SARASOTA, Fla. -- Gregg K. Jones, president and CEO of Jones Media and co-publisher of The Greeneville (Tenn.) Sun, was honored here Monday by the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association (SNPA) for a career described as involving extensive leadership and service both to community and to the newspaper industry.
Jones, 63, who for more than 20 years has headed his family-owned media company based in Greeneville, was presented with the Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award during the awards lunch at SNPA's News Industry Summit here.
The Mayborn award is presented annually to an SNPA executive to recognize his or her vision, community leadership, and contributions to the newspaper industry and SNPA, a news release from the organization stated.
The award is named for Texas newspaperman Frank Mayborn, now deceased, whose foresight and guidance helped shape SNPA in the early 1950s and who served as president of SNPA from 1961 to 1962.
The SNPA is one of the largest regional trade associations of the U.S. newspaper industry, with hundreds of member newspapers and related companies from throughout a 14-state area extending from Texas to the East Coast.
Jones is the fourth generation of his family to work in the newspaper business.
His grandmother, Edith O'Keefe Susong, took over The Greeneville Democrat, the smallest of three local weekly newspapers, in 1916, the news release stated.
Within the next four years, the release continued, she -- along with her mother and father, Quincy Marshall O'Keefe and William Henry O'Keefe -- had bought the other two weekly newspapers in town and consolidated the three publications into a daily paper, The Greeneville Democrat-Sun, later modified to The Greeneville Sun.
This was the beginning of what would become Jones Media.
As a boy, the news release stated, Jones shoveled pig iron and put it into pots so it could be melted for the linotype machine.
He wrote for his high school and college newspapers and joined the staff of The Greeneville Sun full time in 1972.
VARIED NEWSPAPER EXPERIENCE
Over the years, the news release said, he has worked in every department at the Sun, including the pressroom, the mailroom, the composing room, and doing stints as circulation director and marketing director.
He was named co-publisher in 1985 by his father, John M. Jones, who retains the title of publisher.
SNPA President Digby Solomon, president, publisher and CEO of the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., presented the award to Jones.
He told attendees at the News Industry Summit that Jones has lightheartedly been quoted as saying, "When I asked my dad what the difference in titles meant, he paused a moment, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, 'Son, it means we're equal. Except, I'm more equal than you are.'"
'PASSION FOR PUBLIC SERVICE'
Solomon said, "In the tradition of his parents and grandparents, he is a person with a passion for public service -- time and time again stepping up to take on the most daunting tasks in his community -- rarely without gaining the desired results."
He noted that Jones has served as president of Jones Media and its predecessor company, Media Services Group, Inc. since 1987.
He supervises the operations of his family's interests, which now include 14 community newspapers in East Tennessee and western North Carolina, dozens of websites, several travel and tourism guides serving the Smoky Mountain Region and the Southeastern United States, a digital marketing agency, and a telemarketing company.
Jones took the company into extensive Internet operations years before most newspaper companies were doing that, the news release quoted Solomon.
He has served as chairman of the Newspaper Association of America, a director of The Associated Press, president of the Tennessee Press Association and president of SNPA.
He currently is a trustee of the SNPA Foundation and president of the Tennessee Press Association Foundation.
His list of offices and accomplishments at the state, regional, national and international levels is lengthy, Solomon said in making the presentation.
Among them, he noted:
In the early 1990s, he was instrumental in helping the Foundation for the Development of Polish Agriculture, a subset of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, successfully establish an independent newspaper and magazine.
He has served for several years on the board of PAGE Co-operative and is currently its president.
He's a past president of the East Tennessee Foundation, a former board member of the Greene County Partnership, and a member of the successful campaign to have a Los Angeles Class U.S. Navy fast-attack nuclear submarine named after his hometown of Greeneville, the smallest U.S. community to hold that distinction.
Jones is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and continues to be an engaged student who studies ways to improve his newspapers in print and online, Solomon said.
He called Jones "a great example of family-owned newspapering at its best -- committed to his community, to his employees and to his journalistic craft. He has earned this award."
In his response, Jones touched briefly on the history of his family's multi-generational involvement in the newspaper business, and explained why both earlier family members and he have found it to be a fulfilling life's work.
He also expressed deep appreciation to those responsible for his selection for the Mayborn honor, and to SNPA itself "for making a difference in my life and the life of my family" over a period of many years.
Jones, who received standing ovations when the award was announced and following his response, was presented with a sculpture by renowned glass artist Hans Godo Frabel titled "Reaching for the Stars."
Previous recipients of the Frank W. Mayborn Award include newspaper industry and SNPA leaders Walter Hussman, Derek Dunn-Rankin, Stewart Bryan, Frank Daniels, Mary Jacobus, Lissa Vahldiek, Ashton Phelps, Jim Boone and Ogden Nutting.