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Reminder: APA convention survey sent to attendees

Guest Column:

The glue that holds the community together By Peter Wagner


A rk a nsa s


Publisher Weekly


Serving Press and State Since 1873

Vol. 14 | No. 31 | Thursday, August 1, 2019

Jonesboro Sun’s do-it-all repairman to retire There’s a tried-and-true adage at The Jonesboro Sun that’s been a comfort to the mechanically and technologically disinclined for three decades now: If it’s broken, Roger Brumley can fix it. The Sun’s production manager and resident MacGyver has repaired the printing press, ad insertion equipment and countless computers over the course of his 30-plus years at the newspaper. Among current and former colleagues, Brumley’s skills are the stuff of legend. As former staff photographer Bill Templeton recalls, Brumley miraculously repaired the Associated Press photo server one night on deadline in a way an AP technician described as “impossible” when he came to make a permanent fix

the next day.

“The ad server was still working, so Roger opens them both up, pulls both motherboards, compares them for about 30 seconds, takes a knife or screwdriver, pops off a chip in the ad server board and shoves it into the AP photo server,” Templeton said. “It worked like a charm.” “I swear the man could build a space shuttle from stuff laying around the house,” he added. Brumley’s time as The Sun’s do-all repairman comes to an end this week with his retirement. His presence will be hard to replicate because, as even he will tell you, there’s not much he can really pass on to someone else. Continued on Page 2

Roger Brumley

APA, FOIA advocates score victory for transparency The Arkansas Press Association and advocates for transparency across the state joined forces last week to call on the Little Rock Civil Service Commission to reverse its ban on all audio and video recording of its hearings.

The commission had instituted the ban just a few days before the start of a contentious hearing where a Little Rock police officer appealed his firing after he killed a man during a traffic stop. Prosecutors did not file charges in the death. Commissioners who initially approved the ban argued that recordings of the hearing could be taken out of context, that recordings could impact witness testimony or that the identity of undercover officers could be revealed. However, the APA, the

Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and other media organizations countered that the recording ban was likely a violation of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. One media organization, KATV in Little Rock, had indicated it planned to file a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court if the ban was not overturned.

Just before meeting with the APA, its legal counsel and KATV managers last Thursday, City Attorney Tom Carpenter announced that he’d been in contact with Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and that city officials would recommend the commission suspend its ban on recording. It did so, at Carpenter’s request, about six hours into the hearing.

“To the APA and to countless supporters of transparency, it was obvious that the Freedom of Information Act applied to the commission and this outright ban on recording was improper and illegal,” said Ashley Wimberley, APA executive director. “After public pressure and the threat of a lawsuit, the city did the right thing. This demonstrates that our association and members of the media work best when we work together for the common purpose of ensuring the public access to their government. “We are grateful that Mayor Scott, the city attorney and others heard our concerns on this issue. We want to make sure, too, moving forward that this type of action doesn’t happen again.”

Jonesboro Sun’s do-it-all repairman to retire

Continued from Page 1

“The Lord has gifted me with talents and abilities and that’s all I can say,” Brumley said. “I do a little bit of everything, and that ranges from fixing faucets in the men’s bathroom to total web design. That’s all I can tell you. The (ability) just comes, and it’s there, and I try to use it.” Brumley said there have been multiple occasions where an insertion machine broke down and he was called to repair it as a last resort. Once he got it back working, there would be applause from mail room workers because “Roger got it going.” There’s only been one occasion in his tenure when they’ve needed to print the newspaper at another location because of a press breakdown. Brumley said the only reason he couldn’t fix the problem that night was “because I didn’t have anything to fix it with.”

through personal tragedy as well. The Clover Bend High School valedictorian never attended college because he was needed at home to take care of an ailing mother. He’s retiring now in part to help provide caregiver assistance along with his wife, Lana, to his son, Shannon. Shannon Brumley, who at one time worked with his father at The Sun, had a motorcycle accident 18 years ago that left him paralyzed from the neck down. “Thirty years at this job is plenty, to start with, but I’m going to need to be home,” Brumley said.

He noted that in his 30 years of employment he has worked on and learned multiple computer systems. The word processing system the newspaper used during his first several years on the job had a total storage capacity of 20 megabytes. He moved on to oversee all production and systems that included multiple servers for newspapers within the Paxton Media Group. “I was here when everything started changing, and I just picked up on it,” he said. “I’ve just tried to make people’s work easier for them.”

Brumley, who is also the pastor of a church in his hometown of Clover Bend, said he has relied on his faith during those frenetic and stressful times when colleagues have been on deadline and they needed immediate solutions. He said that’s part of the reason why he’s been so effective at his job over the years. “I’m not above the stress or the pressure or anything, because I get hit with it quite a bit, but (God) puts the peace there,” Brumley said. “I resort to him and what he has taught me in order to deal with it.” Brumley has leaned on his Christianity

Roger Brumley with his family.

Finch named publisher at Dumas Clarion Tracey Finch, who had been interim publisher of the Dumas Clarion since earlier this year, was named publisher of that newspaper in July. Finch took over after former Clarion publisher Terry Hawkins passed away. She’s been at the newspaper since October of last year when she was hired as advertising manager. Before she began her second career in newspapers, Finch was a teacher. The Forrest City native taught language arts in elementary school for 20 years. For eight years following that, she was the EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) Arkansas Publisher Weekly

facilitator at Dumas High School. She was the school’s yearbook advisor as well. “This is not what I had planned for my life after retirement, and I know I have some pretty big shoes to fill, but I will do my best to carry on where Terry Hawkins left off,” Finch said. “And with the help of my staff, we will do what is best for The Dumas Clarion and our community.” Finch has lived in Dumas for the past four decades. She has two daughters and three grandsons. She attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and Arkansas State University, Tracey Finch where she obtained a degree in education. 2

August 1, 2019

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Reminder: APA convention survey sent to attendees Attendees at this year’s annual Arkansas Press Association Convention who have yet to complete a survey about their experience this year are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. The short survey was emailed last week to APA members and guests who attended the convention in Hot Springs this past June. For attendees who received an email, please click on the link to take the 13-question survey. It shouldn’t take more than two or three minutes to complete. The information gleaned from the survey will be invaluable in helping the APA board and staff plan future conventions and events. Convention attendees who did not receive an email with the survey link should contact the APA office at (501) 374-1500.

Industry Quote of the Week “A free press is not only a right, and not only a privilege, but an organic necessity in a great society.”

Copyright lawsuits on the rise As litigators become more aggressive in their search online and in print for copyright infringement cases, the Arkansas Press Association is encouraging its members to be more vigilant in the way it accesses and uses photographs. APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley said APA newspapers should consider drafting licensing agreements with individuals or entities that submit photographs or recordings to a newspaper. Those agreements should specify that the entity submitting the photograph has full rights to it, and that the newspaper has permission to republish the photograph. Otherwise, newspapers could find themselves in legal jeopardy. “More and more newspapers across the country, and even in Arkansas, are faced with copyright lawsuits, accused of using photos without the consent of the photographer,” Wimberley said. “In some cases, the newspaper may have

permission from whoever submitted the photo, but that individual might not have ownership rights. To avoid a costly lawsuit, it’s best to have a licensing agreement for any copyrighted work.” The problem is nationwide. Recently, Fox News was sued by a photographer, accused of publishing on its website a photograph of Rep. Alexandria OcasioCortez without permission. Just last month in federal court in New York, a judge referred to one attorney as a “copyright troll” because of the vast number of lawsuits the attorney has filed on behalf of copyright holders, according to a Reuters article. The article noted that particular attorney had filed 1,210 copyright suits in federal court in New York since August 2015. Wimberley said APA members should consult an attorney about how to draft a licensing agreement.

2019 APA Media Directory now available for purchase

The 2019 edition of the Arkansas Media Directory is now available to order on the Arkansas Press Association’s website, www.ArkansasPress.org. The annual book, published in the summer of each calendar year, contains the most complete and up-to-date listing of all newspapers and media organizations in the state. The Arkansas Media Directory also includes contact numbers and information about educational organizations, state and federal government officials, Arkansas Press Association associate members and college newspapers. The media directory is $40. Order at https://www.arkansaspress.org/store/ViewProduct. aspx?id=4894941 or by calling the APA at (501) 374-1500.

-Walter Lippmann

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August 1, 2019

Guest Column:

The glue that holds the community together By Peter Wagner

Little Johnny Jones hit a home-run at his pee-wee baseball game last Friday, but most of the town won’t know about it until they see the story and photo when the town’s newspaper comes out next Wednesday. The school board, meanwhile, hired a new high school principal at their Thursday night monthly meeting, but most of the community won’t learn the details until they open Wednesday’s weekly paper. And, the local department store, celebrating they’ve been in business 50 years, is planning a giant sale. But shoppers won’t know about it until the paper arrives in the mail on Wednesday. Twenty years ago, communities depended on their hometown paper for all the local news. If it was in the paper, they knew it was relevant, correct and what would be the topics of discussion at the local coffee shop and afternoon bridge game. Plus, it was delivered in a well edited, easy-to-hold package designed to make reading it exciting and easy for the reader. Randy Evans, the longtime state editor at the Des Moines Register says many local newspapers still play that role today and will for many years to come. Evans, the current Executive Director of Iowa’s Freedom of Information Council, visited our Sheldon office Wednesday. He’d driven up from Des Moines to update our editors and reporters on the laws and procedures needed to obtain hidden or withheld public records. After the meeting Evans stopped by my office to discuss the current state of the

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

newspaper business. He is an old friend of the family and he and our son Jay worked together at the Register before Jay’s premature death from cancer. Together we mourned the loss of Jay and the large metro newspaper he loved and respected. The Register, Evans thought, had less that a fourth of the 300,000 daily subscribers it served back when he and Jay worked there. And the reason for the loss in readership? Evans says it is the lack of original, local content. He praised Iowa Information for the size and commitment of our N’West Iowa Review news team. “The problem with many individually produced online news sites,” he said, “is they lack credibility. Anyone can create a story, he said, and many can read it for free when it is on the internet. But who can be sure it isn’t ‘fake news.’” Local newspapers give life and breath to a community. Their reporting of events, especially those at the local schools - from grade schools to a local college - is often the glue that holds a community together, Corporate chains often attempt to apply the same “one template” approach to every paper in every market. But what works in one large city usually doesn’t fit the needs and ideals of another metro community. Plus, large operations often shift editors and publishers from location to location without much consideration for the value they add with their extended knowledge of the history, political make-up and expectations of each different market.


Home-owned and managed community papers are usually personally overseen by the very people who serve as the publishers and editors. Those vested interest managers stay in tune with their readers and advertisers and the very heart of the community, “The best existing newspapers,” says Evans, “strive to provide advertisers with the results they need and expect and their readers with a smorgasbord of local information to attract, hold and satisfy their interests.” Circulation figures are often misconstrued. Listed simply as homes delivered to, they don’t take into consideration the number of readers in each home. Also, copies often serve two or more households as they are passed from mother to daughter or a brother to the home of his sister. Evans and I don’t believe the printed newspaper will ever completely disappear from public importance. It may change to provide even more unique local content, rise to even more creative design and in the way it is paid for. But there will always be a need for those scrapbook and refrigerator pictures of Johnny Jones hitting his home run and of photos and stories of other hometown heroes like him. Peter W. Wagner is founder and publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 13 additional publications. Wagner can be contacted by emailing pww@iowainformation.com or calling his cell at (712) 348-3550.

August 1, 2019

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: August 1, 2019  

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

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: August 1, 2019  

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