Flanagan, former journalist in residence, dies Feb. 25

Kent Flanagan, a longtime journalist and open-government advocate who spent 21 years as Tennessee’s bureau chief for The Associated Press, died Feb. 25. He was 69.

Flanagan was the Distinguished Journalist in Residence at MTSU’s School of Journalism from August 2005 to July 2009. The position is tailored for outstanding professional journalists.

Born in Ballinger, Texas, Flanagan began his career as a reporter for the San Angelo (Texas) Standard in 1967 while studying at Angelo State University, where he graduated with honors in 1968.

He was an AP administrative correspondent in North Dakota and news editor in South Carolina before getting promoted in 1983 to bureau chief in Nashville, where he oversaw news and sales until he retired in 2004.

As bureau chief, Flanagan directed news coverage of several major stories in Tennessee, including personally covering in 2000 the state’s first execution in more than 40 years. He was known not only for his sharp editing, keen news sense and quick word play with puns, but also for spotting and encouraging young talent.

After AP, Flanagan served four years as journalist in residence at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, and just over two years as editor of the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.

Most recently, Flanagan served from 2012 to 2013 as executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a nonprofit alliance of media, citizen and professional groups that works to educate the public about open meetings and open records laws.

Flanagan’s wife, Janet, said he died at home after a long illness. He had been talking and joking with his brother just before he died, she said.

Flanagan requested that no services be held. A scholarship fund will be established in his memory.

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Categories: Faculty, News

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