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Ark a nsa s



Publisher Weekly

Vol. 13 | No. 52 | Thursday, December 27, 2018


Serving Press and State Since 1873

Looking back on 2018

As with years past, 2018 continued to be a time of transition for the newspaper industry in Arkansas. Arkansas Press Association members shared one voice in opposing U.S. tariffs on newsprint and joined to oppose criticism and negative attitudes toward journalists and the First Amendment. A handful of Arkansas newspapers printed their final editions, while others started up to fill those voids. In addition, the state lost some champions of the industry who passed away after years of service to their communities. Here’s a look back at some of the coverage of this transitional year in the Arkansas Publisher Weekly.

January •A Sebastian County Circuit Court Judge ruled that email exchanges among Fort Smith city directors in 2017 violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The suit, brought by Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen, argued that the emails constituted what the FOIA defines as a meeting. The judge agreed, stating that the discussion in the email exchanges should have occurred in public. The decision remains under appeal. •The U.S. Department of Commerce made a devastating announcement regarding tariffs on Canadian newsprint sold in the United States. The department increased tariffs at that time by nearly 10


•APA Executive Director Tom Larimer announced his retirement to readers of the Arkansas Publisher Weekly. Larimer had served as executive director since 2004 following a long career in the newspaper industry. The Berryville native and Navy veteran worked for his family’s newspaper and printing business and held newspaper jobs in Nevada, Missouri, and in Murfreesboro and Nashville,Tennessee. •The APA named 59 Arkansas newspapers to its “Public Notices Honor Roll” for consistently uploading public notices to the APA website. The 59 newspapers recognized that uploading the notices and ensuring they are posted online is effective in fighting off attempts at the Legislature to

percent, alleging that Canadian newsprint producers receive subsidies and put U.S. producers at a disadvantage. The Arkansas Press Association, National Newspaper Association and publishers across the country worked to repeal the tariffs. •Kelly Sublett was named publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, The former editor of the publication also oversees the Van Buren County Democrat and the Heber Springs Sun-Times. All three papers are owned by GateHouse Media. GateHouse bought the Log Cabin

remove public notices from newspapers. Those on the “Honor Roll” allow the APA to argue that there is no need to move public notices from newspapers because they are already uploaded to the internet at no cost to the government. •Ashley Wimberley, who had been serving as APA’s interim executive director, was formally named executive director in late February. She had been the APA’s director of marketing for more than a decade and had previously worked for Little Rock advertising firm CJRW.

Democrat from Morris Communications in August 2017. •An industry veteran in Walnut Ridge retired after 53-and-a-half years of service to the Times Dispatch. Janice Kay Hibbard had the longest full-time tenure of any employee in Times Dispatch history. She joined the newspaper staff in 1964. Hibbard, the advertising manager, worked for four generations of the Bland family, which owns the paper. She continues to go into the office one day a week.

Wimberley, a Rector native, grew up in a newspaper family — her parents were newspaper owners and journalists in northeast Arkansas. •The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette began a pilot program testing digital-only access for subscribers in Mississippi County. Subscribers in the Northeast Arkansas county would receive a free iPad to read the Democrat-Gazette’s digital edition for the price of a daily and Sunday subscription. Publisher Walter Hussman Jr. said there were “inescapable advantages to digital delivery.” The program has proven for the paper, which has since expanded the model to other counties in northeast and south Arkansas.

March •Publications across Arkansas observed Newspapers in Education (NIE) week from March 5-9. APA member newspapers with NIE programs were encouraged to cover various subjects related to newspapers throughout the week. APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley said the observance helps students “develop the habit of reading local newspapers, promotes literacy and increases hands-on learning in the classroom.” •In recognition of National Sunshine Week, March 11-17, the APA produced an advertisement for members to publish and asked members to participate through writing stories, editorials and columns. The theme for 2018 Sunshine Week was “It’s Your Right to Know.” Sonny Albarado, the state’s Sunshine Week chairman

and head of the Arkansas DemocratGazette investigations team, penned a column emphasizing the importance of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, and noting that over a three-month period, his paper had written 50 articles dealing with FOIA issues. •Stephanie Dodson of the Hot Springs Village Voice earned the “Best of Show” award at the APA Better Newspaper Advertising Awards. Her ad for Felix Brace & Limb shows a runner wearing a prosthetic leg against a background of a lake surrounded by mountains. Featured

conference speaker Kelly Wirges of ProMax Training provided attendees with key sales and marketing insights. •The Arkansas Publisher Weekly caught up with former APA President Charlotte Schexnayder. The 94-year-old Schexnayder, who now lives in assisted living in west Little Rock, attended her first APA conference in 1945. She served as a president of the National Federation of Press Women and the National Newspaper Association, and she was a state legislator from 1984 to 1999. She said in March that she is certain about the strong future of the newspaper industry: “A free press is the guardian of our democracy. In whatever form, it must be preserved.”

April •The Arkansas Newspaper Federation named four interns who would work with community newspapers in the summer of 2018. ANF sponsored the interns, after receiving interest from more qualified applicants than any other time in the intern program history. Awardees were Cassidy Kendall, who worked at The Times-Dispatch in Walnut Ridge; Andrea Johnson, who worked at the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Whitney Gladden, who worked at the Carroll County News in Berryville; and Grace Talley, who worked at the Nashville News-Leader. •The APA provided a special thanks to the 31 APA members who helped judge the Louisiana Press Association Better Newspaper Contest. Not only is judging contests from other states helpful since Arkansas relies on other state associations for judging, it also provides members with the opportunity to generate ideas and read

quality work produced by other papers.

•APA Historian Michael B. Dougan, a distinguished professor emeritus of history at Arkansas State University talked to the Arkansas Publisher Weekly about his book, “Community Diaries: Arkansas Newspapering, 1819-2002.” The book

remains available for sale at the APA office at a discounted price. Dougan has long been interested in Arkansas newspapers, having completed his master’s thesis decades ago on Little Rock newspapers during the Civil War. •Dennis and Jan Schick, who served the APA for 25 years, told the Arkansas Publisher Weekly what they have been doing since retirement in 2004. They spend a lot of time involved in choir and other activities at their church, Lakewood United Methodist in North Little Rock. Dennis Schick is the editor of an international magic newsletter, The Linking Ring.

May 36 years, and was writing for the paper until the time of his death. He interviewed dozens of noted sports celebrities over his career. He was a recipient of the APA’s “Golden 50” award for 50 years of service to the newspaper industry, and he was a member of the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.

•David McCollum, the longtime sports editor for the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, died at age 68 following a heart surgery in North Little Rock. He covered sports in Faulkner County for more than Arkansas Publisher Weekly

•A nine-year-old fourth grader at Greenbrier Eastside Elementary School launched a school newspaper after reading a book and being inspired to do so. Israel Bollinger and a group of about 15 other students met every morning to work on the project, called What’s Up Eastside, and printed monthly. 2

About 400 students see the product. Bollinger described himself as a “mover and a shaker.” •Pat Jones, publisher and general manager of the Batesville Daily Guard, retired after 46 years at the helm of the newspaper. Her family owned the publication during that time, and she noted that she originally intended only to stay a few weeks helping the team out with a software installation. She served as APA president in 1995. •Three new members were elected to the APA Board of Directors. New additions to the board in May were Kelly Freudensprung

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December 27, 2018


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of the Saline Courier in Benton, John Robert Schirmer of the Nashville NewsLeader and Crystal Costa of the Times

Record in Fort Smith. Board members are elected every year with the exception of president, vice president, immediate past

president and second vice president. The executive committee is voted on each year by the board at the Winter Board Meeting.

His son, Bob Troutt, described him as “a newsman first, and a businessman second.”

newspaper industry. Hussman’s WEHCO Media Inc. owns the Democrat-Gazette, several other Arkansas dailies and weeklies, and also papers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Jefferson City, Missouri. The Democrat-Gazette’s statewide circulation more than doubled since purchased by WEHCO. Hussman served on the Associated Press board of directors and the board for C-SPAN.

June •Miss America Savvy Shields was selected as the 2017 APA Headliner of the Year. The Fayetteville native was named Miss America in September 2016 after earning the Miss Arkansas crown. Her platform, “Eat Better, Live Better,” encouraged holistic wellness. She won a $50,000 scholarship as Miss America and she continues to make public appearances around Arkansas and the United States.

•Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was named recipient of the APA’s Distinguished Service Award for his significant contribution to the

•John Troutt Jr., the longtime owner of The Jonesboro Sun, died at 88. Troutt served as publisher and editor of The Sun until he sold the newspaper in 2000. He was an Army veteran, and was the first editor of the University of Arkansas student newspaper, The Arkansas Traveler. In 1998, The Sun was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Westside school shootings.


•The annual APA SuperConvention was held in Eureka Springs. The convention featured awards, recognitions and presentations, with the highlight being a gubernatorial debate between Gov. Asa Hutchinson and challengers Jared Henderson and Mark West. More than 50 newspapers participated in the annual Better Newspaper Editorial Contest.

News Midweek won the Photo of the Year Award.

•The APA recognized its winners of the 2018 Better Newspaper Editorial Contest. General excellence awards went to the Batesville Daily Guard, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the North Little Rock Times, The Leader in Jacksonville, and the Carroll County News Midweek. The I.F. Stone Award for investigative reporting went to Tammy Curtis of the Spring River Chronicle, and David Bell of Carroll County

•APA member newspapers mobilized to fight the debilitating tariffs levied on Canadian newsprint. During the first few months of 2018, the U.S. government raised tariffs to almost 30 percent. APA members were asked to sign petitions and call their lawmakers to prevent the negative impact the tariff decisions had on more than 600,000 American jobs. •The Modern News in Harrisburg published for the last time, after more than 130 years of continuous publication. The family-owned newspaper printed its final edition on July 5. The then-general manager of The Modern News said the paper remains for sale

and is hopeful that it could some day be re-opened to continue serving the Poinsett County community. •82-year-old Richard Folds retired as publisher of the Malvern Daily Record, which he called the best job he ever had. Over his 18-year tenure as publisher the business was profitable in all but one or two months. A Georgia native, Folds started at the paper in 1988 as an advertising account executive.

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Arkansas Publisher Weekly


December 27, 2018

August •APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley was the featured speaker at an Arkansas Society of Professional Journalists event. Her discussion was part of an ongoing effort to forge new partnerships and acquire additional association members. Wimberley she said she hoped professionals in the journalism community would become more involved with APA when they recognize APA is on the front lines at the Capitol fighting for them. •Newspapers nationwide joined a coordinated effort to promote press freedom and respond to recent criticism of the industry. Championed by The Boston Globe, newspapers large and small across the country published editorials addressing the ongoing threat of verbal attacks on the press. More than 350 newspapers participated in the effort, including a few APA members. •Dean Walls, the legendary publisher of the White River Journal, passed away at the age of 96. Walls spent every Wednesday night for seven decades (more than 3,600 of them) producing that week’s edition of

•The North Little Rock Times and Lonoke County Democrat published their final issues on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, respectively. GateHouse Media, which acquired the newspapers in 2015 from Stephens Media, folded seven publications into the two in 2017. The Democrat had been the longest continuously operated business in Lonoke County. Garrick Feldman, publisher of The Leader in Jacksonville, said his publication would expand to North Little Rock to try to fill the void. the Des Arc publication. She witnessed industry changes from linotype to offset press to pagination. She was the first and only recipient of the APA’s “Golden 60” service award for her work of more than six decades in the industry. •Karen Brown, executive director of the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation, announced her retirement after 14 years in the role. Under Brown’s leadership, the foundation expanded its programming through corporate partnerships, education and summer internships for college students. Her work directly benefited APA

•The newspaper industry secured a major victory when the International Trade Commisison eliminated the newspaper tariffs that had adversely impacted the industry since February. U.S. newsprint manufacturers could not prove they were materially harmed by the Canadian imports, the ITC said. APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley praised APA members and Sen. John Boozman for their vocal opposition to the tariffs.

September •The Daily Siftings Herald in Arkadelphia, the Hope Star, and the Nevada County Picayune in Prescott were shut down, based on the same financial considerations that caused their publisher, GateHouse Media, to close the papers in North Little Rock and Lonoke a few weeks earlier. The Siftings Herald had been in business for 150 years, and the Hope paper was 145 years old. •Publishers across the state said they were

taking a renewed look at security in the aftermath of the June shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, that left five people dead. Publishers said they were considering secure doors and cameras and were also re-evaluating disaster and emergency plans for employees. •Vickey Wiggins, who worked at the Paris Express for 42 years, retired as publisher of the paper, the oldest business in Logan

County. For half of her time at the paper, she was publisher. She also served as publisher of the Booneville Democrat from 2001 to 2016. She started at the paper just a few days after graduating high school. A Paris native, Wiggins worked under six different ownership groups during her time at the paper.

October •The 78th Annual National Newspaper Week observance ran from Oct. 7-13. The 2018 theme, “Journalism Matters, Now More than Ever,” highlighted the value of good journalism and its worth within the communities that newspapers serve. The theme was tied to the overall climate for journalism in the United States. Local newspapers recognized the week in a variety of ways, and some city and county leaders issued proclamations officially recognizing the week in their communities . •The century-old Eagle Democrat in Warren moved to computerized pagination after years of manually pasting up pages. The paper is one of the last to have laid out pages by hand. Editor Tim Kessler told readers the paper had “finally moved into Arkansas Publisher Weekly

Prescott News added to its online reporting by printing and distributing a weekly newspaper. The former editor of the Hope Star started a news website, SWARK.Today. Both entrepreneurs said the region was under served in its news coverage when GateHouse Media shuttered the Star and the Nevada County Picayune. the 21st Century,” and that the new system will allow the Eagle Democrat to extend its deadlines for late-breaking news and lastminute advertising. •Two startup news publications launched in southwest Arkansas, seeking to fill the void left by the closure of the Hope Star and Nevada County Picayune. The Hope4

•The state Freedom of Information Act Task Force voted to approve its report to the state Legislature. The task force, chaired by APA Board Member Ellen Kreth, was established during the 2017 legislative session. The task force made recommendations about seven possible bills that would change or impact the state’s open-records and open-meetings law.

December 27, 2018

November •The Batesville Daily Guard, having recently been purchased by Paxton Media, relocated its office. The paper had been at its previous location on Main Street for more than 35 years, but the space was just a little too big for the operation. The new office at 400 Harrison St. is more modern and accommodating for the staff.

Arkadelphia High School and Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) graduate. He teaches at both OBU and neighboring Henderson State University. The Dispatch started just weeks after the venerable Siftings-Herald was closed. •The annual ArkLaMiss Circulation, Marketing and Audience Development Conference was held in Vicksburg, Miss. APA members learned tips for generating new readership and revenue from keynote speaker Peter Wagner and during a “hot ideas” breakfast, where they shared revenue-generating and cost-saving tips.

•John Robert Schirmer, an APA board member and publisher of the Nashville News-Leader, announced he would start a new newspaper in Arkadelphia, the Arkadelphia Dispatch. The Dispatch published its first edition late in the year. It has an intense focus on local news, said editor Bill Sutley. The editor is an

December The Coalition will take policy positions and advocate to maintain the strength of the state’s 51-year-old FOI law. More than two dozen journalists, educators and FOIA advocates met to plan for the year ahead.

•Actions by the Springdale School District administration to censor an article by the Har-Ber High School student newspaper made headlines across the country. The district later reversed its decision to remove from the paper’s website an investigation into football players transferring from the school to rival Springdale. Leading experts

said the school’s initial actions violated the Arkansas Student Publications Act. Arkansas is one of 14 states with a law to protect student journalists. •The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act Coalition met for an organizational meeting in advance of the 2019 General Assembly.

•Arkansas State University trustees voted to create a School of Media and Journalism, three years after merging the Department of Journalism with other programs to create a Department of Media. Critics of that move said the highly-regarded journalism program had lost its identity, and they hope the name change will add emphasis and attention to a program that has lost students recently.

Wishing you a

Happy ppy New Year! from the Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly


December 27, 2018

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: December 27, 2018  

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

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: December 27, 2018  

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