KNOXVILLE — Dr. James Crook, the former director of the University of Tennessee School of Journalism and Electronic Media, died April 30 in Knoxville. Dr. Crook led the School of Journalism for 28 years before retiring in 2002 and becoming professor emeritus. He also served as a president of the East Tennessee Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Crook died at the age of 82, just two days short of his 83rd birthday.
He was considered the “father” of the Front Page Follies, an annual satiric send-up of Knoxville’s newsmakers that raised funds for the Front Page Foundation. Dr. Crook, a co-founder of the Follies, was an excellent vocalist and served as musical director for a number of years. His wife, Diane, an experienced theater person and teacher, teamed with her husband during the productions. The couple met while they were teaching journalism, speech and drama in Iowa in high school and community college and married in 1966.
During his teaching career, he established the national scholarly journal, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator. In 2003, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication awarded Crook the Eleanor Blum Distinguished Service to Research Award, which recognizes individuals who have devoted their careers to promoting research in mass communication, according to the UT School of Journalism and Electronic Media.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, May 7, at 11 a.m. at Church Street United Methodist Church, 900 Henley St., in downtown Knoxville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Front Page Foundation to fund journalism scholarships
— East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists