VOL. 126 | NO. 150 | Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Schutt Excels As Volunteer, Outdoorsman, Businessman
By Andy Meek
When Peter Schutt bought The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. from his father John Paul “Jack” Jones in 1994, it marked the fourth generation of ownership for the family-run business whose story dates back more than a century.
Peter Schutt on a Great Outdoors University trip to Hannegan Pass in the North Cascade Mountains.
(Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Wildlife Federation)
This year represents a milestone in that story of the city’s paper of record. The Daily News is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and this is the latest in a series of articles that marks that occasion by looking at the past, present and future of the company and its publications.
Schutt, a businessman with a passion for the outdoors and for supporting outdoor and community causes, started working for his family’s paper during the summer of 1966.
It was the same summer Schutt got his driver’s license. He first did a variety of jobs at the paper, from helping send out invoices to visiting court clerks’ offices to gather the records the newspaper published.
Technology, needless to say, was still in its infancy. Today, The Daily News has a dynamic Web presence that includes its website, blog and accounts on Twitter and Facebook.
But back then, Schutt learned to type on an IBM Selectric typewriter.
“We had typewriters in some of the court offices, but not all,” he said. “I remember that the two women who worked for the paper and trained me used shorthand to copy information in government offices where we didn’t have a typewriter to use.”
Schutt said The Daily News has always printed editions of the paper onsite. His earliest memories of the business’ printing operation from the 1950s and 1960s recall the heat and smoke from the press room, where melted lead was used for setting type.
“The typesetters literally set all the letters, one by one, by hand, and that’s after they literally made each letter using molten lead poured into molds,” Schutt said. “News articles and public records were sent back to these employees who would arrange the type by hand while looking at the copy that was given to them. Amazingly tedious, given all the technology we have now.”
It eventually gave way, of course, to technological advances like the paper switching to electronic typesetters in the late 1970s and the Internet-fueled advancements of later years.
After attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Schutt returned home to earn a degree in psychology with a minor in business administration from the University of Memphis in 1973. He moved to the Seattle area and worked in the mental health field for six years.
In the early 1980s, he came back to Memphis and joined The Daily News as managing editor.
The paper’s technology advancements along the way mirrored its evolution on the content side, an evolution that has picked up steam under Schutt.
The paper began as The Daily Record in 1886. In its early years, the paper had a ledger-type format listing for transactions and court matters. The paper in recent years began the development of its dynamic and fast-moving editorial side, complete with a vibrant Web presence.
Outside of the office, Schutt is an avid hunter and outdoorsman, an interest that dates back to the first memory he has of fishing around the age of 4 and of hunting with his godfather at Hatchie Coon Club in Arkansas at age 5.
“On reflection, I think that’s why it’s so important to me to make sure that today’s kids have a chance to be connected with nature,” Schutt said. “What you do early in life sticks with you in later life.”
That’s why Schutt has been a long-time supporter of the local council of the Boy Scouts, especially its Scoutreach program that serves inner-city boys.
The Daily News also has supported the BRIDGES organization for years. And Schutt was one of the members of the Wolf River Conservancy board of directors when it was founded in the 1980s. That’s another group The Daily News supports.
And while it’s not purely an “outdoors” program, Schutt is proud The Daily News is a major supporter of the Binghampton Development Corp.’s Urban Farms. Its mission is to connect people with locally produced food, so that still facilitates a connection to the outdoors, he said.
Among his other endeavors, Schutt has helped behind the scenes with the Shelby Farms Greenline project.
But the most important work Schutt believes The Daily News supports is Great Outdoors University. He envisioned and created that program in 2005 to provide nature hikes, fishing trips and other daylong adventures to children in need.
Schutt, who earlier this year was the first Tennessean to be named the National Wildlife Federation’s National Volunteer of the Year, provided the program’s initial funding, and he remains a primary contributor. The program also gets financial support from private donors and organizations.
“Operated through the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, (Great Outdoors University) provides field trips into nature for inner-city boys and girls in Memphis and Nashville,” Schutt said.
“To date, we have introduced more than 7,000 children to the outdoors.”