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Special prosecutor says Pope County officials violated FOIA

Guest Column:

Meet them where they are By John Foust

Arkansas Press Association

Publisher Weekly Vol. 15 | No. 4 | Thursday, January 23, 2020 | Serving Press and State Since 1873

Accustomed to sprints, Brown adjusts to publishing in the long run in new role at Little Rock’s Daily Record Wes Brown is a champion marathon runner who spent much of his professional career in a sprint. He’d sprint to the Capitol for an impromptu news conference or to the phone for a corporate earnings call. After that, it was a sprint to finish an article by deadline.

venture to that of a marathon. He will take a big-picture look at the product and find ways to methodically improve. Brown, a native of Hope, has won more than 250 road races and was Oklahoma’s runner of the year in 1991. That same year, he finished third among American participants in the Boston Marathon. He’s won Fort Worth’s Cowtown Marathon four times.

The last few months, though, have been a welcome change for the longtime business and politics reporter. Brown’s the new publisher of The Daily Record. It’s a decidedly slower pace than in previous jobs at Talk Business and Politics, Stephens Media and in corporate public relations for Alltel. “For someone like me who’s been a deadline junkie for most of my life, it’s kind of a shift,” said Brown, who took over the nearly century-old Pulaski County publication in November.

Wes Brown

The Daily Record is a trusted repository of

It’s easy for Brown to compare his new

public information, featuring court records, legal notices and real estate transaction. Its core constituency is the central Arkansas legal and real estate community.

He was a captain of Arkansas State University’s cross country team and was roommates at ASU with Al Joyner, husband of the late Florence GriffithJoyner. In high school, Brown worked at the Hope Star. His first full-time newspaper job was at the Tulsa World, where he was part of that newspaper’s award-winning team that covered the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He later moved to Wall Street, Continued on Page 2

Election set to modernize method for amending bylaws Arkansas Press Association members will be asked starting Friday to adopt a change to the association’s constitution to streamline the method for approving future amendments to APA’s governing documents. The proposed amendment mailed to the designated voter at each APA member newspaper would change the way amendments are ratified. The APA Board of Directors approved the amendment for

election in its December meeting. Voting by mail will be available to members until March 2.

the current constitution makes it nearly impossible to enact these needed improvements.”

“APA has a constitution and bylaws that have not been modified since 2006,” said APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley. “We all know how much our industry has changed over the last 14 years, and our association’s structure must change as well in order to meet the needs of our membership. Unfortunately,

Continued on Page 2


Accustomed to sprints, Brown adjusts to publishing in the long run in new role at Little Rock’s Daily Record

Continued from Page 1

where he was chief energy correspondent for Bridge News and Reuters. He returned to Arkansas in the early 2000s as business editor for Stephens Media, then briefly worked in PR before returning to journalism with Talk Business. He is a frequent contributor on KARN news radio and AETN’s Arkansas Week. He views his role at The Daily Record as a chance to contribute substantively to the development and improvement of a product important to several central Arkansas constituencies. “I loved what I did at Talk Business and Politics and I still have great relationships with Roby (Brock) and Michael Tilley, but this was an opportunity where I thought, this is kind of the back half of my career, so it’s a great opportunity to actually put my stamp on something,” Brown said. “There’s opportunity to fill a niche in this community. My experience in this business is broad, with experience in business, government and politics, so I think I bring all that to the table.”

Given his background in breaking news and business reporting, Brown said Daily Record readers should expect a renewed push toward substantive news articles relevant to the newspaper’s readers. The publication focuses on news from the Arkansas Bar Association, Realtors and University of Arkansas at Little Rock alumni. Brown said the added news content in The Daily Record will be meaningful to those core groups. He is in the process of hiring freelance reporters as the newspaper expands its coverage. “One of the things I want to do here is bring a sense of news back to The Daily Record with fresher updated news in our little niche,” Brown said. “There are a wealth of stories out there that just affect the legal and real estate communities. It’s vast, and it’s a good starting place for me.” In addition to new freelancers, Brown is joined by the newspaper’s assistant editor, Caitlin Smith, in producing the weekly publication. Brown and Smith,

a graduate student at the University of Central Arkansas, are both black – and Brown said it’s been a focus throughout his career to mentor younger black reporters and encourage diversity in newsrooms. “It’s important for me to see young, black reporters in our business do well,” Brown said. “Often, I’ve been the first black reporter in the institutions I’ve gone to.” Brown encouraged newspaper publishers and student media advisors to help recruit more minorities into the industry through offering them experience and rewarding their work. “Throughout my career, 30 years in the business, I’ve been asking that question,” about a lack of diversity in newsrooms, Brown said. “One thing I think is so important is to create interest in our profession and do outreach before students get to college. … Just like any other career, it’s about getting kids interested at an early age.”

Election set to modernize method for amending bylaws Continued from Page 1

to participate as voters. As it is now, any vote not submitted has the same effect as a “no” vote.

Currently, the constitution requires an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all APA members to modify the constitution and bylaws. In recent elections, though, it’s been difficult just to obtain enough returned ballots from two-thirds of membership.

with a two-thirds vote of members who submitted ballots. This amendment reflects a typical election process where results are decided based on the total number of ballots cast, rather than by the total number of registered voters.

The proposed amendment to be voted upon by membership would allow changes

Wimberley said the APA board views this change as a way to encourage members

Wimberley encouraged all voting members to return a ballot by mail. Members with questions should contact Wimberley directly at (501) 374-1500 or ashley@ arkansaspress.org.

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Send your staffing changes to info@arkansaspress.org to be updated online and included in the Arkansas Publisher Weekly.

—Eduardo Galeano Arkansas Publisher Weekly

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January 23, 2020


Don’t land in big Deadline for APA Better Newspaper trouble ahead of Advertising Contest entries nears the Big Game Entries are being accepted now for the Winners will be announced at the APA’s As a multibillion-dollar organization, the National Football League has nearly unlimited reach and resources. In the past, the NFL has been overprotective of its premier game, the Super Bowl, and its trademarks surrounding that game.

Arkansas Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Advertising Contest, the annual competition to recognize and award the best in ads from newspapers across the state. The entry deadline is Friday, Jan. 31, so enter as soon as possible.

To enter, and for more information on rules and instructions for entering, visit www. newspapercontest.com/arkansas. The contest will award the best advertising in several categories, with separate divisions for weekly and daily newspapers. Winning entries will be judged by members of the Kansas Press Association.

The NFL has previously pursued legal action against advertisers who have used the trademarked words “Super Bowl” in advertising. The league even once sent a cease-and-desist letter to an Indiana church that advertised a “Super Bowl Bash.”

A special prosecutor appointed to determine whether Pope County elected officials violated the Freedom of Information Act determined there were FOIA violations, but decided not to pursue the matter further.

According to Mitchell Stabbe of broadcastlawblog.com, the NFL is a stickler for its rules because its “official sponsors” would not pay massive rights fees “if a competitor could freely use the ‘Super Bowl’ trademark or the game to promote itself without also paying a license fee.” Stabbe noted that the trademark prohibition applies only to advertising and commercial use of the trademarks. News organizations always have the right to use the words “Super Bowl,” team names and other trademarks during noncommercial coverage of the game.

As reported in the Democrat-Gazette, Barrett said in a letter that pursuing criminal charges would not be “prudent or possible at this time” largely because the circuit court judge in the same matter had already dismissed a civil case. A criminal case, which would go before the same

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

Categories range from best single ad to best online ad. There is a separate category for special sections and one for best use of humor in an advertisement. For more information or for questions about the contest or the online submission process, contact Terri Cobb at (501) 3741500 or email terri@arkansaspress.org. Please hurry to get entries in by the Jan. 31 deadline.

Special prosecutor says Pope County officials violated FOIA

According to the Arkansas DemocratGazette, Special Prosecutor Jason Barrett found that Pope County Judge Ben Cross and some members of the county’s Quorum Court held meetings in secret in violation of FOIA. The secret meetings were held in advance of the Quorum Court’s decision to support the Cherokee Nation Businesses’ efforts to obtain a casino license.

The term “Super Bowl,” the logo, the NFL shield and team names and designs are all trademarked and should not be used in advertising unless the advertiser is an official NFL partner. Local advertisers who hope to cash in on the Super Bowl’s popularity in ads should use generic terms like “big game” or “game day” and avoid the terms and designs trademarked by the NFL.

annual Ad Conference at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute near Morrilton on March 13.

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judge, would require a higher standard of proof. That said, Barrett wrote in his letter that the FOIA was violated by Cross and Quorum Court members. Their actions were not “approved or condoned” just because no charges were filed, according to the newspaper. Barrett was quoted as saying: “The FOIA is in place to allow the public to be aware of the process that is used by those who govern. Here, that purpose was thwarted by back door meetings and deals and, at least a portion of the citizens of Pope County are now rightfully concerned about the process. It may very well be that the Quorum Court and County Judge have reached the best decision for Pope County, but due to their system of governing in secret, some people will always question their motives and this result.” January 23, 2020


El Dorado reporter earns award from Preserve Arkansas Tia Lyons, a reporter for the El Dorado News-Times, was honored for her work covering preservation efforts in her coverage area. Lyons was presented an award for “Outstanding Preservation Reporting in the Media.” Preserve Arkansas is a nonprofit group which provides education and advocacy around the state’s heritage. Lyons was praised for her coverage of historic preservation in downtown El Dorado. According to an article in the News-Times, the chairman of the El Dorado Historic District Commission praised Lyons’ “professionalism and integrity.”

“It is because of her efforts in reporting the activities of the Historic District Commission that so much of the community has gotten behind its efforts,” said Dr. Kenneth Bridges. “Her coverage has explained how changes in state and federal laws over the years benefit owners of historic properties and highlight the efforts of individuals who have transformed dilapidated buildings and rehabilitated them to their proper historic glory. She has also covered the histories of neighborhoods and buildings, helping the public understand what is at stake with preservation.” Lyons’ editor, Caleb Slinkard, called Lyons “a valuable and experienced member of our team.”

Tia Lyons

MARK YOUR CALENDAR March 12 & 13, 2020 APA Advertising Conference Winthrop Rockefeller Institute Petit Jean Mountain

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

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January 23, 2020


Guest Column: Meet them where they are By John Foust Tim manages an ad sales team. “When I started my career in the newspaper business, I quickly learned that advertisers can be worlds apart in their knowledge of marketing,” he said. “That’s why one of my favorite sales principles is the old slogan, ‘Meet them where they are.’ “This means we have to recognize that our prospects have different levels of experience. Most of them don’t have our knowledge of the intricacies of newspapers. If we don’t talk to them on their level, they will tune us out. And most of them are too polite to tell us we’re doing a poor job of explaining things.” Tim’s comments remind me of the time my wife and I helped her father select a car. He loved his 14-year-old car, but it was time for a replacement, because expensive things were beginning to go wrong with it. At the dealership, we found a nice used car with only 12,000 miles – a much newer version of his old model. Our salesperson was sincere and downto-earth, but unfortunately, he was hung up on technology. He spent most of the test drive talking about the screen in the middle of the dashboard.

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

He was a walking encyclopedia of Bluetooth and wi-fi and digital programming, but my father-in-law had no interest in those things. He just wanted to see how the car drove and learn the relevant differences between his old car and the new one. His patience with the barrage of comments like “look at this other cool feature” was a clear sign that he liked the car. In spite of the salesperson’s single-minded focus, my wife’s dad decided it was the right car for him. When the transaction was over, he mentioned that the salesperson was nice, but extremely confusing. The next day, he accepted my offer of a simple tutorial. I sat in the car with him, placed my hand over the dashboard display and said, “The first thing we’re going to do is forget about all of this.” He said, “That’s a good start.” Then we reviewed and practiced some basics until he was comfortable. When we finished, he said he was more confident and even more excited about the car. Age and experience make a big difference. That car salesperson should have known that a person of my father-in-law’s age

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wouldn’t care about fancy technology. But he was so blinded by his own interest that he couldn’t see things from another person’s perspective. “It’s all a matter of common sense,” Tim said. “If a prospect is a numbers person, we should talk in terms of numbers – even if we’re not numbers people ourselves. If someone is an idea person, we should focus on ad concepts. Of course, this means we have to be prepared to talk to about advertising from all angles.” Meet your prospects where they are. Let that be your guideline and you’ll be on the right road.

(c) Copyright 2020 by John Foust. All rights reserved. John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information: john@johnfoust.com

January 16, 2020

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: January 23, 2020  

The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late-breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: January 23, 2020  

The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late-breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...