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ANF Executive Director Karen Brown announces retirement

Guest Column:

How do we stop newspapers from fading into obscurity? By Tim Gallagher


Ar kansas


Publisher Weekly

Vol. 13 | No. 34 | Thursday, August 23, 2018


Serving Press and State Since 1873

Legendary publisher of White River Journal passes away at 96 Dean Walls’ newspaper ‘was the only thing she knew’ Every Wednesday night for seven decades — 3,600 Wednesday nights, more or less — Dean Walls put out a paper. From hand setting to linotype to offset press to pagination, the method changed but the work didn’t for the longtime publisher of the White River Journal  in Des Arc. Walls, who was 96, died Thursday, Aug. 16 at a Little Rock hospital. “Week in, week out, all her life. All her life was the newspaper,” said her son, Charles Walls. “There was usually one all-nighter every week. That never changed. It was the only thing she knew.” Butch Calhoun, a former state representative and former Prairie County judge from Des Arc, recalls many nights driving past the newspaper office at  11 p.m. or even later to see the lights on and know that “Mrs. Dean” was working on that week’s edition. “It was just a neat paper, done through love and a lot of hard work,” Calhoun said. “She was just an icon of our culture. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of good, local papers in our state, but as far as covering what went on the area, nobody could top Mrs. Dean and the White River Journal.” Walls’ newspaper career spanned more than 72 years, from when she and her late husband, Charles J. Walls, took over the newspaper from her father-in-law. She became editor and publisher in 1980 after her husband resigned because of health reasons. He preceded her in death in 1983. 

In 2012, she was recognized by the Arkansas Press Association as the first, and only, recipient of the Golden 60 Service Award for her work of more than six decades in the newspaper industry. The  Journal  suspended regular publication in August 2017, but Walls and her son continued distributing a digital version of the paper to subscribers via email. Charles Walls, who is 79, said his mother’s failing eyesight and the lack of additional manpower led to suspension of the print product. When the paper was suspended, Walls attempted to return to subscribers any money that may have been owed them for additional issues, but Charles Walls said that White River Journal loyalists wouldn’t have it.

Attending a 1940’s APA Convention in Hot Springs

“They didn’t want money. They just wanted a paper back,” he said. “She never did understand why someone local didn’t come talk to us and take it over. She would have trained them.” Calhoun, who is now director of the Arkansas State Plant Board, said it took losing the newspaper last year for Des Arc residents to fully recognize just how beneficial both the newspaper and Walls’ institutional knowledge were to the community. Losing her impacted the entire Grand Prairie region, he said. “It’s hard to put into words exactly what she meant to this community,” said Calhoun, who was a pallbearer at her funeral. “You take for granted all the years, all the time,

Dean Walls in her office at the White River Journal

and all the labor and love she put into that paper for our community. She loved Des Arc. We miss the paper. Nobody can keep up with what’s going on around town now, when people pass away or when people graduate.”

Continued on Page 2

Dean Walls Continued from page 1

Charles Walls said his mother never took a vacation, though she did take short trips for work-related matters, and she even attended President Clinton’s inauguration in Washington in 1992. She was committed to providing an abundance of information to her readers, which meant sometimes the Journal would be 16 or 20 pages per week, compared to many 8- or 10-page weeklies. He said the Christmasweek edition of the paper often had 30 pages or more. “She wanted to give readers the best newspaper around. It was always her goal,” Charles Walls said. “This newspaper was the only thing she knew, and she told the family she was going to die with her boots on. In other words, she was not going to retire. She was going to go down fighting here at the office.” Though she never finished high school, Walls was presented a diploma from Des Arc schools in the 1980s and was named an “honor graduate” of Des Arc High School. A pillar of the community, she was a founding organizer of Des Arc’s annual Steamboat Days festival, often participating in the festival’s lip sync show with elaborate costumes and hats. According to her son, she loved all types of music and entertaining. She often sang at events and as a soloist in the First United Methodist Church choir. She was born on Sept. 15, 1921, to Louis Wilbert and Mary Ethel Wesson Langford. A native of Beebe, she married

Dean Walls at the Linotype, with friends Sandra, Lynwood, and Sylvia, in 1954

Charles J. Walls in December 1937. In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her parents and two siblings. She is survived by three children, Charles, of Des Arc, Mary Kay White of St. Louis and Becky Webb of Sherwood; three grandchildren, Patrick White of Ogden, Utah, Chad Bowie of Sherwood and Andrew White of St. Louis, and three great-grandchildren. Mrs. Walls was laid to rest Tuesday, Aug. 21 at Lakeside Cemetery in Des Arc. The family requests that lasting memorials be made to the contributor’s favorite animal shelter or to the First United Methodist Church in Des Arc.

Dean Walls in the press room in 1954

ANF Executive Director Karen Brown announces September retirement

Serving as executive director of the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation (ANF) has never felt much like a job for Karen Brown, who will retire in September after 14 years in the role. “You fall in love with people who love what they do, and I absolutely have loved our newspapers and the people that comprise the newspapers. We have created relationships through outreach to the communities and staff at the newspapers, and it’s really been a dream job.”

ANF board members honored Brown after a recent foundation board meeting held at the APA headquarters in Little Rock.

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

Brown said she will continue working on a variety of projects, including serving on the board of the soon-to-be constructed history Continued on Page 3


August 23, 2018

Karen Brown Continued from page 2

museum in Bentonville, where she lives with her husband, Mike Brown, former president of Community Publishers, Inc. She also plans to work with the Northwest Arkansas Educational Service Co-op, providing professional development for teachers, and she said she has some projects planned with Mary Fisher, an ANF board member. She will remain committed to Newspaper in Education programs, she said, and foresees a bright future for the Foundation. “I think the direction the Foundation is going to take will be awesome and strong as it evolves,” she said. “I truly thank everyone for their support and ask them to keep supporting the foundation to make

Nat Lea recognized for nine years of service to APA

Nat Lea, left, president and CEO of WEHCO Media, Inc., visits with Byron Tate, publisher of the Sheridan Headlight and immediate past president of the Arkansas Press Association (APA). Lea, who was president of APA in 2016, was recently recognized by APA for nine years of service on the association’s board of directors.

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

it even greater. There is much opportunity to grow.” “Under Karen’s leadership, the Foundation expanded its programming across the state to ensure Arkansas students understood the value and importance of newspapers. This was accomplished through both the partnership with AT&T, which communicates the dangers of texting and driving, and with paid summer internships for college students at Arkansas newspapers. She also implemented programs allowing APA members to receive grants to attend conferences and training seminars. We are grateful for her dedicated service that largely benefitted our members,” said APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley.

Brown gives her best “Miss ANF” wave after a party celebrating her retirement.

On the road: APA visits the Eagle Democrat in Warren

APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley recently stopped by the Eagle Democrat in Warren to visit with Publisher Danny Cook and other members of the newspaper staff as they pasted up the next week’s news pages. Cook will hit his 50-year mark working in the newspaper industry this month.


August 23, 2018

Commerce department reduces newsprint tariffs

Industry Asks ITC to Remove Tariffs Altogether The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is expected to vote soon on whether to continue to impose additional tariffs on newsprint from Canada, after an Aug. 2 decision by the Department of Commerce to reduce tariff rates. The newspaper industry is calling on the ITC to eliminate the tariffs altogether. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced earlier this month a reduction in tariffs on newsprint from Canada, known as uncoated groundwood paper. The tariffs now range from 8.4 percent to 20.28 percent rather than 4.4 percent to 32 percent, according to the News Media Alliance. Despite the Commerce decision, the ITC may decide in an Aug. 29 vote to remove the additional duties if it determines that the

Canadian imports have caused material injury to U.S. products. In a statement, the News Media Alliance said that the Commerce Department’s “final determination does not solve the underlying problem. These taxes on Canadian imports for newsprint, which have been collected during the preliminary phase, have already caused job losses at newspapers across the country and resulted in less quality news and information being distributed to local communities.” An industry study submitted to the ITC said the additional tariffs could lead to an increase in American newsprint prices of more than 30 percent over the next couple years, representing an increased cost to publishers of about half a billion dollars from the five American mills that produce newsprint.

Arkansas newspapers join editorial effort; state’s largest paper does not At least 11 Arkansas newspapers used editorial space last week to rebuff recent attacks on journalism and respond to concerns about a free and fair press. Among those joining a nationwide, coordinated effort were: the Jonesboro Sun,  the Times Record of Fort Smith, the Log Cabin Democrat of Conway, the Batesville

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Daily Guard, the El Dorado News-Times,  the  Lonoke County Democrat,  the  Madison County Record,  the  North Little Rock Times  and the Van Buren County Democrat. The Daily Citizen of Searcy and the  Saline Courier both printed columns from syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer noting that the press is not the enemy of the people.

on the press. The Arkansas papers were among more than 350 newspapers that participated.

The editorials followed a request from the Boston Globe, which asked newspapers across the country to publish editorials in response to verbal attacks

Among the publications that chose not to participate was the Arkansas DemocratGazette,  the state’s largest newspaper. That paper wrote in an Aug. 17 editorial that the effort could allow detractors to “claim the media is in collusion for some specific purpose. And in this case, it certainly was. The next time the president takes to Twitter to whine about press coverage, he has only to mention this latest editorial effort.”

Industry Quote of the Week

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– Henry Ward Beecher 4

@ArkansasPressAssociation @ARPressAssoc

August 23, 2018

Gazette reporter during Little Rock Central crisis dies by Bill Bowden

Jerry Dhonau, whose reporting at Little Rock’s Central High School during the school desegregation crisis in 1957 helped the Arkansas Gazette win a Pulitzer Prize, died Friday in Albuquerque, N.M., said his daughter Stephanie Dhonau of Little Rock. Dhonau was 83. His daughter said he died of natural causes. He had been ill off and on since March. As one of the youngest reporters at the  Gazette in 1957, Dhonau stayed at the school every day for a couple of months and “recorded the events that attracted world attention and created the greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War,” wrote Ernie Dumas, a colleague of Dhonau’s, in an obituary submitted to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Eventually, President Dwight Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent the 101st Airborne Division to the school to ensure that it was desegregated. Dhonau and another young reporter, Ray Moseley, were responsible for most of the  Gazette’s coverage of the events at Central High School and at the state Capitol during that period, wrote Dumas. The  Gazette won two Pulitzer Prizes that year, one for editorials on the school crisis and one for exceptional community service. Dhonau’s face appears in a few of the iconic photographs of the period. When Elizabeth Eckford, one of the nine students who were to desegregate Central High School, arrived for school on Sept. 4, 1957, she was met by an angry mob and armed National Guardsmen, said Park Ranger Jodi Morris at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. Eckford was the first black student to arrive, and she walked through the jeering crowd two blocks to a bench at 16th and Park streets, Morris said. Several




joined her along the way, then stood around her as she sat on the bench, forming a barrier of sorts between Eckford and the crowd, said Morris.

he told Dumas. “We could hear the lions at the zoo at night. You didn’t have air conditioning, so you had to leave the windows up.”

“She walked up to the corner of 14th and Park, and there was no way for her to cross the National Guard line,” Dhonau told Dumas in an interview in 2000.

Dhonau attended Little Rock High School, later renamed Central High School, where he was co-editor of the student newspaper. He resigned in 1952 because the journalism teacher wouldn’t publish a column he wrote advocating for a new field house to be named for Riley Johns, a black athletic trainer, groundskeeper and equipment manager for the school’s sports teams.

So Eckford walked south on Park Street, which borders the front of the school. “Every once in a while, she’d turn to her right as if she could go on in the school,” Dhonau told Dumas. “Each time, they’d close ranks. She just kept going. It wasn’t very far down the line where the hecklers started. I was walking along with her, but off to the side so I wouldn’t be part of it.” Eckford walked to the bench at 16th and Park and sat down. The crowd was getting “even rougher and shouting,” Dhonau told Dumas. “This was just outrageous,” said Dhonau. “Several of us cared for her safety as she was waiting for that bus. There was a woman, a white woman, who came up and sat down with her. Her name was Grace Lorch. As they were sitting on the bench, the hecklers weren’t relenting. So several reporters, including me, gathered around them, which formed a little bit of a shield. ... Eventually, the bus came and she got on the bus and left.” Stephanie Dhonau said it was a significant moment in her father’s career. “He didn’t question whether he should do that or not,” she said. “He just did it. He said that was the one time in his journalism life when he lost objectivity. He just couldn’t stand to see her walking by herself among this mob, this angry crowd.” Born Sept. 20, 1934, at Little Rock, Jerry Franklin Dhonau grew up near Traveler Field, later renamed Ray Winder Field, which was home to the Arkansas Travelers baseball team. “We could hear the crowds all the time,”

Johns “was a father figure to some of the athletes there, and I got to know him pretty well,” Dhonau told Dumas in 2000. “One year, I was student manager [for the football team], so that’s how I got to know him.” Dhonau went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and a master’s from Columbia University in New York City. As a young man, Dhonau covered sports for the Gazette and later news. In 1965, he became an editorial writer for the Gazette and continued in that job until the newspaper closed in 1991. Dhonau wrote the Gazette’s farewell editorial. After the Gazette  closed, Dhonau briefly wrote a weekly column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before taking a job as an editorial writer and editor for the  Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida. He taught journalism at the University of South Florida and Stetson University. He also taught journalism for short periods at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Central Arkansas. In his later years, Dhonau and his wife, Joyce, split their time between residences in Albuquerque and Little Rock. Copyright 2018 Arkansas DemocratGazette. Reprinted with permission.

...He said that was the one time in his journalism life when he lost objectivity. He just couldn’t stand to see (Eckford) walking by herself among this mob, this angry crowd.” - Stephanie Dhonau, daughter of the late Jerry Dhonau Arkansas Publisher Weekly


August 23, 2018

Guest Column: How Do We Stop Newspapers From Fading Into Obscurity? By Tim Gallagher, President of The 20/20 Network, former Editor/publisher The Albuquerque Tribune and Ventura County Star At a popular retail corner in the city closest to where I live, once sat a Blockbuster video store. High Noon in the little town of Camarillo, Calif., came the day Hollywood Video leased the storefront directly across the street. Each Friday my wife and I faced the existential question: Which store was more likely to have the new release movie we wanted to rent? Blockbuster and Hollywood Video are no more, and we no longer worry about when or how we are going to see that new release. We will stream it on any one of several services. The content aspect of the movie business has not changed one bit. In fact, it has multiplied in size—more companies than ever (big ones to tiny independents) are making content that they can deliver to us. All the industry has done is eliminate the cost of making the VHS cassettes, then CDs, then DVDs, then Blu-Ray. There is a lesson for us in the newspaper business. We make great content. And while we used to think the big newspaper down the road was the competition, or the free weekly—we were wrong. All along, the competition has been ourselves and our inextricable tether to the cost structure of printing presses and delivery systems. We could afford that cost when we owned 40 percent to 60 percent of the advertising market. It cannot be supported when we own 10 percent of the market and digital gets nearly 40 percent, according to the global management consulting firm McKinsey.

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Netflix came along to challenge Blockbuster. It offered home delivery of the DVDs (even if you had to wait your turn). Blockbuster tried to compete until Netflix got rid of delivery cost. It streamed those movies. No waiting. There are industries that “got it.” Industries that understood technology would consume their model and they had better get used to it. Netflix learned to create content in addition to delivering it. Around 2005 at the Newspaper Association of America (now the News Media Alliance) convention, an executive at Pac Bell shared they were already planning to abandon their home telephone business and instead were focusing 100 percent on delivering data digitally. (Now this was 2005; YouTube had just been launched.) Many of the publishers were puzzled but PacBell had it right. It recognized that its business was delivering content—be it in voice, which was fading, or in data, which was just starting to rise. The road is littered with industries that did not get it. Knitting mills. Directory businesses such as the Yellow Pages. The savings and loan industry. Recording studios. But for every 10 of those that die, there is one that succeeds by shifting away from its roots. (Consider that Ray Kroc never became a billionaire until he stopped worrying about hamburgers and started leasing real estate.) Kenneth Lerer, the co-founder of Huffington Post and chairman of BuzzFeed, is one of those who’ve said of media leaders, “You have to fix the plane while you’re flying it.”


Notice something. He did not say “fix the airline industry.” He said “fix the plane.” The newspaper industry is not a monolith. Within the business, there are so many models, and some will fail. I am not the first to claim that the Digital First model of cutting your way to profitability is not going to work, except that it will make some executives very rich and newspaper people very unemployed. You cannot make your product more desirable by making less of it unless you have a corner on the market—and we don’t. There are ways to fix this. The newspapers that succeed will accept lower profit margins; will shed legacy costs in favor of technology; will focus on building richer and deeper content from journalists who are studious, fair and inventive; and will hire advertising people who sell deep relationships with audiences. Their human resource departments will not oversee employment law compliance; they will seek and hire the smartest and best. The question is whether you will fly straight into the ground with the airline industry that could not fix itself or be the engineers who fixed your plane. Remember the old saw: “What got you here, will not get you there.” Tim Gallagher is president of The 20/20 Network, a public relations and strategic communications firm. He is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and publisher at The Albuquerque Tribune and the Ventura County Star newspapers. Reach him at tim@the2020network.com.

August 23, 2018

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: August 23, 2018  

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

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: August 23, 2018  

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