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Local Society of Professional Journalists group named Small Chapter of the Year


Jacksonville council members accused of FOIA violation


Ar k ansas

Publisher Weekly


Vol. 14 | No. 37 | Thursday, September 12, 2019

Serving Press and State Since 1873

Love of journalism, each other drives Ron and Nancy Kemp over four decades Whether they’re on a lakeshore in Wisconsin, a hillside in east Texas or “Road Hog” Park in the shadow of the University of Arkansas’s football stadium, Ron and Nancy Kemp never stray far from their home in the newspaper business. The former Clay County newspaper owners now travel extensively in their Winnebago RV – this weekend they’re headed to Fayetteville for a football game – yet find their extensive journalism experience comes in handy when meeting new friends at a campground or RV park. “In the newspaper business, you do meet a lot of people, interviewing them and asking them questions,” Ron Kemp said. “We tend to meet people and try to be reporters, asking about their lives, what they’re doing and what they enjoy.” It’s the same type of interactions the Kemps were accustomed to over 46 years in the Arkansas newspaper industry. The two met

in the early 1970s when they took jobs within a few months of each other at the Russellville Courier-Democrat. After getting married, they worked for a year at the Wynne Progress before acquiring the Clay County Democrat in Rector. They bought four other weekly newspapers in the area before selling the publications to Cape Girardeau, Missouri-based Rust Communications in 1997. Ron Kemp served as a regional vice president for Rust and was later promoted to vice

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1993 APA President Ron Kemp and his wife, Nancy, greeted thenPresident Bill Clinton in the White House Diplomat Reception Room.

APA’s FOIA Seminar sign-up deadline approaches Limited space is available for journalists and the public alike to attend the Arkansas Press Association’s 2019 Freedom of Information Act seminar. This special seminar will be held Thursday, Sept. 19, from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at APA, 411 S. Victory St., in Little Rock. Registration is $35 for APA members and associates, and $45 for nonmembers. Lunch is included in the registration costs. Attendees will learn about Arkansas’s 53-year-old open records and open meetings law from a noted FOIA expert and from three journalists who

consistently utilize FOIA in their coverage.



John Tull, a partner with the Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull law firm in Little Rock, will discuss FOIA, its legal implications and the changes to FOIA enacted by the Arkansas Legislature earlier this year. Sarah Perry of the Saline Courier, Chris Wessel of the Jonesboro Sun and Debra Hale-Shelton,



who formerly worked for the Arkansas DemocratGazette will take part in a panel discussion and question-and-answer session about using FOIA in reporting. To register, visit https:// w w w. a r k a n s a s p r e s s . org/events/EventDetails. aspx?id=1270309 or call the APA office at (501) 3741500. Registration deadline is Tuesday, September 17.

Love of journalism, each other drives Ron and Nancy Kemp over four decades Continued from Page 1

president of operations for the company, overseeing newspapers in eight states,

Ron and Nancy pasting up the newspaper on a Tuesday night in Piggott.

while also serving as mayor of Rector, a position he held for 16 years. Nancy Kemp was an editor and writer for the newspapers in northeast Arkansas during that time, and she established Delta Crossroads magazine in 2010. She was the popular magazine’s editor until her retirement last year.

friends throughout the state.” The Kemps said one common thread among several APA-member publishers was that, like them, husbands and wives both ran newspapers. Those friends included the Magies, the Jacksons, the Graveses, the Christensens, the Blands, the Wylies, the Fishers, and of course the Schicks. Between working together, raising a family and now traveling the country, the Kemps laughed about all the time they spend with each other – but both noted they complement each other well and are proud of the careers, life and family they built. Their daughter, Ashley Wimberley, is the APA’s executive director, and their son, Jonathan Kemp, is a regional manager for Sysco Foods, and they have four granddaughters – Madison, Anna, Maggie, and Claire – with whom they love to spend time.

Russellville about three or four months before he was. Both were English majors in college and both had an interest in journalism that continues to this day. She said they have met and interviewed countless VIPs over the years, including the chronicling of then-Gov. Bill Clinton and other politicians at the famous Rector Labor Day Picnic. “But my favorite stories were of ordinary people who made an extraordinary impact on the world,” Nancy Kemp said. Both said newspapers should never lose focus on the importance of the local community in their coverage. “I think one of the most important things newspapers can do right now is just stay connected to the communities,” she said. “It seems to me there’s just not the same passion for the community that existed when we first started. If you’re really involved in the community, people see that

“While meeting deadlines on a regular basis for almost 50 years could be at times very stressful, we loved our time as newspaper people,” Ron Kemp said. “The opportunity to serve our communities, meet so many interesting people and enjoy such great experiences was a tremendous gift. Looking back, there is a real satisfaction in being a part of what is sometimes called the first draft of history.” The camaraderie they share now with friends in the RVing community is similar to the relationships the Kemps cultivated with others at Arkansas newspapers. Ron Kemp was president of the Arkansas Press Association in 1993. The couple joined APA in 1977 and have rarely missed an association gathering or convention since. Not only has the APA helped them make connections with their counterparts across the state, they met lasting friends who shared a focus and interest in community service and engagement. “We made many lifelong friends during our association with the APA and continue to enjoy seeing them …,” Ron Kemp said. “We both encourage all newspaper folks in the state to become involved with the APA, both from the professional improvement perspective and the opportunity to make Arkansas Publisher Weekly

This photo is from an Arkansas Press Association convention trip to Libertyland in Memphis. From left, Ron and Nancy, Maxine Kemp (Ron’s mother), Jan Schick, Leslie Schick Gorrell, Cone MagIe and Jay Jackson.

“We are fortunate that we share a lot of the same interests and enjoy a lot of the same things,” Nancy Kemp said. “We’re very lucky in that regard.” Her husband added, “We’ve made the statement that there can’t be very many couples that have spent as much time together over the years as we have. In our case, the phrase ‘opposites attract’ does not work because we like the same things and have that bond that we’ve always had.” Nancy Kemp laughs that she’s been in the newspaper business “much longer” than her husband since she was hired in 2

and it’s reflected in your work.” Newspapers have faced mounting financial challenges for years now, Ron Kemp said, and he applauds the newspapers who are weathering the current climate. “Anyone who is doing a good job of maintaining or growing their newspaper is a talented person because there are quite a few challenges out there,” he said. “I continue to be impressed at how adaptive newspaper people are to a changing environment. It’s remarkable how some publishers and editors are doing in the face of those challenges.”

September 12, 2019

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Kennedy hired as managing editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial The Pine Bluff Commercial announced it has hired Rick Kennedy as its new managing editor. Kennedy starts at the newspaper on Sept. 16. Kennedy most recently was editor of the Helena Daily World. He previously worked at the Commercial as a copy editor and night desk supervisor.

Jeff Brasher, a former page designer for the Times Record in Fort Smith and Stephens Media, died Sept. 9. He was 47. Brasher, of Hackett, worked for the Times Record for 23 years. He left the newspaper in 2016 to work as a graphic designer at Consolidated Printing in Van Buren. He graduated from Greenwood High School and studied journalism at Westark Community College and the University of Central Arkansas. Survivors include a daughter, Corrine Brasher of Van Buren; sons Christian Brasher of Hackett and Colin Brasher of Seattle; one brother; two sisters and a granddaughter. Brasher’s funeral is Friday at 2 p.m. at McConnell Funeral Home in Greenwood. To sign an online guestbook, visit www. mcconnellfh.com.

Industry Quote of the Week “I knew I was going to be a journalist when I was eight years old and I saw the printing presses rolling at the Sydney newspaper where my dad worked as a proofreader.” -Geraldine Brooks Arkansas Publisher Weekly

and has earned 42 industry awards or certificates. He was a newspaper publisher in Blackfoot, Idaho, and has worked in various media organizations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“We’re excited to have Rick join our team,” said Jennifer Allen, publisher of the Commercial, in the announcement of the hire. “His extensive editorial experience will allow the Commercial to continue its leadership in providing the best local coverage. “ Kennedy is a 1988 graduate of the University of Louisiana. In his threedecade newspaper career, he has worked in television, radio and newspapers

Rick Kennedy

Local Society of Professional Journalists group named Small Chapter of the Year Congratulations to the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which was recently named SPJ’s Small Chapter of the Year for the second year in a row. SPJ each year recognizes the best chapters “for their commitment to SPJ’s mission and the journalism profession,” according to an SPJ news release. The Arkansas Pro Chapter was honored for its engagement, which included a panel discussion on reporting during tragedies, its Sunshine Week FOIA blitz and its traveling ice cream Left to right: Sarah DeClerk, Wendy Miller and Jennifer Everett Ellis. social events that covered journalism topics on college campuses. SPJ partners with the Arkansas Press Association on a number of projects, including support of the production of the definitive Arkansas FOIA handbook. “Our local SPJ chapter should be a model for how journalists can benefit each other and the community through professional development and advocacy,” said Ashley Wimberley, APA executive director. “We congratulate the Arkansas Pro chapter for earning this honor for the second consecutive year.” 4

September 12, 2019

Jacksonville council members accused Statements of Ownership should of FOIA violation be filed by Oct. 1 Jacksonville City Council Member Tara Smith has admitted to violating the deadline Freedom of Information Act by meeting The deadline for paid distribution newspapers to file their Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation form (PS Form 3526) with the U.S.Postal Service is approaching. The deadline to file is Oct. 1. Paid digital subscriptions may be included as circulation in postal statements. A paid subscriber, electronic or print, may only be counted once. A print subscriber with free access to a digital subscription cannot be counted as a paid digital subscriber. In addition, paid digital subscribers must pay more than a more than a nominal rate for the subscription to be counted. After filing the statement with the postmaster, publication owners must publish the statement according to the following timetable, depending on the frequency of publication: *Publications issued more frequently than weekly must publish no later than Oct. 10. This applies to dailies, semiweeklies, and three-times-per-week publications. *Publications issued weekly or less frequently, but not less than monthly, must publish the statement by Oct. 31. This includes weekly newspapers. *All other publications such as quarterlies must publish in the first issue after Oct. 1.

Mark Your Calendar November 7 - 8 2019 ArkLaMiss Conference, Ameristar Casino & Hotel, Vicksburg, MS Arkansas Publisher Weekly

with two other council members, the city clerk and three members of the police department to discuss pay raises for police officers.

City Council Member Terry Sansing was scathing in his criticism of Smith and others at the meeting, calling it “a violation of public trust and an insult to the rest of the city council members.” Smith said it was not her intention to hold the meeting in secret, but she asked Jacksonville Police Capt. Kelley Smiley to “come at 4:00 three of us will be there to discuss step pay on the down low” for the Aug. 15 meeting that was also attended by two other officers. In an interview with The Leader, Smith said she was unfamiliar with FOIA protocols and pledged to always notify the media of meetings in the future. Smith has pledged to strictly abide by FOIA laws.

City Council Member Tara Smith

“I have my book now. And, you know what, it specifically says right here, ‘A group meeting of the members of a city council, even if less than a quorum, is subject to the FOIA if members discuss or take action on any matter on which foreseeable city council action will be taken,” Smith read from the booklet. Smith said she would contact the Municipal League about FOIA requirements. “We want to do it the right way,” she said.

Editor’s note: This story was excerpted and edited from an article written by Jonathan Feldman of The Leader in Jacksonville.

Missouri J-School launches programs for teachers The School of Journalism at the University of Missouri is offering free online learning resources for middle school and high school teachers.

“I am most excited about the variety of topics covered, each with fundamental principles as well as elements of increased rigor, so scaffolding is possible,” she said.

According to a news release, each module of the 25-module Missouri High School Journalism Program contains learning objectives, short video lectures, worksheets and activities, quizzes and related resources. The topics covered include everything from audience engagement and audio storytelling to reporting and interviewing and journalism ethics.

For teachers interested in the resource, or for more information, email Ron Kelley at kelleyr@missouri.edu.

The program, built in the Canvas learning management system, will accept up to 300 teachers during the inaugural year. In the release, Beth Schull, a journalism teacher and student newspaper advisor at Little Rock Central, said she was looking forward to the detailed lesson plans with clear formative and evaluative components. 5

September 12, 2019

Guest Column:

There’s a reader revenue revolution happening. Will legacy news miss it — again? By Jim Brady Reynolds Jounalism Institute asked Jim Brady, a digital news thought leader and keen observer of trends and opportunities in the news industry, to share his thoughts once a month on key developments that are shaping and will continue to shape discussions about the future of journalism. When it comes to legacy news media and any new digital innovation, you can usually count on two things: The innovation will begin too late, and even when it does, it’s often a half-measure that doesn’t make up lost time. We were slow to embrace digital and, when we finally did, we built electronic versions of our legacy products. We failed to embrace the mobile revolution before responding by creating mini versions of our desktop sites. We were slow to recognize that digital was a two-way medium prior to launching interactive features we barely monitored. The end result has been a maddening 25year string of missed opportunities and mounting financial woe. Despite all those blunders, there’s yet another opportunity now, and it’s a big one: the rise of reader revenue. This provides one of the best chances we’ll have to erase some of our past mistakes, but only if we remember this crucial point: We cannot change who we get our money from without significantly changing the product we offer them. Otherwise, the reader revenue revolution will become yet another missed opportunity killed by halfmeasures. The reader revenue opportunity unites the business and editorial sides around a common goal: serving the consumer. The relationship needs work. Because, let’s be honest, while digital advertising was a healthy business for a while, it wreaked havoc in legacy news media organizations. Traffic volume was prioritized over quality. A page view from down the block was no different than one 5,000 miles away. There was no technical limitation on how many ads we could run. As a result, the goals of the newsroom and the goals of the business side were opposed, leading to a tidal wave of unusable web sites, thanks to the whack-a-mole pop-up ads, auto-play videos, unnecessary pagination and other audience-killing “innovations.” Arkansas Publisher Weekly

But when you focus on earning money from your readers, both the editorial and business sides can put the consumer at the center of their solar systems. If you add 100 new subscribers or members on a single day, it’s both great for the business and almost impossible to achieve without providing editorial value. It’s not a stretch to say that, for most news organizations, this has never been the case in the digital world. Also, unlike a lot of other digital media fads, this is not one that requires much technological investment. The most meaningful technology we need to make reader revenue work is free (albeit complex): the human brain. While I believe that membership programs are a better long-term option than paywalls, there’s a transition that needs to happen before most paywalled sites can convince consumers to pay. That’s because many newsrooms – mostly local newspapers – need time to rebuild the relationship with their consumers, who have been dealing with thinner papers, a decline in journalism quality and barely-usable web sites for years, all while subscription rates have escalated and paywalls have been erected. So, for now, paywalls may be the only option for them. I believe that needs to change to a public-radio like donation model, and that starts by creating products that not only provide value to consumers but also invite them into our world and treat them as what they are: partners. (I know of what I speak, as I recently sold two of the sites I operated to public radio: Billy Penn to WHYY and Denverite to Colorado Public Radio).


Here are specific changes I believe news organizations need to adopt to succeed in this new world: Have a point of view No, this doesn’t mean having a political point of view (though that works for some). It means letting your readers know what you stand for and exemplifying it day after 6

day. At Billy Penn, for example, our point of view was: “Philadelphia is a wonderful, crazy and flawed city, and we want to work with all of you to make it better.” Our story selection, our voice and our events all flowed from that point of view. And the most important part is that it puts the public front and center. “We report on important things that happen in our community” isn’t really a point of view; it’s a description of what you do. A point of view needs to include an explicit reference to the audience. If it doesn’t, it needs an edit. Develop a voice Again, this doesn’t mean partisan ranting. Having a voice merely means occasionally ditching the traditional institutional voice and talking to people like they’re, well, people. That can mean trying to answer questions they didn’t even know they had, like The Incline did here, here and here. It can mean making a joke about something uncontroversial, like Billy Penn did here, here and here. It can mean addressing the reader casually in a headline, like Denverite did here, here and here. Talking to consumers like they talk to their friends isn’t something to be afraid of; it’s a necessary part of our evolution.


Rethink your content mix To serve the audience, we need to better anticipate what they need. When a highway is going to be closed for construction, we need to help them avoid the mess, not just detail the work. When a huge event is coming to town, we need to cover its impact on the community, not just the event itself. When a storm is coming, we need to tell them where to get sandbags, not just cover the storm. And, using tools like Hearken, we need to ask readers what they want to know, and not merely depend on our instincts. Listen — and respond If you’re an editor, I have two questions for you: 1) Is there anything on your home Continued to Page 7

September 12, 2019


There’s a reader revenue revolution happening. Will legacy news miss it — again? Continued from Page 6

page right now that explicitly asks readers to provide something to you, i.e. a question, a vote, a photo, etc., and 2) If so, is anyone in your newsroom doing anything with that information? If the answer to both is yes, great. If not, you’re missing an easy opportunity to build loyalty and trust. Too many sites ask for information from consumers and do nothing with it, which is actually worse than not asking. Get out of your office At Spirited Media, we found one of the most fertile paths to convincing someone to be a member was event attendance. It’s a shorter path for a consumer to give when they’ve actually met the people they’re supporting. We can’t ask people to give because of how important we are or how long we’ve been around. Most people don’t care about that. They don’t just want to support something; they want to be part of something. Events are a great way to knock down the wall between a news organization

and the public it ostensibly serves. Yes, I know journalists may not be the most social of beings, but tough times require adaptation. Serve your audience first — not your newsroom When adopting new strategies, it’s crucial to remember that the consumer is paramount. If a new strategy will serve readers well, it’s likely the right strategy, regardless of what your newsroom thinks about it. Curation is a perfect example. Most reporters and editors are not fans of linking out to other sites, especially if those sites are competitors. You know what? Who cares? If a reputable news organization in your town is reporting something you don’t have, you’re doing the reader a disservice by not letting them know. Be human Because we’ve written with an institutional voice for so long, and largely stayed

cloistered in our newsrooms, we’re not known entities in our communities the way we ought to be. It’s crucial we remind consumers that we live in the same communities they do. We go to the same supermarkets, our kids go to the same schools, and we sit in the same terrible traffic jams they do. “Write like you live here” is a crucial mantra, and we must be better at it. We cannot underestimate how seismic a shift the move to reader revenue could be. But the digital history of legacy media is littered with “coulds.” Can we do better than half-measures this time around?

Jim Brady is CEO of Spirited Media, which operated local news sites, including Billy Penn, before selling them. Previously, he held posts at the Washington Post, Digital First Media and AOL.

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Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: September 12, 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 12, 2019  

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