As a young college graduate working for his first newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Lee covered a bank robbery in Justin, Texas, where he used witnesses’ descriptions to put together a pencil sketch of the robber. Two weeks later, the thief was caught. An old TV series, Pall-Mall’s “Big Story”—dramatized the action with actors David Hedison as the reporter, and Arch Johnson as the bank robber. Lee was asked to play himself. He also did a sketch of Arch Johnson to be used in the program. More on John Lee's "Big Story" here.

He appeared on television frequently over the years, usually as a journalism expert or a guest author to discuss one or another of his books. He kept no records of TV appearances until 1985-1992 while teaching at Memphis (see list of guest appearances below).

Also in Memphis, Lee hosted a weekly PBS program called “WeekEnd,” with three to four guests each week and a roundtable discussion format to investigate newsworthy issues of the week. He prepared and led 19 of these programs during the year (see discussion topics and guests below).

As Guest

  • "The Journalistic Interview." Videotape for high schools (panel presentation with Joyce Morrison and Candy Justice to precede demonstration), funded by Tennessee Press Association, 1992.
  • "The Gulf War." WREG-TV, Newsmakers, (panel presentation with Jerry Tate and Alex Coleman of Channel 3, and Dan Henderson of the Commercial Appeal), February 2, 1991.
  • "Media and the Gulf War." WMC-TV, Channel 5 News, January 22, 1991.
  • "Media and the Earthquake." WHBQ-TV, Channel 13 News, December 3, 1990.
  • "Gary Hart and the Press" (with hostess Rachelle Rowe). WHBQ-TV, Press Conference, September 12 and 13, 1987.
  • "Writing the Paperback Novel" (with hostess Marge Thrasher). WHBQ-TV, AM Memphis, January 22, 1986.
  • "Holiday Inn Cable Network." Public Broadcast System, Nightly Business Report, November 1985 (national segment).

As Host

  • "A Conversation with Paul Duke" (with guest Paul Duke, PBS network personality), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, March 29, 1985.
  • "The Art of Fund-Raising" (with guests Robert Sharpe, John Fockler, Gid Smith and Dan Copp), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, March 8, 1985.
  • "The Press Under Attack" (with guests Haynes Johnson, Tom Zynda, Larry Buser and John DeMott), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, March 1, 1985.
  • "Race Relations: Part II" (with guests Ken Neill, Kate Gooch, Margaret Dichtel and Mabra Holeyfield), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, February 22, 1985.
  • "Race Relations: Part I" (with guests Larry Conley, Larry Moore, Herman Ewing and Charles Dinkins), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, February 15, 1985.
  • "Taxes: Part II" (with guests Brent Carper, Lester Sewel, Jeane Palmer and John Nichols), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, February 8, 1985.
  • "Winter Storms--1985" (with guests Brian Peters, Johnnie Watson and Clint Buchanan), WKNO-TV,WeekEnd, February 1, 1985.
  • "Crime Prevention" (with guests David Booker, Randy Ryker, Gloria Anderek and Mark Lindstrom), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, January 25, 1985.
  • "Taxes--1984" (with guests Brent Carper, Lester Sewel, Ted Tedesco and Neal Graham), WKNO-TV,WeekEnd, January 18, 1985.
  • "Shelby Delegation and Tennessee's 94th General Assembly" (with guests Terry Keeter, Dan Byrd and Roscoe Dixon), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, January 11, 1985.
  • "State of the Arts in Memphis" (with guests Edwin Howard, Robert Driver, Philip Converse and Jackie Nichols), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, January 4, 1985.
  • "Big Stories of 1984" (with guests Les Seago, Gil Hayes and Anthony Hicks), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, December 28, 1984.
  • "Regional Report--Mid-South in the News" (with guests Joseph Ellis, Tony Wilson and Walter Webb), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, December 21, 1984.
  • "Memphis Downtown Development" (with guests John Dudas, Madge Clark and Pat Halloran), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, December 14, 1984.
  • "Tennessee Amusement Tax" (with guests Alan Salomon, Wali Shaheed, Fred Bracey and Daral May), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, December 7, 1984.
  • "Memphis Land Use" (with guests Peggy McCollough, Lawrence Buser, Ralph Smith, Russell Bloodworth and Sue Nolley), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, November 30, 1984.
  • "Agriculture in the Mid-South" (with guests Milton Jones, Dick Sneddon, Richard Powell and John Davies), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, November 23, 1984.
  • "Tennessee Peer Review Organization" (with guests Sandy Lutz, Richard DeSaussure, Maurice Elliott and Allen Edmondson), WKNO-TV,WeekEnd, November 16, 1984.
  • "Annexation" (with guests Rachelle Rowe, Phil Whittenburg, Jerry Rhodes and Steve Bledsoe), WKNO-TV, WeekEnd, November 9, 1984.