Photo by Alexis Marshall / Assistant News Editor
The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame welcomed MTSU professor Leon Alligood to the Class of 2017 Tuesday at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro for his contributions to the field of journalism. He was among four honored in the induction ceremony.
Alligood is a preacher’s son from Southern Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia at Athens as an undergraduate initially pursuing law. He dabbled in theater before moving on to journalism, which he admittedly chose because the program did not require a math credit.
After graduating, Alligood forged a 30-year career in the field, working first at the late Nashville Banner and then at the The Tennessean. While he is well-known for his human-interest stories, Alligood also accompanied the 101st Airborne Division as an embed journalist on two combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Alligood said, as he accepted his award, that he was “just so thankful that thousands of people took (him) into their homes” while he was writing for the Nashville publications.
“It’s just such a delight to go out into the community and talk to people and share their stories,” Alligood said.
After three decades in the field, Alligood decided to pursue teaching at MTSU. He joined the College of Media and Entertainment in 2008 as an associate professor. He teaches reporting, feature writing and multimedia journalism. Alligood also instructs a three-week feature-writing course each summer that partners with local newspapers in each of the state’s three grand divisions, commonly nicknamed “the road trip course.”
“I am so grateful for MTSU taking a chance on me,” Alligood said.
Even after a long career in the field earning awards in state, regional and national competitions, Alligood said he believes he saved the best for last.
“I believe I’m doing my best work right now,” Alligood said from the TJHOF stage.
Alligood thanked some of his students in attendance including Emily West, former editor-in-chief of Sidelines, for which Alligood is the faculty adviser.
He was swarmed with colleagues, friends and family ready to congratulate him after the ceremony.
“Oh, it’s overwhelming to have something like this happen. You don’t plan for it. All I did was my job — the best I could — and it was good ride … I had a lot of fun,” Alligood said.
Alligood celebrated his achievement with his wife, Bertie, their sons, Arthur and Shepherd, and three granddaughters.
After his speech, Alligood made sure to double down on the statement he made about his career in education.
“What I’m doing now, what I said, I really mean it. I think I’m doing my best work now as a teacher,” Alligood said.
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