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REGISTER TODAY: FOIA Seminar just two weeks away Publishing trailblazers inducted into Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame

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Publisher Weekly

PRESS ASSOCIATION

Vol. 14 | No. 36 | Thursday, September 5, 2019

Serving Press and State Since 1873

Focus on details key to Brett’s successful career

APA Past President recalls years in newspaper industry Derwood Brett’s journalism mentor preached a philosophy that transcended day-to-day reporting techniques and essentially became the formula for success in Brett’s decades-long newspaper publishing career. The guidance to “always find in every story something of significant detail” worked well for Brett when, while at the Mena Star, he described how a devastating and catastrophic tornado could take down a house yet leave some delicate clothing items untouched. It worked just as well as Brett exhorted his staff to record every detail of city council meetings, weddings and other goings-on at his newspapers. Brett even took his attention to detail to the Arkansas Press Association, where he served as president in 1989. Brett said he took the time to visit every member newspaper during his presidency, and the association was made the better of it.

His recommendation for making newspapers more profitable now as some struggle to reinvent themselves in the digital age is simply to keep focusing on the details.

newspaper group, he said many chainowned newspapers have seen declines in profitability becauseContinued on Page 2

“Every community deserves a newspaper that covers everything, from Little League ball games to local city council, Quorum Court and school board meetings because that’s the root – that’s the way the communities keep up with what’s going on,” Brett said. “Your local newspaper covers the community.” Brett was APA president in 1989 when he was publisher of the Helena Daily World. He said last week’s news of GateHouse Media’s announced closure of the Helena and Stuttgart newspapers was “a shame,” but he stopped short of speculating about the reasons.” Though Brett didn’t mention any specific

APA President Betty Magie passing the gavel to Incoming President Derwood Brett.

Hot Springs Village Voice editor to retire Meek has been editor of the newspaper since January 2015, but he has contributed to the Voice since 2007. He started at the newspaper as a columnist, writing a once-a-month profile about local World War II veterans. He moved on to staff writer, senior reporter, interim editor and, ultimately, editor, according to the announcement.

Jeff Meek, editor of the Hot Springs Village Voice, announced he is retiring this month and relocating to Texas to be closer to family. The announcement was published in this week’s edition of the Voice.

Hot Springs Village Voice Publisher Jennifer Allen was quoted as saying: “ … (Jeff) has served our community with such distinction and will be greatly missed. His leadership has brought state and national

recognition to our editorial team. Jeff leaves big shoes to fill, but I’m confident we will find a managing editor that shares his commitment to our community.” Meek and the Voice won acclaim earlier this year for its exhaustive coverage commemorating the 55th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Led by Meek, the newspaper published a special magazine about JFK that sold more than 5,500 copies. For the effort, editor and publisher named the Hot Springs Village newspaper as an honorable mention to its “10 Newspapers that Do it Right” list.


Focus on details key to Brett’s successful career APA Past President recalls years in newspaper industry

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they don’t show enough of a commitment to community coverage. “We have lost sight of our obligation,” he said. “A local newspaper’s job is to make sure that every person in the community is represented. Births, deaths, marriages, all those things are givens. They ought to be in the paper. … We are an historical record. One hundred years from now when people go back and research, they don’t go to TV or radio. They go to the newspapers and do archive searches. If we don’t provide that service, who will do it?” He said it bothered him that some newspapers charge customers to publish items like wedding, birth and death notices. There should be a way to both be profitable and to provide important services to the community a newspaper serves, he added. In his stops as a newspaper publisher, he said he tried to do as much as he could

Bob Moore, Ron Kemp, Brett and Jeff Christenson enjoy catching up at an APA Convention.

– writing editorials, selling advertising and reporting at meetings – “to make each newspaper reflect the community as best that I could.” Brett, a Farmerville, Louisiana, native, got his newspaper start at the Minden (Louisiana) Press Herald while he was studying journalism at Louisiana Tech University. One of his instructors at Louisiana Tech was Wiley Hilburn, a legendary Louisiana journalist and the mentor that emphasized Brett’s attention to detail. Hilburn was also instrumental in shaping how Brett would craft editorials. Brett’s editorials would go on to help convince Helena voters to adopt a much-needed school tax increase and push forward an effort to establish a community college in Mena. “(Hilburn) took an old country boy and made a journalist out of me,” Brett said. “He instilled in me a drive to lead my community the best I could, sometimes dragging and kicking them into the next century by writing editorials.” Brett, 72, had a newspaper career that took him from Minden to his first publishing job at the Washington County News in the Florida Panhandle. From there, he moved to Mena and was publisher there for a decade before moving to Helena.

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From Helena, he returned to Minden as publisher for a brief time before coming back to Arkansas. He left the newspaper business for a stint as communications manager for the Electric Co-operatives of Arkansas and then as manager of Clay County Electric Co-operative before retiring 13 years ago. Brett now resides in Mount Ida, where he refers to himself as a “consummate, fulltime volunteer.” He has served as president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and he is currently a board member for Healthy Connections, a network of community-based health clinics. He’s headed to Washigton, D.C., next week on a trip to lobby members of Congress on behalf of the state’s community health centers. He said he still pays close attention to the activities of Arkansas newspapers and to members of the APA. Brett was one of more than a dozen former APA presidents who attended the annual APA convention this past summer. “Most of us, I think, had the same desires for his or her local community, to make a difference,” he said, reflecting on his camaraderie with other APA members during his career. “Yeah, to make money, too. We had kids to support and employees to support and we did it for all the right reasons. We felt like we were making a difference.” September 5, 2019


Webinar addresses ways to enhance obit placement, readership

The Inland Press Association will sponsor a webinar on Tuesday, Sept. 10, for newspaper publishers and managers to learn how to enhance readership and revenue from obituaries. Ron Speechly, vice president of sales for Legacy.com will be the presenter. With obituary volume in newspapers down nearly 20 percent nationwide, the webinar will offer methods for reversing the trend. Speechley will offer insights he has gained from working with 1,500 newspapers. According to the webinar hosts, participants will be able to learn how to strengthen relationships with funeral home partners, provide funeral homes with new ways to encourage them to work on behalf of newspapers, teach readers why obituaries are important, make it easier to place an obituary in a newspaper and increase obituary volume through pricing options, packages and formats. The webinar is free to members of the Inland Press Association and $25 for nonmembers.

REGISTER TODAY: FOIA Seminar just two weeks away Just a few seats remain for this year’s Arkansas Press Association Freedom of Information Act Seminar featuring experts in Arkansas’s openrecords and open-meetings law. The seminar and luncheon will be Sept. 19 starting at 10:45 a.m. at the APA’s headquarters, 411 S. Victory St., in Little Rock. The two-hour event will feature an overview of FOIA and legal perspective from John Tull, partner at the Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull law firm and two-time recipient of the APA’s FOI Award. Tull will offer practical advice about the law and journalist access to meetings and public records. Tull’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with award-winning journalists who actively use FOIA for investigative reporting. The panel includes Chris Wessel, editor of the Jonesboro Sun and a winner of this year’s APA FOI Award; Sarah Perry, a Saline Courier reporter whose use of public records in reporting earned

Arkansas

her the 2019 I.F. Stone Award for investigative reporting; and Debra Hale-Shelton, former Conway bureau reporter for the Arkansas DemocratGazette and a previous I.F. Stone winner. The cost is $35 for APA members and $45 for nonmembers. Lunch is included in the registration fee. To register, visit https://www. arkansaspress.org/events/ EventDetails.aspx?id=1270309 or call (501) 374-1500.

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September 5, 2019


Stuttgart Daily Leader to close, Helena World sold Newspapers in Stuttgart and in HelenaWest Helena will publish their final editions under GateHouse Media ownership on Friday.

GateHouse announced last week that its last day to publish both the 148-year-old World and 134-year-old Leader is Sept. 6. It was announced on Thursday, September 5, that the World will be sold to HelenaWest Helena residents Chuck Davis and Andrew Bagley, effective Monday, Sept. 9. Davis and Bagley plan to change the publication schedule to weekly and utilize electronic options to supplement the print publication. Arkansas Press Association Executive Director Ashley Wimberley said the announced closings are reflective of the changing climate for the newspaper industry.

“Our responsibility as stewards of our democracy is to help the people of these communities continue to receive quality reporting and credible journalism,” Wimberley said. “We are confident that others will also step up to fill the gap in Stuttgart, and when they do, the Arkansas Press Association will be there to assist with marketing, advertising, education and advocacy efforts on their behalf.” According to GateHouse’s announcement of the closures, the company said the newspapers have been “adversely affected by shrinking print advertising budgets.” Matt Guthrie, regional vice president of GateHouse said: “Our company is committed to a sustainable future for local journalism, and will enthusiastically work with any interested parties” who may want to purchase the Daily Leader.

Industry Quote of the Week “Given how few young people actually read the newspaper, it’s a good thing they’ll be reading a newspaper on a screen.” -Bill Gates

According to GateHouse, readers or advertisers with concerns or comments may contact Jennifer Allen, East Arkansas group publisher, at jallen@ gatehousemedia.com or (870) 534-3400. Subscribers to the newspapers will receive refunds for the balance of their subscription costs no later than Oct. 6. Meanwhile, Allen last week made clear that GateHouse’s primary Southeast Arkansas newspaper, The Pine Bluff Commercial, is not closing. On Friday, Aug. 30, the Commercial published an article to refute rumors on social media and elsewhere. “Changes are being made with our printing press, and printing will be outsourced, but we will continue to print and deliver papers five days a week,” Allen was quoted as saying.

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September 5, 2019


Publishing trailblazers inducted into Hall of Fame Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder and Olivia Meyers Farrell were inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on Thursday, August 29, 2019. Among the criteria for selection to the Hall of Fame is whether the nominee has “positively elevated the status and positively impacted women and girls,” and “helped open new frontiers for women and society in general.”

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3 1. Longtime Dumas Clarion owner and former Arkansas State Representative Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder speaks passionately about free press and the right to assemble. 2. Olivia Meyers Ferrell, co-founder of Arkansas Business and former CEO of Arkansas Business Publishing Group is inducted into the Hall of Fame. 3. Jan Schick, former APA Executive Director Dennis Schick, APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley and APA Director of Operations Terri Cobb attended the event. Arkansas Publisher Weekly

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September 5, 2019

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: September 5, 2019  

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

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: September 5, 2019  

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