Otis Sanford is a veteran journalist and nationally-recognized speaker, lecturer and opinion leader. He currently holds the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis. He is the political analyst and commentator for WATN-TV Local 24 News. From 2011 to 2018, he provided political commentary and analysis for WREG-TV Channel 3 News. Sanford also writes a weekly column for the Daily Memphian, Memphis’s first online news site. Before joining the U of M in 2011, Sanford was editor for opinion and editorials at The Commercial Appeal and formerly served as the newspaper’s managing editor, the first African-American to hold both positions.
A Mississippi native and Ole Miss graduate, Sanford has 40 years of professional journalism experience. Starting in 1975 at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., Sanford’s career began as a feature and entertainment writer. He joined The Commercial Appeal as a staff reporter, and then moved to The Pittsburgh Press as an assistant city editor. In 1992, he was named deputy city editor of the Detroit Free Press and later returned to The Commercial Appeal as deputy managing editor.
In his current role at the U of M, Sanford is a full-time faculty member who teaches students from the freshmen level to graduate students. He conducts various lectures and workshops both on and off campus on journalism, politics, the First Amendment and public policy. He also is co-host of the weekly political and public affairs talk show, Informed Sources.
Sanford is past president of the Associated Press Media Editors and past board chairman of the Mid-America Press Institute. Known for his longtime advocacy of freedom of the press and public service, Sanford is a nationally-recognized leader in newsroom management, diversity and journalism ethics. He is married to Rev. Dr. Elaine Sanford, founder and executive director of Her Faith Ministries in Memphis, and they have four children.