, covered both news and feature stories. His most recent assignment was covering faith.

Cooper said he'd always loved English and writing, so working as a reporter was a natural fit.

"I was not one of those people who hated doing research papers. I actually liked it," he said.

That trait will serve him well in his new role as Free Press page editor, which he assumed Monday.

Cooper describes himself as a fiscal and social conservative. He'll respect the tradition of the Free Press page, but he'll be his own person, too. (Read his introductory column on page F5.)

And he'll be a good balance on issues to Pam Sohn, editor of the liberal Times page.

The Times Free Press is unique among American newspapers in publishing two editorial pages, the left-leaning Times page and the conservative Free Press page. When the two newspapers merged, many readers did not believe the new paper would keep two editorial pages for very long. But 15 years later, we've still got two pages, and we're still offering opinions from both sides of the political aisle.

It's a nice symmetry that, while Cooper has a background with the Free Press, Sohn was a reporter and editor at the Chattanooga Times before the merger.

Cooper is a strong conservative who is passionate about this community. He is also a humble, honest, hardworking man and will be outstanding in his new role.

Having lived in Chattanooga his whole life, he understands the city and the region, the neighborhoods and the people, both conservative and liberal.

He should; he's one of us.

Alison Gerber is the editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Reach her at

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soakya said...

"Cooper is a strong conservative..." " Cooper describes himself as a fiscal and social conservative."

"And he'll be a good balance on issues to Pam Sohn, editor of the liberal Times page"

Well Alison I read his article from above concerning illegal immigrants higher education tuition cost and I would say he has so far shown himself to be a progressive and I would be willing to bet Pam would agree with him on this issue.

February 16, 2014 at 7:50 p.m.
soakya said...

Yet, it's growing more evident that the preferred vehicle of the social and political left to meet the needs of individuals and families is through the government.-Robin Smith

Since the Times has seen fit to close the comments to the Robin Smith piece I will ask her her and every other republican that bashes the left for their desire to meet the need of individuals thru the government, why do you give a pass to the right.

Robin, how do you feel about Gardenhire's legislation concerning tuition cost for illegal immigrants? Is he trying to meet the needs of individuals and families thru government?

February 17, 2014 at 10:46 a.m.
charivara said...

Why is the comments section to Robin's piece not operative? As long as we are using this thread to comment on it....

“The irony gets so thick that a chainsaw is needed” It does indeed, Robin. A conservative fulminating on a war on compassion! You have no idea what irony is, you rich thing.

But we would expect better manners from a Southern lady columnist writing in a mainstream newspaper than to characterize someone with whom she disagrees as a dog that barks.

What’s the problem with seeing all of the citizens of the United States combined as a community? What other institution do we have which has a responsibility to care about each and everyone of them than the federal government?

Conservatives have shown repeatedly that they only care about some of their fellow citizens. The rest are dogs that bark. God help all of us if they decide to bite.

February 17, 2014 at 1:52 p.m.
jjmez said...

soakya, I think it's the choice of the writer to turn off their comment section. Me thinks Robin couldn't swallow any opposition responses, which would have likely been plenty. Fromm her prior stand, hasn't she been one of the many from the right who have attacked anything that appeared socialist-giving of any kind?These are some thinkings and mindset (religious fruitcake types), like Pat Robertson who blamed the earthquake that so devastated the Island on Haitians enslaved under brutal French rule for an uprising way back in slavery that overthrew and ran the French off the island. Pat Robertson said the earthquake was a punishment from the christian God for their taking their freedom into their own hands and overthrowing French rule and chasing them from the Island. In other words, the christian* God must have sanctioned and approved of one man owning another to believe that crap.

February 17, 2014 at 2:09 p.m.
jjmez said...

Does anyone know what destroyed the Haitians economy? The island was thriving. I once read a book written by a Haitian that said it was the free stuff, usually cast-off used goods Americans no longer wanted, shipped to the island and given away. The Haitian people stopped buying locally and business dried up for many Haitians who'd owned their own business for decades. Also, did you know a great majority of the goods you donate to charity is actually shipped to other poor and developing countries? Destroying whatever small chances they may have had to sustain themselves and not become dependent on outsiders whose plans are to dump them and accused them of always looking for a handcout at some point when their economy dries completely up due to outsiders shipping in their used junk, and they have to come begging to powerful nations for help?

Does anyone realize the Ethiopian famine was caused by outside American meddling into the country's affairs?

February 17, 2014 at 2:21 p.m.
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