Pilot stores in the Knoxville region are a major sales point for the News Sentinel. In fact, Pilot often offers free newspapers with a coffee purchase on Friday morning. The newspapers this past Friday, being sold at Pilot, had this headline stripped across the top of page one: "FBI: Pilot engaged in fraud."
The situation would make a good case study for a journalism class, illustrating the different roles between independent newspaper newsrooms and the paper's business side.
The raid at Pilot Flying J last week got a lot of attention in Cleveland, where CEO Jimmy Haslam owns the Cleveland Browns NFL team. There was a front-page short, top of the fold, the day after the raid, keying to a full story on a section front. The story was a rewrite quoting Knoxville media stories. The paper followed up during the week with business and sports stories on the impact on the local football team. Online comments have been brutal.
Haslam and Pilot have called Tom Ingram to advise on the situation. Ingram has been on retainer to the Haslam family and Pilot for years on politics, media, and strategic planning. He joins Moxley Carmichael, who handles local public-relations chores for Pilot.
Moxley Carmichael also handles tasks for the News Sentinel, currently producing the newspaper's annual Academic Achievers awards.