MTSU professor recognized as 2017 Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame inductee

Photo courtesy of Stephen Leon Alligood

Stephen Leon Alligood, an MTSU professor and former reporter for The Tennessean, will be inducted, along with three other journalists, into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame during its fifth annual ceremony.

TJHOF is an independently operated organization that has partnered with MTSU to recognize outstanding individuals in the field of journalism. The TJHOF website states that inductees are “individuals who have made significant and substantial contributions to the profession during a career that includes the practice of Journalism in print, broadcast and new media.” Inductees do not have to be native to Tennessee, but they must have spent a substantial portion of their career in the state.

The inductees for TJHOF’s class of 2017 include Alligood, Tom Humphrey, Don Whitehead and Larry Woody, and the class will be inducted at 4:30 p.m. in the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro.

Alligood has worked as an MTSU associate professor of journalism for the past nine years, following an almost 30-year career as a news reporter for various outlets. He said that he was both surprised and delighted to learn that he would be a 2017 inductee.

“I thought, ‘My, my. How did this happen?’ But, it’s an honor,” Alligood said. “It’s a career that’s been recognized. I just spent my time, head down, doing my work, doing what I thought I should be doing, and it’s nice that somebody else thought so to the point that they want to recognize you for it.”

Alligood first learned of the recognition about a month ago when he received a letter from TJHOF.

“I’ve had plenty of time to think about this since I got the letter,” Alligood said. “There’s so many other people I would have named to take the spot, so many people that were influential in my career. Everyone tells me to shut up about that and just accept it, and I’m going to try to do that. I feel very honored, and you just don’t expect anything like this to happen. So, when it does, you don’t quite know how to react. But, I am humbled by it.”

Alligood began his professional career after graduating from the University of Georgia, where he studied broadcast journalism. He began writing for the Madisonian, a small, weekly newspaper in Madison, Georgia. After two years, in 1982, Alligood moved to Clinton, Tennessee, to work at Clinton-Courier News, and then, in 1986, moved to Nashville to write for the Nashville Banner.

“I was (at the Nashville Banner) for 11 1/2 years, and I helped shut the place down,” Alligood joked. “I was there until we closed in 1998.”

Less than a week after the Banner closed its doors, Alligood began working as a reporter for The Tennessean and stayed for almost 11 years.

Alligood said that he is familiar with the work of the other inductees and is honored to be recognized alongside such notable journalists.

“I felt very honored,” Alligood said. “They’re a good group … It’s hard to be a newspaper reader in Tennessee without reading Larry Woody’s columns.”

Alligood added that, despite his extensive career at prominent newspapers, he has accomplished some of the work that he is most proud of during his tenure at the university.

“I’ve done some of my best work since I’ve left the newsroom,” Alligood said. “I like to think that I have a role in shaping the next generation … I feel like I am contributing. I learned from my father early on, a job has to provide meaning, not just a paycheck.”

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email

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