With nearly 40 years of experience as a journalist, Kent Flanagan left The Associated Press in November 2004 after more than 25 years, including 21 years as bureau chief in Nashville.
Flanagan began his career at the San Angelo (Texas) Standard-Times while he pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Angelo State University, where he graduated as an honor student with majors in journalism and English literature in 1968.
Soon after graduation, he entered the U.S. Army where he graduated at the top of his officer basic course at the Defense Information School before taking assignments as a public affairs officer in Germany and, later, Vietnam.
After completing his military obligation, Flanagan resumed his journalism career as a copy editor for the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) News and Sun-Sentinel. In 1974, he joined the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News as copy desk chief and associate news editor. He later became editor of the combined Sunday Express-News.
Flanagan joined AP in 1979 in Philadelphia just a few weeks after the nuclear-powered energy generating plant at Three Mile Island malfunctioned and became an international story. In Philadelphia, Flanagan also helped cover the 1980 presidential campaign.
Over four and a half years, Flanagan moved three more times to South Carolina where he was state news editor, North Dakota where he was administrative correspondent and, then, Nashville.
Flanagan has directed news coverage of many major news stories in Tennessee over the past two decades and personally covered and reported the first execution in Tennessee in over 40 years in 2000.
As a journalist, Flanagan has promoted newsroom diversity for decades, including hiring one of the first minority interns in AP’s fledgling program more than 20 years ago.
He also is deeply involved in First Amendment issues, having served as SPJ Sunshine chairman for Tennessee and founding member and officer of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.
He serves as vice-chairman of the Tennessee Press Association’s Journalism Education Committee and is the founder of the Tennessee Intercollegiate Press Association and The News Institute at MTSU, where he is distinguished journalist in residence.