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ArkLaMiss Arkansas attendees share feedback Pre-session forum with Gov. Hutchinson, legislative leaders set


Ar kansas


Publisher Weekly

Vol. 13 | No. 48 | Thursday, November 29, 2018


Serving Press and State Since 1873

After 50 years in industry and one year of health problems, Warren’s Danny Cook ready to get back to work

If there’s anything Danny Cook’s learned in the last few months of his 50-year newspaper career, it’s that he’s not ready to quit any time soon.

Cook, publisher of the Eagle Democrat in Warren, has been sidelined with health problems since last December. Hopefully on the road to recovery now, Cook said this week he’s eager to get back to the same newspaper he started at as a 17-year-old print shop worker in 1968. “A lot of people say, ‘You can afford to retire,’ and ‘You can still pretty well do everything you want for the rest of your life,’” Cook said. “But the last year, the way I have been in the hospitals and laid up at the house looking at four walls at a time, I know I’m not ready to retire. I’m ready to get out of the house.” Cook underwent multiple surgeries over the past year, and he said he’s spent a total of 65 nights at the hospital since December 2017. The medical troubles started during a routine colonoscopy when his colon was accidentally perforated. Resulting complications led to more surgeries. Finally, just two weeks ago, an expert gastrointestinal specialist in Little Rock performed a complicated surgery to repair the problems and hopefully get Cook back to normal soon. Cook praised his wife, Pam, for managing the paper and tending to his health during what’s been a long and trying year for both. “My wife is more or less keeping the paper going until I get back. If it hadn’t been for my wife, I don’t know what I would have done. She’s worked a lot in the year since all my trouble started,” he said. “It’s really been a toll for her, keeping me as healthy

as I can be and running the newspaper, too.”

The Cooks met at the same newspaper they now own, and just this month they made their final installment payment to the widow of former owner Bob Newton. Danny Cook bought the Eagle Democrat from Newton in 1998.

jobs prevented him from leaving the industry altogether in 1980, when he got training in the HVAC business and opened Cook’s Heating and Air. That business remains open to this day.

“I had been there so long when we bought it, it was in my blood to stay in the newspaper business,” he said. Just before his 18th birthday, in August 1968, Cook started “at the very bottom,” he said, working with hot type. When the publication transitioned to offset printing, Cook took the lead and learned the craft as production manager. As he gained seniority at the paper he also gained responsibilities. In the later years of Newton’s ownership, he said the publisher would often be at his Hot Springs condominium or at the beach, leaving day-to-day operations to Cook. “I caught on to the print industry pretty good,” Cook said. “After learning all about offset printing, I started making pretty good salaries; there wasn’t a better job out there and I was still interested in (the newspaper business.) Mr. Newton put a whole lot of responsibility on me.” Newton gave Cook the first opportunity to buy the newspaper when he decided to retire, Cook said. Additionally, Newton gave him flexibility to pursue his other business interest, the heating and airconditioning trade. Newton’s willingness to let Cook do both

Danny Cook shows off the Eagle Democrat in front of the newspaper office in Warren.

“I’ve kept running both of them all these years,” Cook said, though the avid crappie fisherman admits he’s been tempted to retire to the lake and to doting on his four grandchildren. “I’m not going to say that if someone came along right now and offered me anything close to what the newspaper was worth, I wouldn’t sell it.” One thing’s for certain, though, he’ll never venture far from Warren. “I was born here and I’ve been here all my life,” he said. “I’ve never been in the big towns that much. I can be at my deer camp in 15 minutes, and a lot of places I like to fish I can be at within the hour. I’ve always enjoyed the small towns.”

ArkLaMiss Arkansas attendees share feedback on recent marketing and circulation conference Publishers, general managers, circulation directors and audience development professionals from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi gathered earlier this month in Vicksburg, Miss., for the annual ArkLaMiss Circulation, Marketing and Audience Development Conference. The successful annual conference featured workshops to help newspapers drive circulation and revenue growth. Several members of the Arkansas Press Association who attended the conference provided feedback and takeaways: “This was my first time to attend the annual ArkLaMiss conference … This was much more than a circulation conference. It was a great marketing conference as well. Here are a few Kelly Freudensprung of the things that impressed me most about the conference: Low cost of registration and low cost at hotel; Attendees were interactive. I picked up great ideas in the hallways before and after sessions; great speaker with lots of ideas to steal and implement quickly; idea exchange paid for the conference. I have

already implemented several ideas. There was a bunch of good stuff crammed into a day and a half. It was a very efficient use of my time.” – Kelly Freudensprung, The Saline Courier, Benton “The ArkLaMiss conference this year was my first. I learned a lot and enjoyed the speaker, Peter Wagner. I learned how to improve our newspaper. One of the things Zach Killian the speaker spoke about was how the newspaper industry is not dying. After all these years, he said, the newspaper industry is still here. He talked about promotions to subscribers or advertisers for our newspaper. One of the quotes Wagner said that I liked was, ‘People want facts and details, not breaking news.” He gave tips on improving content in our newspapers and on designing. Wagner said graphics catch the reader’s eye and make them want to read what the article is about. He said there are other ways to catch the reader’s attention. The last session was Q&A. He answered a lot of questions and some of it turned into a discussion between all of us.

I really enjoyed the conference and hope to attend again next year.’ – Zach Killian, South Arkansas Sun, Hampton “This is a small conference, but I never come away from it that I don’t bring home great ideas for improvement. That could be in the form of better Byron Tate customer service or a new idea for an ad campaign or even some editorial advice. This year was no different. Peter Wagner, publisher of the N’West Iowa REVIEW was our keynote speaker, and he never let up. He has created a juggernaut in that part of Iowa, and as he says, he wasn’t from a newspaper background so he had no preconceived notions about what would and wouldn’t work. His point was that he tried things that others with more experience might have shunned and has been successful. He even joined our publishers’ roundtable on Thursday morning. The roundtable alone is worth the price of admission! The conference is definitely worth your time, and I would highly recommend it.” – Byron Tate, Sheridan Headlight

Supporters of a free press donate to the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation on #GivingTuesday Nonprofit organizations across the country, including the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation (ANF), took part in Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, Nov. 27. The day is set aside annually to feature the integral work that nonprofit organizations play in our society. ANF assists the state’s community newspapers through educational fellowships, training grants, internship support and awareness programs. On this year’s Giving Tuesday, donors gave $620 to the Foundation. Newspaper industry advocates are encouraged to donate to ANF through the end of the year on the Foundation’s webpage, https:// www.arkansaspress.org/page/aboutanf. Benefactors may use the “click-to-donate” Arkansas Publisher Weekly

button to submit their gift. “We have so much gratitude for donors to the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation,

who recognize the importance of good journalism to their communities and to our society,” said Ashley Wimberley, executive director of the Arkansas Press


Association. “Gifts from Giving Tuesday and in the future will benefit newspapers across the state.” The Foundation promotes Newspapers in Education programs, provides support for continuing education and funds scholarships for college journalism students to work for community newspapers. In addition, the Foundation supports the APA’s ongoing efforts to protect the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and other legislative efforts. The Foundation is only able to support community newspapers through donations, and gifts of any size are welcome. November 29, 2018

Municipal League chief says FOIA changes needed

Editor’s note: At a recent meeting in Jonesboro, the executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League spoke at length about the Freedom of Information Act and changes he would like to see to the Act. As Arkansas Publisher Weekly readers are aware, the Arkansas FOIA Coalition strongly opposes any proposed legislation that would weaken the state’s open records and open meetings law. The Coalition meets for an organizational session ahead of the 2019 General Assembly on Thursday, Dec. 13, at noon at the Arkansas Press Association office in Little Rock. The following article by the Jonesboro Sun’s Keith Inman is reprinted with permission.

JONESBORO — The Arkansas Legislature has created so many exemptions to the state Freedom of Information Act since it was enacted in 1967, even 12 lawyers who work on behalf of cities have trouble finding them all. Mark Hayes, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League, said during a gathering of veteran and newly-elected city officials that that’s a problem for the cities and for the people. “The current Freedom of Information Act has 23 exceptions listed in the act itself,” Hayes said. “In the remainder of the statutes in this state, which there are thousands, there are 47 other exceptions. But the only way to find them is to research them i n d i v i d u a l l y. We have some great research lawyers in our office. We can’t find all of these.” Hayes said his staff has spent about a year trying to find them all, and he’s not certain they’ve found them all. Hayes said his staff is working with the Bureau of Legislative Research on legislation that would list all the exceptions in one place. “The issue for us, of course, is I get a city that calls me and says, ‘Can I release this or not,’” Hayes told The Sun following his presentation. “And I say, ‘Well hold on, let me go through the statute first.’ Then, I’ve got to go independently research to try to find something that may or may not hit the mark. And I think it’s unfair to the public, frankly, that don’t really know. At least put it all in the same place. At least we’d all be Arkansas Publisher Weekly

fishing out of the same pond.” Hayes also wants to add an exception to protect communications between cities and their lawyers from being made public. A similar proposal by the University of Arkansas failed in 2017. While university officials couldn’t site specific incidents that were problematic in the past, Hayes said he can. In one situation, he said the league shut down for two days in an attempt to comply with an FOI request. “It was a plaintiff’s lawyer in town who decided he wanted a copy of every single one of our litigation files for, I think, like a 15-year period,” Hayes recalled. “This was a couple of years ago. We made a good faith effort, two straight days, 10hour days. The breadth was just huge.” Hayes said he also got another problematic request.

deposition,’” Hayes said.

“In the middle of a deposition, a plaintiff’s lawyer actually said, ‘I want to see your whole file, including your notepad you were making notes on in your

Hayes said he would propose an alternative of releasing such files after litigation is completed. He also wants to exempt the identities of police confidential informants. Under current law, the names of the informants remain secret until after a criminal case is concluded. But Hayes argued that the names should remain confidential because of the potential for retaliation against the informant. 3

Pre-session forum with Gov. Hutchinson, legislative leaders set

APA and the Associated Press will host a forum and reporter’s roundtable with Arkansas legislative leaders and Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday, Jan. 11. The forum will be held at the APA’s headquarters, 411 S. Victory St., in Little Rock. The participants will discuss the upcoming 2019 General Assembly and will address their key priorities for the legislative session. Leaders of the House and Senate will kick off the forum at 10 a.m., followed by Gov. Hutchinson’s remarks at 11 a.m. The forum will give reporters the opportunity to gain insight on the likely themes and challenges for the Legislature in 2019. Please consider attending this important event.

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November 29, 2018

Guest Column:

Newspapers, Magazines in My Early Life By Jerry Nichols, columnist for the Pea Ridge Times My family, as I was growing up, always subscribed to two newspapers and to several magazines. In the early 1940s, newspapers and radio stations were not plentiful in Northwest Arkansas. Back then we always subscribed to the Southwest Times-Record as our daily paper. The Times-Record was published in Fort Smith, and came to us by mail. In those years the Pea Ridge community was a one-rural-route community, so our mail was delivered to Route 1, Pea Ridge Ark. We may have had a box number, but if so I never knew it, and it was not necessary to write a box number for the mail to reach us. Russell Nichols, Route 1, Pea Ridge, Ark., was enough of an address for the mailman to know where to deliver our mail. Zip codes hadn’t been invented back then, and out-in-the-country locations didn’t have street-like names for roads or house numbers such as we have today. Our Times-Record newspaper was delivered every day, but always a day late. We also always subscribed to the Benton County Democrat. The Democrat was a Bentonville newspaper, published weekly. Their offices were along south side of the first block of West Central Ave. in Bentonville. The Democrat often carried local Pea Ridge news, and many Pea Ridge businesses advertised in the Bentonville paper. I would very much like to be able to look up some of the old copies of the Benton County Democrat, although I understand that most of the originals were lost when a fire destroyed a portion of the Massey Hotel building some years ago. My first memories of reading the newspaper comes from the war years, during World War II. My Dad would come into the house after the evening’s chores were done, sit in his rocking chair between the black wood heating stove and the radio stand near

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

the southeast window in our living room. I would sit in his lap and he would read parts of the paper to me, especially the comic page, with Little Orphan Annie, Detectives Dick Tracy and Sam Ketchem, Allie Opp, Little Lulu and her friend Sluggo, Dagwood and Blondie, Li’l Abner by Al Capp, and Mutt and Jeff. Dagwood and Blondie is the longest running newspaper cartoon that I am aware of. The Bumstead kids have never grown up, although some 80 years have passed. Dagwood still works for J.C. Dithers, still gets chewed out nearly every day, and Herb is still Dagwood’s neighbor and friend. But, now, Blondie runs a catering business instead of being a stay-at-home Mom, and Dagwood goes to work in a carpool instead of every day almost missing his ride on the city bus line. Dick Tracy and Sam Ketchem introduced the two-way wrist radio, which is the precursor of today’s cell phones and smart phones. We have them now in a big way, but the idea for them was hatched in the 1930s. Our magazines at home were mostly farm magazines. We were long-time subscribers to the Farm Journal. Also, early on, we subscribed to a similar farm magazine called The Country Gentleman. The Country Gentleman went out of business while I was still a boy, but the Farm Journal endured for long years. We also took the Hoard’s Dairyman, a large format magazine devoted to dairy cows and milk production. After 1953, milk production became the main focus of our farm operation, and the Hoard’s Dairyman magazine helped us keep abreast of the changing equipment, developing methods, and marketing trends in the dairy business. I’m not sure just why, but I was always interested in keeping up with the farm equipment advertising, which promoted farm tractors, tractor-powered implements, milking machines, milk coolers, and such things.


Through the years, newspapers, supplemented by radio and television, have been my main way of keeping up with what is happening in the world and in the communities I have lived in and wanted to keep up with. In all the years we were away from Pea Ridge, we always subscribed to the Pea Ridge paper, beginning with the Pea Ridge Graphic, and the later Pea Ridge papers that followed. We lived in several similar communities in which similar good newspapers were published locally. The most notable was the Atkins Chronicle, published in Atkins, Ark. by the Van Tyson family. Interestingly, Becky Tyson, from the Atkins Chronicle’s Tyson family, was the managing editor of our Pea Ridge newspaper for several years up until about 2005. When we moved to Atkins in 1976, the main writer for the Atkins Chronicle was Tommy Gillespie, best known for his Tom’s Tales column. Tommy always used his column to tease people. He featured me one day when I broke my toe setting up for a garage sale. Also, interestingly, the Atkins area has a Pea Ridge community. Their Pea Ridge is a bit like our Twelve Corners or our Shady Grove communities. To me, the new ways of presenting news that we have available today by computer or smart phone can never take the place of a good newspaper. I still want to sit down with those big sheets of paper in my hand, and read the news, the political commentary, the letters to the editor (goofy as some of them are), and the comic pages. If I had my druthers, I would shut down Twitter. Jerry Nichols is a retired Methodist minister, and he serves on the board of the Pea Ridge Historical Society. Contact him at joe369@centurytel.net, or call (479) 621-1621.

November 29, 2018

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: November 29 2018  

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

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: November 29 2018  

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