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Guest Column: Newspapers need to explain how we work by Al Cross

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APA Legislative Review

ARKANSAS

PRESS

Ark a nsa s

Publisher Weekly

ASSOCIATION

Serving Press and State Since 1873

Vol. 14 | No. 12 | Thursday, March 21, 2019

As Paxton Media’s Mosesso retires, commitment to newspapers remains strong

David Mosesso has been a newspaper man for more than 35 years now and he plans to stay that way, even in his retirement.

chain purchased the Daily Citizen in his hometown. Paxton promoted him to publisher of the Paragould Daily Press, then the Daily Citizen and The Courier

Mosesso, the group president of Paxton Media’s ArkansasLouisiana-Mississippi group, will retire from work next month. But Mosesso, of Jonesboro, said he would never retire from his belief that newspapers are one of the best ways to reach advertisers and serve the public. “Print is still alive and well, and newspapers get results,” Mosesso said. “We have an audience that has disposable income, and those are coveted readers. The role of the newspaper in the community hasn’t changed.”

board member for the Arkansas Press Association.

His three-plus decade career has seen “the best of times” and some of the worst, he said, citing the changing digital landscape and events like the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and the 2008 financial crisis. While some in the industry made personnel changes to survive, Mosesso said he was fortunate to stave off wage cuts or furloughs at his newspapers.

“We’ve adapted and survived,” he said. “Obviously, the bigger picture is, ‘Where are newspapers going forward, and that remains Photo credit - Quentin Winstine to be seen … but we’ll be Mosesso began his publishing David Mosesso around for a long time. We’re career in 1983 at Arkansas in Russellville before he was named going to continue to adapt, and what that Media Inc. in Searcy. He went on to publisher of the Jonesboro Sun in 2000. means will be up to the next generation.” join Paxton Media after the newspaper Mosesso also previously served as a Continued on Page 2

APA now accepting editorial contest entries Entries are now being accepted for the 2019 Arkansas Press Association Better Newspaper Editorial Awards contest. Entries are due by April 19.

Winners will be announced at an awards luncheon annual Arkansas Press Association convention at the Hotel Hot Springs in Hot Springs on June 29.

The contest is open to employees of Arkansas Press Association member newspapers, and entries must have been published during the 2018 calendar year. To enter, visit https://bit.ly/2Hy0wUj

Entries will be accepted in five divisions: Daily circulation under 10,000; daily circulation over 10,000; nondaily circulation 1,300 or less; nondaily circulation 1,300 to 2,600 and nondaily

circulation over 2,600. There are multiple categories for news stories, including sports humor and general interest; photography; layout and design and community coverage. Visit the website for a complete set of rules, or for more information, contact Terri Cobb at terri@arkansaspress.org or (501) 374-1500.


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Guy Unangst

Paxton Media’s Mosesso retires Continued from Page 1

As Paxton’s group president, Mosesso oversees seven daily newspapers, including five in Arkansas: the Jonesboro Sun, Paragould Daily Press, The Courier in Russellville, Searcy Daily Citizen and Batesville Daily Guard. Though he’s retiring from day-to-day operations, he will continue to write a weekly outdoors/ hunting column and said he’ll be around if needed to help Paxton or his papers. He noted that Paxton may acquire more newspapers in 2019, and he said he’d be available to assist with due diligence or other matters in the acquisition process.

Guy Unangst, former special projects editor for the Arkansas DemocratGazette, died March 8 in Jacksonville, Fla., following a sudden illness. He was 75. Unangst was a Pennsylvania native, and he earned a journalism degree from Washington and Lee University in 1965. He was a radio operator in the Army Air National Guard. He was a sports reporter in Norfolk, Virginia, before moving into editor positions. At the Philadelphia Inquirer, he was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team. He was an editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before he moved to Little Rock. At the Democrat-Gazette, he served as special projects editor, Sunday editor and Washington editor. He retired in 2009, moving to Florida to live nearby his longtime friend and reporting protégé, Andrea Harter, who had been a reporter for the Democrat-Gazette. Unangst was an “adopted” member of Harter’s family. Naugle Funeral Home in Jacksonville, Florida, is in charge of arrangements. Unangst was an avid bridge player, and a memorial service will be held April 6 in Florida at the Jacksonville School of Bridge.

Industry Quote of the Week “He who is without a newspaper is cut off from his species.” -PT Barnum

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

“I’ve offered the fact that I’m not going anywhere, I’m staying in Jonesboro, and I’m still young,” said Mosesso, who is 58. “If they need me to do something, I’m a phone call away. I’ll be available to help out where I can, in Arkansas or elsewhere on a temporary basis.” His advice to his successor? Remember that newspapers are the heartbeat of a community, and a publisher should be as active within the local community as possible. Also, “revenues solve all woes,” he said. The seasoned publisher who told a Jonesboro Sun reporter last week he was “scared to death” when he took over at that newspaper 18 years ago came into his own in Jonesboro, according to colleagues

and members of the community. A fellow member of the Jonesboro Rotary Club, Dr. Bob Warner, said in the Jonesboro Sun that Mosesso has been a community leader. “I don’t have anything but praise for him,” Warner is quoted as saying. “I think he’s done a lot for the community over time. All the things that make Jonesboro Jonesboro, he’s been a part of it.” Ashley Wimberley, the executive director of the Arkansas Press Association, said of Mosesso: “David Mosesso is the kind of detail-oriented, hands-on publisher that newspapers really need. During a challenging time for our industry, David has focused on revenue growth and expansion of Paxton Media’s footprint in Arkansas, all the while providing quality leadership to his teams and to readers of his newspapers.” Mosesso said it had been his goal to retire early. He and his wife, Terricia, will remain in Jonesboro. “Publishing a daily newspaper is truly a miraculous event that we manage to do every day, and I will miss the people and the process dearly,” he told the Jonesboro Sun. Keith Inman of the Jonesboro Sun contributed to this article.

James Bright announced as general manager at Texarkana-Gazette WEHCO Media Inc., the parent company of the Texarkana Gazette, has announced James Bright as that newspaper’s new general manager. Bright’s newspaper experience includes stints as managing editor, general manager, advertising director and publisher. He served as regional publisher of newspapers in Duncan, Oklahoma, and Chickasha, Oklahoma. He has also worked in marketing for HealthCare Express. 2

“I was a newspaper man from the minute I was born,” Bright said in an article published by the Texarkana Gazette. The newspaper said Bright plans to be involved in the Texarkana community, and he wants his staff to be engaged in the community as well. He will encourage employees to join local civic organizations, according to the newspaper’s report. Bright is a graduate of Texas A&MCommerce, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was editor of his college paper, the East Texan, for two years. March 21, 2019


Guest Column: Newspapers need to explain how we work By Al Cross

Newspapers cover almost every imaginable topic, but when it comes to understanding and explaining their own roles in society, many community newspapers fall short. They keep doing business and journalism pretty much like they always did, with digital media as a sideline because they can’t make much money at it. Their presence on social media is often desultory and uninspired, even though social media have become the dominant form of mass communication. These newspapers are disengaging from their audiences – or perhaps we should say their former audiences and their potential audiences – at a time when they need to be more engaged than ever. There’s a war on journalism in America, and it’s not just being waged in Washington, D.C. Today’s media maelstrom has left much of the audience uncertain about what a newspaper is, or what it is supposed to be. Newspapers need to explain that clearly and consistently, through all available forms of media (more on those later). At a time when Americans are more dubious than ever about sources of information, newspapers remain the primary finders of fact. But for some reason they have been bashful about making that their brand, or even thinking of themselves as having a brand. What is our brand? At last month’s Ohio News Media Association convention, I said it can be built around three Rs: reliable, relevant information, delivered responsibly. The third R most needs explanation. When I was first learning journalism and the news business, one newspaper I read regularly ran a standing box on its editorial page. “Daily News Platform” told readers what the paper stood for. It’s been a long time since I saw such a device, but it’s time to bring it back, in a different way. If I were running a newspaper today, its home page would have a button labeled “How We Work.” It would take readers to a page explaining the paper’s purpose and the ways it tries to achieve it. Shorter versions of it would run in print every day, usually on the editorial page. “How We Work” would start by explaining Arkansas Publisher Weekly

the different forms of information media, to help readers understand the different and special roles that newspapers play in our society, and the challenges they face. Here’s the version I offered in Ohio: This is a newspaper. It reports facts. To do that, we verify information, or we attribute it to someone else. That is called the discipline of verification, and it is the essence of a craft called journalism, which you find in news media. There are two other types of media: social media, which have no discipline, much less verification; and strategic media, which try to sell you something: goods, services, ideas, politicians, causes, beliefs, etc. Newspapers once relied on one form of strategic media, advertising, for most of their income. Today, social media get more of the ad money, so newspapers must get more income from the only other reliable place they can get it: their readers, in the form of subscriptions or single-copy sales. As you might guess, we prefer subscribers, so we hope to earn your respect and loyalty. How do we do that? By being honest and straightforward about our business. That means we must separate fact from opinion, reserving our own views for the editorial page. Of course, our views have some influence over what news we choose to cover, so if you think we’re not covering what should be covered, or have failed to separate fact from opinion, or make another mistake, we want you to tell us. You can do that privately, or publicly, in the form of a letter to the editor. If you raise an important issue that we think needs wider perspective, we may invite you to join us in a discussion on social media, and perhaps bring that discussion into the newspaper itself. We want to hear from you. We are in the business of holding others accountable, so we must be accountable to you. Accountability journalism is necessary 3

if our democratic republic is to function the way the Founding Fathers intended. That’s why they put the First Amendment in the Constitution. It gives us great freedom, but with that freedom comes a great responsibility. If you think we are not living up to that legacy, please tell us.

That’s fewer than 350 words, about the length of a little-longer-than-usual letter to the editor in most papers. We need more letters from the editor, not just statements of general principle, but explanations of how and why we do certain things. If we demand transparency from officials and institutions, we must practice it ourselves. And build our brand at the same time. One good example came from Brian Hunt, publisher of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, in a column he wrote in May 2017, titled “Community Journalism in the era of fake news.” We excerpted it on The Rural Blog; you can read it at https://bit.ly/2sQtB5k. Hunt’s best passage gave examples of the extreme without being judgmental: “I’ve been challenged on why we include people of color in our newspaper. I’ve heard from readers who question why, when two-thirds of our region voted for Donald Trump, the U-B would ever publish anything remotely critical of his presidency. I learn things in these conversations. Most notably, the people I speak with are not unaccomplished, not unintelligent, not uncaring. We know these people. You know these people. Fake news and the isolated intolerance that can feed it gets to us all.” After the column ran, Hunt said the paper got fewer calls, and fewer subscription stops, complaining about bias in the paper. Good journalism is good business, especially when you explain it. Al Cross edited and managed rural newspapers before covering politics for the Louisville Courier Journal and serving as president of the Society of Professional Journalists. He is a journalism professor at the University of Kentucky and director of its Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which publishes The Rural Blog at http://irjci.blogspot.com. March 21, 2019


92nd Arkansas General Assembly

Legislative Report

APA is monitoring the following filed bills of interest to our industry and the public: Bill No. / Author

Short Description

APA Position

Current Status

HB 1003 Rep. Gazaway

An act to add antibullying measures at schools, to allow school boards to meet in executive sessions for bullying investigations

Opposes

Awaits initial hearing in House Education Committee

HB 1015 Rep. Mayberry

Requires journalism to be offered as an elective course in public high school

Supports

Failed in House Education Committee

HB 1041 Reps. Ladyman, Eads

Raises the threshold for municipalities to competitively bid projects from $20,000 to $50,000, thus abolishing public notice requirements for municipal expenses between $20,000 and $50,000

Opposes

Passed the House; did not receive recommendation from Senate City, County and Local Affairs Committee

HB 1343 Rep. Hawks, Rep. Mark Johnson

Requires a county’s annual financial report to be published on the county website as well as in the newspaper

Neutral

Passed House and Senate

HB 1382 Rep. Sorvillo

Exempts lottery winners’ identities from the Freedom of Information Act

Opposes

Failed House, but vote was exponged; awaits rehearing in House Rules Committee

HB 1404 Rep. Speaks

Allows for publication of a school district’s budget in a newspaper published in or with a bona fide circulation in the county or counties where the school district is located

Neutral

Passed House; awaits hearing in Senate Education Committee

HB 1417 Rep. Gray

Establishes a Freedom of Information Act exemption for the identities of confidential informants

Opposes

Awaits initial hearing in House State Agencies Committee

HB 1432 Rep. Mayberry

Protects rights of high school student journalists and adds protections for student media advisors

Supports

Passed in House Education Committee; Advances to Senate

HB 1440 Rep. Ferguson

Establishes the Maternal Mortality Review Committee and exempts the committee from the Freedom of Information Act

Opposes

Passed House, Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee; awaits inital hearing in Senate

HB 1441 Rep. Bentley

Establishes the Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes Quality Review Committee and exempts the committee from the Freedom of Information Act

Opposes

Passed House, Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee; awaits inital hearing in Senate

HB 1499 Rep. Maddox

Changes public notice requirements for statutory foreclosures

Neutral

Passed House; awaits hearing in Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee

HB 1500 Rep. Gazaway

Exempts cybersecurity threat assessments from disclosure under FOIA

Neutral

Passed House; awaits hearing in Senate State Agencies Committee

HB 1551 Rep. Eubanks

Prohibits schools under the Freedom of Information Act from disclosing records of the arrest or detention of a student

Opposes

Passed House

HB 1556 Rep. House

Establishes a FOIA exemption for active, ongoing Arkansas Beverage Control Board investigations

Neutral

Passed House and Senate City, County and Local Affairs committee; advances to Senate

HB 1557 Rep. House

Establishes a FOIA exemptions for security plans and assessments of medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation facilities and labs

Opposes

Awaits initial hearing in House Rules Committee

HB 1559 Rep. Jean

Creates a FOIA exemption for division orders or declarations of interest submitted to county assessors regarding mineral rights

Pending

Signed by governor as Act 538

HB 1630 Rep. Lundstrum

Gives active and retired law enforcement officeers the ability to keep personal contact information and tax records secret under FOIA

Opposes

Awaits initial hearing in House State Agencies Committee

HB 1702 Rep. Speakes

Permits a school district to publish notice of bond sales in a newspaper published in or with a bona fide circulation in the county or counties where the school district is located

Neutral

Passed House; awaits initial hearing in Senate Education Committee

HB 1766 Rep. Collins

Increases the threshold amount for municipal sewer commission requirements for bidding from $20,000 to $35000 (companion bill SB516 in Senate is sponsored by Sen. Bond)

Opposes

Awaits initial hearing in House City, County and Local Affairs Committee

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

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March 21, 2019


92nd Arkansas General Assembly

Legislative Report

APA is monitoring the following filed bills of interest to our industry and the public: Bill No. / Author

Short Description

APA Position

Current Status

SB 3 Sen. Garner

Requires reporting from physicians and healthcare facilities requiring detailed information about abortion procedure complications and exempts the required report from the Freedom of Information Act.

Opposes

Passed Senate; awaits hearing in House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee

SB 230 Sen. Hammer

Creates a new civil action for invasion of privacy and allows a lawsuit against someone for intruding into private affairs or publicizing an individual in a false light

Opposes

Failed to advance in Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 231 Sen. Hammer

Expands the definition of “public records” in the Freedom of Information Act to include records of a private entity that spends a minimum of 20% of its time, resources and efforts supporting a government function

Opposes

Failed to advance in Senate State Agencies Committee

SB 233 Sen. Hammer, Rep. Lowery

Amends notice requirements for school elections

Neutral

Signed by governor as Act 473

SB 277 Sen. Hill, Rep. Cameron Cooper

Removes public notice requirement for internet sale of certain surplus county property

Opposes

Passed Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee

SB 306 Sen. Teague

Allows the winner of a Powerball or Mega Millions drawing to make his or her records with the Arkansas Lottery Commission confidential under the Freedom of Information Act

Opposes

Awaits initial hearing in Senate State Agencies Committee

SB 409 Sen. Flippo

Allows public entities to publish notice to receive bids on a website rather than in a newspaper

Opposes

Failed in Senate State Agencies Committee

SB 411 Sen. Stubblefield

Exempts from disclosure any investigations or reports related to whether a municipality is a sanctuary city; prohibits sancutary city policies

Opposes

Awaits initial hearing in Senate City County and Local Affairs Committee

SB441 Sen. Bledsoe

Prohibits all advertising related to medical marijuana

Neutral

Passed Senate; advances to House Rules Committee

SB 464 Sen. Hester

Exempts from disclosure under FOIA almost all information regarding letahl injection procedures; makes “reckless” release of information a Class D felony

Opposes

Passed Senate; awaits hearing in House Judiciary Committee

SB 521 Sen. Hammer

Expands the definition of public records in the Freedom of Information Act; protects identity of donors to private foundations

Opposes

Awaits initial hearing in Senate State Agencies Committee

SB 550 Sen. Stubblefield

Changes notice requirements for liquid livestock waste permits

Opposes

Passed Senate; awaits initial hearing in House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development

SB 560 Sen. Blake Johnson

Creates a Tax Appeals Commission but allows the commission to meet in closed session in some circumstances

Pending

Passed Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee; advances to full Senate

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

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March 21, 2019

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: March 21, 2019  

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

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: March 21, 2019  

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