One week remaining to apply for ArkLaMiss Conference grants FOIA Coalition will fight to protect law during session
Vol. 13 | No. 42 | Thursday, October 18, 2018
Serving Press and State Since 1873
Fry says goodbye to sixdecade newspaper career Vickie Jones turned down dozens of interview requests in September 2011 after she was shot when a gunman entered her Crawford County Courthouse office. There was only one person Jones trusted enough to share her story, the same reporter and family friend who had served Crawford County and Van Buren for years.
“I knew Kenneth Fry personally and I knew he would tell the truth,” Jones said this week, days before Fry’s retirement as editor of Van Buren’s Press Argus-Courier. “I knew right off he would want to tell my story.” Fry marks the courthouse shooting incident as one of the pivotal news events he covered during a journalism career that started in 1966. The weekly paper was already in
the mailroom waiting to be delivered when Fry heard that a gunman had opened fire on courthouse employees. He made the decision to “chunk” the old papers and build another one from scratch. “And Vickie Jones would only talk to me,” he said. Fry attributed the scoop to his love for Van Buren and Crawford County, and to his commitment to dogged coverage of the community. Jones agreed. “He is everywhere,” she said. “At every function you see, he’s there taking pictures. He has a sincere heart for the community and he’s going to be missed.” Fry is a native of Van Buren who attended Continued on Page 2
Southwest Arkansas start-ups look to fill void left by recent newspaper closures Starting a newspaper shouldn’t have been so easy for lifelong radio man, thinks Mark Keith of Hope. Keith, along with
co-publisher Wendell Hoover, stepped in to launch a newspaper in southwest Arkansas after GateHouse Media shuttered the Hope Star, Arkadelphia Siftings Herald, and Nevada County Picayune last month. The fact this has been such a quick success only reinforces his belief that newspapers are here to stay. Keith spent his career in commercial radio. He’s worked for nonprofits and has his own low-power FM station based in Hope. Hoover owns an online news site, HopePrescott.
com, which was operating out of space in Keith’s antique and furniture store downtown. When the papers closed, Keith said he went to Hoover with a proposition. Keith sells ads, Hoover writes copy, and all they needed was someone to lay out the paper. Once they hired that position, they were ready to produce the product. The Hope-Prescott News launched with its first press run of 1,000 copies on Oct. 4, and they went so fast that the publishers added an additional 200 papers with their Oct. 11 edition. Continued on Page 3
Kenneth Fry Continued from page 1
high school in that city and went to work on the copy desk of the Times Record in neighboring Fort Smith a few days after his graduation in 1966. Fry’s father was news editor of the Times Record at that time. Fry asked his dad if he could take a week off between graduation and his first day of work. “He said, ‘No, you can have a day,’” Fry said. In 1973, Fry was named news editor of the afternoon edition of the Times Record until the afternoon paper was scrapped in 1980. He was then news editor of the morning paper until 1989. He took a three-year hiatus from the news business before the then-publisher of the Press Argus-Courier convinced him to take on the editor job at that publication in 1992. He’s been editor ever since. “There’s just a lot of responsibility, and though it’s changed over time, there has always been, even when I was younger. The hours were long and there were weekends and nights,” Fry said. “And now that I’m older, I’d just rather be doing things with my family and friends. I have mixed feelings about retiring, but it’s just time for the next chapter.” Fry and his wife, Sandy, have a place on
Lake Tenkiller in eastern Oklahoma, not too far from Crawford County. They plan to spend much more time on the lake, affording Fry a greater opportunity to take photos of sunrises and sunsets. He said the newspaper grind had become more of a struggle as he’d gotten older, but he’s discouraged by the consistent downsizing and cutbacks in most newsrooms over the past decade. Fry recognizes he doesn’t have a solution, either, but he noted the difficulties in putting out a paper now that the Press Argus only has four full-time employees compared to the 34 when he started. “I believe newspapers offer the best journalism, but because of cutbacks it’s often hard to live up to those standards,” he said. “That’s the hardest thing for me. So much responsibility is on my shoulders that sometimes I don’t feel like I can do the job that I want to do and have been able to do in the past.” It’s a job that Van Buren and Crawford County residents continue to expect to be done well, he said. And he’s confident that the Press Argus -Courier will be able to keep reporting the news because his friends and neighbors are so passionate about their community.
“This community is very close, and people are interested because of how close-knit the community is,” he said. “There are family and friends who are the mayors and city councils and serve on the school boards. Parents with students in the school districts are concerned about how the districts operate.”
One week remaining to apply for ArkLaMiss Conference grants The annual ArkLaMiss Circulation, Marketing and Audience Development Conference is scheduled for Nov. 8-9 in Vicksburg, Miss., and newspapers must apply now for available Arkansas Newspaper Foundation grants.
The grant deadline is Thursday, Oct. 25. Four continuing education grants of $200 each are available to Arkansas Press Association members to help cover registration and hotel costs. Preference is given to first-time participants. Each media organization is eligible for only one grant. If not all grants are awarded based on those criteria, awards will be made based on the order that applications are received. To apply, visit ArkansasPress. org. Applications should be emailed to Terri Cobb at email@example.com. For more information about the grant application, email Terri or call her at (501) 374-1500. Arkansas Publisher Weekly
In addition to the grants deadline, the deadline for reserving a hotel room at the special conference rate is Oct. 24. To book a hotel room for the conference at the Ameristar Hotel and Casino in Vicksburg, call (601) 638-1000 and use the group code SARKLA8. The special conference rate is $74 per night.
Creative House Print Consultants. Wagner is the publisher and founder of the N’West Iowa REVIEW and he will offer practical tips on building circulation, revenue growth and leveraging a newspaper’s public image and its community relationships.
Dennis Dunn, circulation director for the Anniston (Ala.) Star, The annual conference will moderate the popular is hosted by the APA “Hot Ideas” breakfast. and its counterparts Attendees during in Louisiana and Circulation & Marketing Conference the breakfast event Mississippi. It’s will share their best designed to help revenue-generating and publishers, general cost-saving tips. managers, circulation The conference opens directors and audience at 9 a.m. on Thursday, d e v e l o p m e n t Nov. 8, with a roundtable professionals learn the for publishers, editors and best ideas for generating new key newspaper personnel readership and revenues. to discuss revenue, expenses, special
Featured speaker will be Peter Wagner of 2
promotions and management tips.
October 18, 2018
Southwest Arkansas start-ups Continued from page 1
Keith’s main catalyst for word-of-mouth about the new product? Social media. “I thought it was interesting that we promoted a traditional media outlet on social media, and that has driven a very good response for a small newspaper run by two people with no newspaper experience,” Keith said. He’s only had minor hiccups so far, such as failing to include the masthead in the paper’s first edition. “We’re green. So green,” he said. “We forgot to put a publisher’s block in the first edition, so people didn’t know how to get hold of us. We didn’t know any better!” Rick Kennedy, former editor of the Hope Star, oversaw the official launch of SWArk.Today on Sept. 15, the day after the papers folded. Like Keith and Hoover, he and a group of investors also saw opportunity in the demise of the area’s legacy papers. Kennedy and the paper’s former advertising sale rep, Bren Yocom, are the site’s main employees. Kennedy said his site was established because otherwise the entire region would be a news and advertising desert. The closest daily newspaper, the Texarkana Gazette, is 37 miles away and focuses much more on that city and Miller County. “We’re underserved down here,” Kennedy said. “With GateHouse basically abandoning the market, there was a need for something that represented professional journalism. We needed to have a news source that covered stories and issues and local topics.”
Kennedy said the site features daily updated news and will soon offer additional video and live streaming components. S W A r k . To d a y already broadcasts high school football games, and they plan to expand to include local government meetings and community events like Christmas parades. Pictured are Co-Publishers Wendell Hoover and Mark Keith and Circulation Manager Amy Sweat of the Hope Prescott News.
SWArk.Today has more than 1,100 likes on Facebook, and online traffic has grown steadily as well. His investor group is considering a complementary print product, Kennedy said. “We’re actually doing a feasibility study,” he said. “Both Hempstead and Nevada counties are underserved.”
Mark Keith says the Hope-Prescott News is serving members of the community who refuse Internet or, for whatever reason, don’t have online access. “I’ve always estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the population in this part of Arkansas aren’t online or don’t want to be,” he said. “The Hope Star was their news source, and there was a collective wailing and gnashing of teeth when it went out of business.”
His circulation plan involves distributing free newspapers every Wednesday afternoon within Hope and Prescott and to surrounding communities. On each run so far, Keith says business owners have asked for more copies. Additionally, the paper has sold about 200 subscriptions at $50 annually, a statistic that’s both baffling and impressive to Keith as he initially wondered why people would subscribe to a product that’s distributed for free. “We’ve been stunned by the response,” he said. “The most important thing is to offer a service to people. They felt so disenfranchised when the Hope Star went away. If nobody started a newspaper, then the history of Hope would have essentially ended on Sept. 14 when the Hope Star ended. Nobody saves online stuff. Nobody saves radio. Saving history without a newspaper is almost impossible.”
Upcoming webinars focus on design, writing, advertising Three upcoming professional development opportunities available for Arkansas Press Association members focus on newspaper redesign, writing and advertising.
a redesign, with discussions of layouts, styles, fonts, graphics, placement and how to attract readers. The hour-long webinar costs $39 and starts at 10 a.m. on Oct. 25.
On Oct. 25, noted expert Ed Henninger will host the webinar, “10 Most Important Steps When Planning Your Newspaper R e d e s i g n . ” Henninger’s website promises to assist newspapers planning
John Hatcher, a master writing coach, offers an hour webinar on Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. Hatcher will advise reporters on how to gather the facts they need to write a story that truly conveys a scene. He will share ideas, tips and story examples. Cost is $39.
Arkansas Publisher Weekly
On Nov. 6, Tim Smith offers an hourlong session on the “10 Most Important Things 3
cost is $49.
to Plan Before Visiting a New Advertiser.” Smith presented a similar webinar in September to rave reviews from ad representatives who attended. The webinar starts at 10 a.m. that day and the
To register for any or all of the webinars, or for more information, visit www. NewspaperAcademy.com. October 18, 2018
FOIA Coalition will fight to protect law during session Arkansas Press Association (APA) members with an interest in preserving and strengthening the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are encouraged to be a part of the Freedom of Information Act Coalition, which will convene soon ahead of the start of the 92nd General Assembly. “This year, the coalition has been grateful for the work of the legislatively created
FOIA Task Force, which will present its findings to the Legislature soon,” said Ashley Wimberley, APA executive director. “Our goal as the FOIA Coalition is to ensure our open-records and openmeetings law remains one of the strongest in the country. We encourage members with interest in safeguarding this law to join us as we protect our communities and preserve the public’s right to know.”
During legislative sessions, the Arkansas FOIA Coalition acts to evaluate pending legislation and take positions for or against pending bills that impact the FOIA. FOIA Coalition meetings are held in Little Rock at APA headquarters. For members who are interested in joining the coalition, contact Wimberley at (501) 374-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
APA members celebrate National Newspaper Week
Arkansas publications recognized National Newspaper Week from Oct. 7-13, marking the 78th annual observance with house ads, editorial content and even a mayoral proclamation.
Harrison banker Scott Tennyson explained that the paper gives him a means to reach out to customers and prospects to offer them congratulations on their accomplishments.
In Mena, Mayor George McKee issued a formal proclamation declaring National Newspaper Week in that city. The Mena Star ran a photo of the mayor and Star publisher Tom Byrd in its Oct. 10 edition, and the publisher wrote a front-page message to readers about the importance of community newspapers.
Fred Woehl, a farmer and Boone County justice of the peace, noted: “Having read the Harrison Daily Times for well over 30
More than a dozen newspapers published the house ad produced and distributed free of charge to Arkansas Press Association (APA) members.
“At their best, community newspapers have always been about commitment and caring about a community and trying to make a difference in the quality of life,” Byrd said. In Harrison, the Daily Times committed a third of its Oct. 11 front page to comments from community members on the theme of National Newspaper Week: “Journalism Matters, Now More than Ever.” Carolyn Arnold, a Harrison real estate agent, noted that the newspaper allows her to be able to catch up with the news of a community whenever she wanted to, “over a cup of coffee in the morning and sometimes late in the evening as I wind down my day. We are truly blessed to have a local paper!”
Arkansas Publisher Weekly
“Residents in even the smallest communities need a watchdog to help monitor how officials conduct the public’s business. They also benefit from journalism chronicling each local government meeting, consideration of a new jail or an extensive city sewer system upgrade, highs and lows of youth sports teams and countless features about relatives, friends and neighbors.”
years, I know the information I am reading is factual, the whole truth as it is know at the time of reporting and without political or personal bias. In my opinion, we are fortunate to have the Harrison Daily Times and their staff in our area.” The Stone County Leader stood out with three pages of coverage of the week. That newspaper featured editorial pieces, guest columns, house ads and editorial cartoons. The paper’s editorial noted how essential the newspaper’s watchdog role is, especially in smaller communities.
The APA also supports and is a member of Newspaper Association Managers (NAM), the sponsor of National Newspaper Week which makes resources and a “content kit” available to publications. “Through our partnership with NAM and our efforts to assist our member publications in their observance of National Newspaper Week, we are glad to be of service as newspapers remind their readers about the importance of good, community journalism,” said Ashley Wimberley, APA executive director. “Though the week has ended, it remains vital that we continue to let our friends and neighbors know about vital our industry is to our communities and our nation.”
October 18, 2018
Uploading public notices helps newspapers fend off legislative threats
The Arkansas Press Association (APA) recognizes 59 member newspapers now uploading public notices to the APA website, www.pupblicnoticeads.com/ar. Uploading notices to the easily accessible and free site is one of the industry’s most important ways to combat repeated efforts to strip newspapers of public notice revenue. With the legislative session set to start in January, it’s anticipated that, like in most other sessions of the Arkansas General Assembly, a legislator will propose one or more bills to remove public notices from newspapers and allow them to be posted on a government website. The best defense for member publications is to demonstrate that public notices are already posted online on the APA website at no cost to the government. “Uploading public notices is a very simple step for newspapers that could pay off with the long-term benefit of ensuring that our members maintain the ability to publish public notices under state law,” said Ashley Wimberley, APA executive director. “We greatly appreciate those members who already publish their notices online, and as we get closer to this year’s legislative session we encourage more members to do the same.” A special thanks from the APA to these
59 newspapers for uploading of public notices:
Advance Monticellonian (Monticello) Arkansas Business (Little Rock) Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock) Ashley County Ledger (Hamburg) Ashley News Observer (Crossett) Banner News (Magnolia) Batesville Daily Guard Beebe News Booneville Democrat Camden News Carroll County News (Midweek) Carroll County News (Weekend) Charleston Express Chicot County Spectator Clay County Courier (Corning) Clay County Times Democrat Cleveland County Herald (Rison) Charleston Express The Courier (Russellville) Daily Citizen (Searcy) DeQueen Bee Dumas Clarion Eagle Democrat (Warren) El Dorado News Times Eudora Enterprise Glenwood Herald Greenwood Democrat Hot Springs Village Voice Johnson County Graphic (Clarksville) Madison County Record (Huntsville) Malvern Daily Record
Melbourne Times Mena Star Murfreesboro Diamond Nashville News-Leader Newport Independent Newton County Times (Jasper) Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Fayetteville) Ozark Spectator Paragould Daily Press Paris Express Pine Bluff Commercial Pocahontas Star Herald Poinsett County Democrat (Trumann) Press Argus Courier (Van Buren) Salem News Saline Courier (Benton) Sheridan Headlight Stone County Leader (Mountain View) The Sun (Jonesboro) The Daily Record (Little Rock) The Times Dispatch (Walnut Ridge) Times Record (Fort Smith) Times Herald (Forrest City) Town Crier (Manila) Van Buren County Democrat (Clinton) Villager Journal (Cherokee Village) Waldron News Wynne Progress Contact Tracy McGraw at tearsheets@ arkansaspress.org or call the APA office at 501-374-1500 for help in uploading the notices.
Industry Quote of the Week “I think journalism anywhere should be based on social justice and impartiality, making contributions to society as well as taking responsibility in society. Whether you are capitalist or socialist or Marxist, journalists should have the same professional integrity.” – Tan Hongkai Arkansas Publisher Weekly
October 18, 2018
Business of News: Newspapers Should Invest More in First Amendment Battles By Tim Gallagher
Coming of age as a reporter in the postWatergate era there were several things the old-timers did not like about us kids: we had never used a linotype machine, we drank water not whiskey, and we each knew how to send a Freedom of Information Act letter demanding documents from the government. Woodward and Bernstein had inspired us, and we were ready to fight the government for access to records at every step. Unfortunately, the financial fire consuming daily newspaper journalism has consumed profits, jobs, and our resolve to fight toothand-nail to preserve our First Amendment rights. Fortunately, some innovators, including the First Amendment Coalition in San Rafael, Calif., are developing possible solutions so that the journalists’ zeal for public access cases doesn’t die when the profits sink. It is easy to understand why newspapers won’t risk thousands of dollars in a legal battle at the same time they are deciding how many employees will be employed next week. A 2016 study released by the Knight Foundation in cooperation with a number of large news organizations showed editors believe they are losing confidence in their ability to remain a champion of First Amendment and access cases. They simply don’t have the money to fight these cases. In an age where technology allows government officials to bury information and to conduct public business by text message, these access cases have never been more important. But who has the money to pay the lawyers to fight them? One solution might be to imitate the First Amendment Fellowship program started by the FAC in California. Glen A. Smith, who has been battling First Amendment cases for 30 years, is the first of these Arkansas Publisher Weekly
Legal Fellows at the FAC. I met Glen early in the 2000s when our newspaper demanded workers compensation records from the local sheriff’s department. When Smith got us the records, we reported that dozens of deputies routinely developed injuries covered by workers compensation just months before they hit retirement age. Their rehabilitation from these injuries usually took several years at which time they would return to work and then retire—at a pension much higher than the one they would have received before the injury. I don’t recall what we spent on that battle, but it was worth it. Smith acknowledged that the FAC Fellowship is “at most, the classic finger in the dike. We can try to fill the gap, but let’s face it, newspapers are not spending money on these cases as they used to.”
When you fail to fulfill the watchdog role your value to the readers declines. It contributes to the downward spiral of the industry. Government officials can hide records. Courtrooms can be closed to public access. Lawmakers can discuss how they plan to vote with other lawmakers all by text message using an app called “Confide” that erases messages after they are read. And if the press is not asking for these records to be unsealed, these courtrooms to be open, these messages 6
to be made public, then government officials can do as they please. To some extent, Smith said, the legal profession is to blame. The legal bills were far too daunting. When a reporter on our 35,000-circulation paper in Albuquerque, N.M. won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, our legal bill in 1993 dollars was $125,000. Had we not been part of a large media company, I am not sure we could have afforded the bill. The best hope for a revival of first amendment battles is a benevolent model by large non-profit, public interest groups: ProPublica, Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, The American Civil Liberties Union, First Amendment centers attached to large law schools, and the fellow ship program at FAC. Some have started down this road. And a handful of large news organizations still fight access cases, although not as often as they did before. Smith believes that the fellowship is in many ways like a start-up public advocacy group that received its first round of venture capital funding. To get more, it needs to show impact. If it wins some prominent cases, more dollars can flow into these centers. There are wealthy citizens who understand the need to fight these fights. And the remaining newspaper companies must hold firm to their obligations as the Fourth Estate. Access and First Amendment battles are too important to this democracy to be slain by declining profits. 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 email@example.com. October 18, 2018
The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...
Published on Oct 19, 2018
The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...