Deborah Fisher

Deborah Fisher

Deborah Fisher

Director, John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies

Deborah Fisher is director of MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies. She brings more than two decades of experience as a journalist to help the College of Media and Entertainment expand national awareness of First Amendment issues.

The Seigenthaler Chair supports a variety of activities related to the First Amendment, free speech, free press rights and other topics of concern for contemporary journalism. This has included distinguished visiting professors and visiting lecturers at MTSU, research related to free expression, seminars and meetings dedicated to expressive freedom and hands-on training for student journalists through the Seigenthaler News Service.

Fisher spent more than 25 years as a reporter and editor. After graduating from Baylor University, she worked in newspapers in Tyler, Beaumont and Corpus Christi, Texas. In Corpus Christi, she was editor and vice president, after rising through the ranks as business reporter and as an editor on the city desk. She became The Tennessean’s business editor in 2003, and in 2007 was promoted to senior editor for news. In 2013, Fisher became executive director of Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides education on the state’s public records and open meetings laws.

Contact Deborah Fisher at, and follow on on Twitter @FreeSpeechMTSU.

Past Seigenthaler Chair Holders and Directors

1986 — John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies created

1988 — John Henry Faulk, former CBS commentator (chair holder)

1991 — Jim Squires, former Chicago Tribune editor (chair holder)

1992 — Wallace Terry, former The Washington Post reporter (chair holder)

1997 — David Eason, former MTSU journalism professor (director)

1997 — John Mashek, veteran political reporter (chair holder)

2000 — Wendell “Sonny” Rawls, MTSU journalism professor and former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer (chair holder)

2004 — Bill Kovach, former Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor (chair holder)

2005 — Ed Kimbrell, MTSU professor and former dean of its College of Mass Communication (interim director)

2006 — Beverly Keel, MTSU recording industry professor (director)

2008 — Chris Clark, retired WTVF-TV anchor (chair holder)

2011 — Deborah Gump, MTSU School of Journalism and Strategic Media professional in residence and former director of print/online for the Committee of Concerned Journalists (director)

2012 — Wendell “Sonny” Rawls (director)

2014 — Pat Embry, a former editor at the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean (director)

2016 – Deborah Fisher, former senior editor for news at The Tennessean (director)