2013 Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award

Gregg Jones recognized for his contributions to the newspaper industry


Gregg Jones, president and CEO of Jones Media and co-publisher of The Greeneville (Tenn.) Sun, was honored Monday for a storied career while working at his family-owned media company. During the awards lunch at SNPA's News Industry Summit, he was presented with the Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award.

This award is presented each year to an SNPA executive to recognize his or her vision, community leadership and contributions to the newspaper industry and SNPA.

The award is named for Texas newspaperman Frank Mayborn, whose foresight and guidance helped shape SNPA in the early 1950s and who served as president of SNPA from 1961 to 1962.

Read Gregg Jones' remarks in accepting the Mayborn Award
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 in 1916.  Within the next four years , she – along with her mother and father – had bought the other two newspapers in town and consolidated them into what would become The Greeneville Sun. This was the beginning of what would become Jones Media.

As a boy, 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.  Over the years, he has worked in every department at the Sun, including working in the pressroom, the mailroom, the composing room, and doing stints as circulation director and marketing director, before he was named co-publisher in 1985 by his father, John M. Jones. John M. Jones retained 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.'"

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 West 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.

He took the company into extensive Internet operations years before most newspaper companies were doing that.

He has served as chairman of NAA, 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.

Among them:

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 director of the Greene County Partnership, and a member of the successful campaign to have a Los Angeles Class submarine named after his hometown, becoming the smallest town in America to have ever had a major naval vessel named after it.

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.

A former 1st District Congressman from Tennessee once referred to Jones, affectionately, as "Bulldog" – to convey the determination and perseverance, despite hard challenges, that he has faced in both his professional and community work.

Solomon said Jones is "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."

Jones 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:

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Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award, Jones, Solomon, Hussman, Dunn-Rankin, Bryan, Daniels, Jacobus, Vahldiek, Phelps, Boone, Nutting
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