Kent Flanagan was a native Texan who spent more than 40 years in journalism, practicing on distinct platforms, including 21 years as the chief-of-bureau for the Associated Press in Tennessee.
By his count, it was much "more than" four decades. He told an interviewer in 2012: "I've been a journalist since the age of 12. I got drafted in middle school to write sports for the student newspaper, and kept going." The Ballinger, Texas, native graduated from Angelo State University in 1968 and served four years in the Army, including service in Vietnam. He later worked for the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel in Florida and the San Antonio Express-News before joining the AP as a newsman in Pennsylvania in 1979.
AP sent him to South Carolina and North Dakota before his Nashville posting in 1983. In 2000, he witnessed and covered Tennessee's first execution in 40 years. He left the AP in 2004 and served four years as journalist-in-residence at Middle Tennessee State University, and over two years as editor of the Shelbyville Times-Gazette. Flanagan was executive director in 2012-2013 of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a nonprofit alliance of media, citizen and professional groups he helped form in 2003.