Drue Smith was a journalist of many firsts, which made her a pioneer among women in the profession. First a feature writer for the Chattanooga News Free Press, she later switched to the job of "Society Editor" at the Chattanooga Times. She would live to see the two newspapers merge under the Chattanooga Times Free Press nameplate in 2001. Drue switched to radio and hosted shows on WAPO, WDOD and later WDEF, where she was public affairs director. The day in 1954 that WDEF-TV signed on the air so did she with "Drue's Party Line." She came to Nashville to work in communications for Gov. Frank Clement, leaving that job to covered political news for United Press International, WLAC Radio, the Tennessee Radio Network, WVOL Radio and multiple Nashville community newspapers. The American Women in Radio and TV named her their Broadcaster of the Year at their convention in Las Vegas. The Tennessee House and Senate named her her the 133rd (honorary) member of the General Assembly. The Tennessee Broadcasters' Association made her a life member. Gov. Don Sundquist hosted a reception for her at the Executive Residence attended by former governors living at the time. She was the first woman to cover politics fulltime at the Capitol, was the first woman chair of the Capitol Hill Press Corps, the first woman inducted into the local Society of Professional Journalists (Sigma Delta Chi) chapter, and became its first woman president. She raised thousands of dollars for college journalism scholarships through selling tickets to the Nashville Gridiron Show. The SPJ/Drue Smith scholarship is still awarded annually by the Community Foundation. Veteran Capitol Hill reporters remember for her trademark, sound-bite grabbing strategy at the end of all gubernatorial press conferences: "Governor, what is the bottom line?"
The TJHOF is an independent partner with MTSU's College of Mass Communication, which houses the hall in its Center for Innovation in Media inside the Bragg Mass Communication Building on the MTSU campus.
The Hall of Fame's bylaws note that its inductees represent "those who have made significant and substantial contributions to the journalism profession." Honorees may be living or deceased, native Tennesseans who spent much of their career in state or out of state, or non-natives who spent a substantial part of their career in Tennessee.
Inductees can include reporters, writers, editors, publishers, news directors and other managers, as well as those who have excelled in advertising or public relations and journalism, advertising and PR education.