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2019 Media Directory available for purchase

Guest Column:

A journalist’s job is to report and offer balance, not to persuade By Tim Gallagher


Ar k ansas


Publisher Weekly


Vol. 14 | No. 30 | Thursday, July 24, 2019

Serving Press and State Since 1873

Rusty Fraser bucks ‘bureaucracy,’ finds success As if his circulation numbers weren’t evidence enough, Stone County Leader Publisher Rusty Fraser has an ace-inthe-hole story when someone asks about his classified advertising strategy.

Fraser, who offers free classified ads for any subscriber, tells about how he would deliver his weekly newspapers to racks in Calico Rock – in Izard County, about 25 miles away from Mountain View – on Monday nights around 10 p.m. Stone County residents didn’t get their newspapers until the next morning around 8. So then, how was it that one specific Mountain View man was calling sellers around sun-up? He had driven the 50mile roundtrip to get the Stone County Leader’s classified ads. “He was driving all the way to Calico Rock to get the first pop,” said Fraser, who would put the newspapers in the racks in the neighboring town while on the way back from having the Leader printed in Mountain Home.

Rusty Fraser with wife Neal outside the newspaper office, in 1990.

“With shows on like ‘American Pickers,’ everybody is looking for a deal,” Fraser said. “The popularity of classifieds is as

strong as it’s ever been.” Fraser said his newspaper’s circulation is about 4,000 and has remained consistent over the last few years. The city of Mountain View has about 2,700 residents. He said he’s picked up subscriptions from several nonsubscribers who come in the office to buy a classified ad and realize they can place one for free with a subscription. “Instead of selling classified ads, you’re selling subscriptions, which is frankly more important,” he said. “The main thing many chain newspapers don’t understand is that they see classifieds as a revenue source, and classified ad revenue has been declining for decades. What’s more valuable than the revenue is the readership you get from classifieds.” Fraser has found himself by frustrated corporate leadership of newspapers over Continued on Page 2

Slinkard named managing editor in El Dorado The El Dorado News-Times announced the hiring of Caleb Slinkard as its managing editor.

Caleb Slinkard

Slinkard, a native of northeast Texas, most recently was executive editor of The Norman Transcript in Norman, Oklahoma.

While in school at Texas A&M UniversityCommerce, Slinkard worked at the school’s newspaper and hosted a news radio show. He worked as a page designer at the Greenville Herald-Banner in Greenville, Texas, before being named editor-in-chief of that newspaper. “Journalism kind of lends itself to a natural curiosity,” Slinkard said in the NewsTimes’s announcement of his hiring. “I think we have an opportunity to give people who don’t have a voice a voice; we have the opportunity to tell really important stories; and, particularly in

community journalism, I feel that having a vibrant newspaper is really key to having a vibrant community, so if I can play a role in doing that, that’s also a very rewarding experience, very meaningful.” While in Norman, Slinkard’s newspaper was awarded the Oklahoma Press Association’s Sequoyah Award for three consecutive years. That award, according to the News-Times account, is given to the top newspapers in the state. Slinkard said he plans on meeting community members in the newspaper’s coverage area over the next few months.

Rusty Fraser bucks ‘bureaucracy,’ finds success

Continued from Page 1

professional development seminars for newspapers.

more than just classifieds before he set out to buy his own newspaper. He had “gotten a little bit tired of the bureaucracy” when he purchased the Stone County Leader in 1985. Before becoming his own boss, he was publisher of the daily Mineral Wells Index in Mineral Wells, Texas, for two years. Before that, he worked seven years as publisher of the Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home.

“I think we’re probably in the mode of reviewing everything we are doing right now, seeing if we can improve on it in some way or another, and making sure everybody is happy with it,” Fraser said. He emphasized that he personally thought internships were important, and two of his long-time staffers parlayed their experience as interns at the Leader into full-time jobs. Lori Freeze, the newspaper’s editor and a current APA board member, spent two summers at the Leader while she attended Arkansas State University. Edie Sutterfield, a Mountain View native, worked for Fraser one summer while she was still in school. When he learned a few years later she was returning to Mountain View and asked about a role at the Leader, he hired her on the spot.

The Alabama native and University of Alabama graduate got his start at his hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser. As a “dispatch kid” at the Montgomery newspaper, he served as a courier between the advertising department and composing room and took on “catch-all” jobs like lugging hot metal proofs to downtown merchants. He went on to become a classified ad salesman for the Advertiser before moving to Mountain Home. In Arkansas, he’s taken on additional industry leadership roles as a board member and former president of the Arkansas Press Association (APA). He recently was named president of the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation (ANF) board of directors. “Somebody asked, ‘Have you been in the newspaper business all your life?’ and my answer was ‘Not yet,’” he said. “I think the newspaper industry is a vital part of our society and it’s in danger of becoming extinct,” Fraser said, adding that’s one reason why he thinks the mission of the APA and the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation is so important. The nonprofit Foundation’s purpose is to help fund opportunities that benefit APA and Arkansas newspapers, Fraser said.

Those include the summer internship program in which ANF partners with APA member newspapers to provide essential on-the-job training for young journalists, as well as the annual scholarships provided by ANF to APA members to attend the annual ArkLaMiss Marketing and Circulation Conference, which will next be held this November in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Fraser is meeting informally with others on the ANF board next week to discuss how best the Foundation can serve the industry moving forward, he said. For instance, some board members have advocated sponsoring various

“I think those apprenticeships are much more valuable than classroom training,” Fraser said. “There’s not a better way to learn what it’s like to work in the business, or how newspapers really work. There’s much more than you can find in a textbook.” Fraser added that he has the right staff to carry out his mission of providing “100 percent local news” content to readers. That commitment to local coverage is another reason why he thinks his newspaper is bucking national trends. “A couple weeks ago, I ran a feature on a little girl who was in the third grade who had grown a 10-pound cabbage. She was as proud as she could be,” Fraser said. “You’re not going to see that in the Associated Press.”

APA convention attendees asked to complete survey Arkansas Press Association members and others who attended the 2019 APA Convention in Hot Springs have been asked to complete a short survey about their experience at the annual meeting. A link to the survey was emailed to everyone who signed up for the convention. “We hope everyone who was at the convention will take a few minutes to provide us with their opinions on the speakers, panels and trade show and their overall thoughts about this year’s Arkansas Publisher Weekly

convention,” said Ashley Wimberley, executive director of the Arkansas Press Association. “This feedback will greatly help us as we plan for next year’s programming.” This year’s convention attendees should have already received an email with the survey link. The 13-question survey shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete. If you attended the convention and have not received an email, please call the APA office at (501) 374-1500. 2

July 24, 2019

—30— Wesley Pruden

Retired Hot Springs sports editor named to Arkansas Sportscasters/ Sportswriters Hall of Fame The Arkansas Sportscasters/Sportswriters Hall of Fame inducted Bob Wisener, sports editor of The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs, into its 2019 class at a recent ceremony in Conway. Also inducted was the late Terry Wallace, longtime track announcer at Oaklawn. According to an article in The Sentinel-Record, Wisener said his induction into the Hall of Fame fulfilled a dream.

Wesley Pruden, who started his journalism career in Arkansas and rose to prominence as a firebrand conservative columnist and editor of The Washington Times, died last week. He was 83. Pruden served as managing editor, assistant managing editor and chief political correspondent for the Times during his time at the newspaper that started four months after the Times’ founding in 1982. He retired as editor in 2008 but continued to write his column, “Pruden on Politics,” until the time of his death. He held the title of editor-in-chief emeritus. As a teenager, Pruden was a copy boy and sportswriter for the Arkansas Gazette. The Little Rock High School graduate was assistant state editor before moving to Memphis to work for the Commercial Appeal. He spent seven years in Memphis before starting at the National Observer as a foreign correspondent and political writer in 1960. He wrote dispatches from Saigon, Hong Kong, Beirut and London during his time reporting overseas.

Wisener was quoted as saying: “All I ever really wanted was to sit at the Algonquin Round Table of sports writers in this state — Orville Henry, Jim Bailey, Wadie Moore, the great David McCollum, Wally Hall, Harry King. I wanted to be in their presence. I wanted to be considered an equal of theirs. Some good things have happened to me over the years; I’ve won some awards. … This, tonight, is the fulfillment of that dream — that I belong at the same table, if you will.”

Bob Wisener

The newspaper’s article noted that Wisener said he hoped his was an inspiration to other people who entered the sportswriting business. David Longinotti, a former Hot Springs sportswriter who presented the award to Wisener, said he learned from Wisener how to “communicate sports in a way that is interesting … and in a way that is fair and honest,” according to the newspaper. The Arkansas Sportscasters/Sportswriters Hall of Fame also recognized former University of Arkansas men’s basketball coach Eddie Sutton with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Industry Quote of the Week “Freedom of the press is a precious privilege that no country can forego”

Let’s Get Social Follow us on Facebook & Twitter

-Mahatma Gandhi @ArkansasPressAssociation


According to an Arkansas DemocratGazette obituary, Pruden always thought of Arkansas fondly, according to Griffin Smith, a longtime friend of Pruden’s and former executive editor of the DemocratGazette. Smith was quoted as saying: “He was happily in charge of everything. He was a veteran conservative, and his columns stand the test of time. He was just an allaround fun guy and a true newspaperman.” Among Pruden’s survivors is a sister, Joan Pruden Guthridge, of Little Rock. Arkansas Publisher Weekly


July 24, 2019

APA continues program to recognize member advertising placement performance Just past the halfway point of 2019, 72 Arkansas newspapers remain in the Arkansas Press Association’s Perfect Performance Club. Newspapers are recognized for perfect performance when their advertising through Arkansas Press Services runs errorfree and on-time. These correct and timely ads are especially important as businesses look for the best ways to maximize their Alma Journal The Standard, Amity Little River News, Ashdown Beebe News Carroll County News Midweek Edition, Berryville Carroll County News Weekend Edition, Berryville NEA Town Courier, Blytheville Booneville Democrat Monroe County Herald, Brinkley White River Current, Calico Rock Charleston Express Johnson County Graphic, Clarksville Clay County Courier, Corning Yell County Record, Danville De Queen Bee DeWitt Era-Enterprise Dumas Clarion England Democrat Eudora Enterprise Lovely County Citizen, Eureka Springs Washington County Enterprise Leader, Farmington Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Fayetteville The Mountaineer Echo, Flippin Fordyce News-Advocate

ad dollars. Members of the APA Perfect Performance Club who run ads on schedule and without errors throughout the year are eligible for a pizza party at the end of the year. Here’s a list of the Arkansas newspapers currently demonstrating perfect performance through 2019:

Times-Herald, Forrest City Times Record, Fort Smith Glenwood Herald Ashley County Ledger, Hamburg South Arkansas Sun, Hampton Harrison Daily Times Pacesetting Times, Horseshoe Bend The Sentinel-Record, Hot Springs Hot Springs Village Voice Madison County Record, Huntsville The Leader, Jacksonville Newton County Times, Jasper The Jonesboro Sun Chicot County Spectator, Lake Village Arkansas Business Arkansas Democrat-Gazette The Daily Record Magnolia Banner Malvern Daily Record The Citizen, Mansfield Courier-Index, Marianna Woodruff County Monitor-LeaderAdvocate, McCrory McGehee Times Advance-Monticellonian, Monticello Conway County Petit Jean Country Headlight, Morrilton

Montgomery County News, Mount Ida Stone County Leader, Mountain View Murfreesboro Diamond Nashville News-Leader The Osceola Times Ozark Spectator Paragould Daily Press Pea Ridge Times Perry County Petit Jean Country Headlight, Perryville Clay County Times-Democrat, Piggott Cleveland County Herald, Rison The Courier, Russellville The News/Areawide Media, Salem The Daily Citizen, Searcy Siloam Springs Herald-Leader Lincoln American, Star City Lincoln Ledger, Star City Texarkana Gazette Press Argus-Courier, Van Buren Waldron News The Times Dispatch, Walnut Ridge Eagle Democrat, Warren Wynne Progress

2019 APA Media Directory available for purchase The newest edition of the Arkansas Media Directory is now available. The annual publication, published in the middle of each calendar year, is the most complete listing of contact information and details about every media organization in Arkansas. The book contains information on newspapers, newspaper-related companies, broadcasters, media organizations, newspaper bureaus and magazines. The Arkansas Media Directory includes listings for educational organizations, state and federal government officials, Arkansas Press Association associate members and college newspapers. The media directory is $40. Order at https:// w w w. a r k a n s a s p r e s s . o r g / s t o r e / V i e w P r o d u c t . aspx?id=4894941 or by calling the APA at (501) 3741500. Arkansas Publisher Weekly


July 24, 2019

Guest Column:

A journalist’s job is to report and offer balance, not to persuade By Tim Gallagher The first line in the sand I ever drew with a publisher occurred when he said he was hearing from his colleagues that our news pages and editorials were too liberal. We were about to conduct a 1,000-person marketing survey and I wanted to ask the “Is the newspaper liberal or conservative?” question and later ask if the respondent identified as liberal or conservative. As I had hoped and expected, there was a 1-to-1 correlation between the respondent’s identification and the view of the newspaper. All conservatives thought we were liberal, and all liberals thought we were conservative. Drop the mic. The publisher never brought it up again. Sadly, however, recent research is showing that there is nothing we can do to change the perceptions of our readers on many issues. They believe what they want to believe and no amount of research, reporting or “fact checking” can change their minds. The public “perceives reality in starkly different ways,” according to research by Professors David Barker and Morgan Marietta. They have been studying the divide since before the election of President Trump and have written a book called “One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy.” The news for journalists is not good. We are not part of the solution because, well, there isn’t much hope for a solution. The professors argue, “Without agreement on where we are, deciding collectively where we ought to go is practically impossible.” Fact-checking and trying to present a balanced view of both sides does not convince the public that journalists are

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

disinterested because of two reasons. The first one is “intuitive epistemology.” The public comes to an issue with a perception firmly in mind and listens only to evidence and reports that bolster that view, ignoring arguments to the contrary. The second reason is that the fact checkers themselves often have an inherent bias and fact checkers often disagree when they check the facts. Outright lies are easy to check, but when politicians are deliberately ambiguous, then fact checking is more ambiguous. (To add to the problem, less than a third of the public believe fact checkers are unbiased.) It would be easy to dismiss this, as I did years ago, as what naturally occurs when people of different political jerseys look at the other side. But Barker and Marietta’s research shows the nation is divided along moral issues. “It is the degree to which (the voter) prioritizes compassion as a public virtue, relative to other things like rugged individualism.” People see what they look for in the first place. “In other words, people do not end up with the same answers because they do not begin with the same questions,” wrote Barker and Marietta. To back this up, they note that the belief vaccines cause autism is shared equally among people who identify as Democrats or Republicans. The real driver is different core values, not partisan identity. So what is a newspaper to do? First, I would try to understand that the journalist’s job is not to sway public opinion,


but to report as many indisputable facts as possible. (“The Senate voted 53-47 to pass the bill.” “The deceased was shot by a person with a .45-caliber handgun.”) In the more challenging cases, I still believe there is virtue in trying to balance a story, trying to represent as many sides as possible, even acknowledging the nuances. I believe we could be more transparent in our reporting—offering the readers links to the research we have used. Finally, we can just acknowledge the divide and split our editorial pages with this in mind. USA Today and others have famously done this. Our web presence allows us an approach more radical. On controversial issues, we could simply split the difference and line up pieces with a “pro” version and a “con” version on the most divisive issues. Journalists cannot force readers to review “the other side” but they can offer it. We should continue to fact check (even if most readers won’t believe it), and we should continue to offer multiple viewpoints on issues (even if most readers won’t believe half of them.) The issue for journalists is not to change minds, but to offer the disinterested view of the issue. Tim Gallagher is president of The 20/20 Network, a public relations and strategic communications firm. He is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and publisher at The Albuquerque Tribune and the Ventura County Star newspapers. Reach him at tim@the2020network.com.

July 24, 2019

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: July 25, 2019  

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

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: July 25, 2019  

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