Guy Lincoln Smith, Jr.
Bristol Bulletin; Johnson City Staff News; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; The Knoxville Journal
As founder of two newspapers, publisher of another, and editor of one of the state's major dailies for 31 years, Guy Lincoln Smith Jr. was a prominent figure in Tennessee journalism from the early 1920s until his death in 1968. Smith was born September 30, 1898, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He was graduated from high school there, attended the University of Tennessee for a year, and then transferred to Princeton University where he was graduated with an A.B. degree in 1919.
He became a reporter and editorial writer for the Knoxville Journal in 1920, leaving in 1921 to found the Johnson City Chronicle. He was editor and publisher of that newspaper until 1935, and during that time also published the Johnson City Staff News (1924-1935). In 1925 he also founded the Bristol Bulletin which he operated for several years. It was the predecessor of the present Bristol newspapers. He returned to Knoxville in September, 1937, as editor of the Journal and remained in that post until his death on November 21, 1968.
Although Smith began the editorial campaign in Johnson City, it was as editor of the Journal that he was to devote countless editorials over the next 25 years to advocate that all legislative seats--from county court to U.S. Congress--be based on population without regard to other factors. When his editorials did not bring about the desired results as rapidly as he would have liked, he joined a group of other litigants in a law suit that eventually brought about the Supreme Court's one-man, one-vote rule not only in Tennessee but in every other state.
While editor, Smith campaigned vigorously for measures to help expand the city of Knoxville through annexations, revitalize the central business district, develop a network of industrial parks to attract more business and industry to the city, and to construct a civic auditorium and coliseum as a convention site. He also editorialized for legalized sale of alcohol as a revenue-raising measure, bi-partisan election commissions, and clean city and county elections.
Smith's work on behalf of charitable causes was well known throughout the area. In 1940 he established The Journal Milk Fund, a Christmas charity that has raised more than $700,000. His editorial support of a new facility for the East Tennessee Children's Hospital helped raise nearly $3 million in two years. He also organized a special "brick" fund to raise almost $300,000 more for the hospital. And his editorials helped keep the Knoxville Zoo from closing and brought about a renewed interest that has resulted in a complete new home for the facility.
Smith's good work in promoting numerous causes for the improvement of life in his city and state is evident at every hand. His contribution to journalism lives on in the newspapers he established in two Tennessee cities and in the paper he edited so vigorously for 31 years.