Arkansas Press Women

Founded in 1949, Arkansas Press Women (APW), initially called the Arkansas Newspaper Women’s Association, is a nonprofit professional association open to both men and women pursuing careers in communications. Among those eligible for membership are people in the fields of business, education, government, journalism, and public information. Membership is open to those who communicate in a variety of areas, including broadcasting and electronic media as well as print. Their common thread is a commitment to the rights expressed in the First Amendment, particularly freedom of the press. Within the APW organization, there are professional, retired, and student membership categories.

The twenty-six women who were founding members of the organization were interested in promoting professionalism among journalists. APW’s founders and early leaders included Roberta Fulbright of Fayetteville (Washington County), Betty Magie of Cabot (Lonoke County), Maudine Sanders of Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), and Charlotte Schexnayder of Dumas (Desha County). From its beginning, APW has had strong ties to the Arkansas Press Association (APA)—of which Schnexnayder was also the first female president—and continues to work with APA to promote professionalism as well as championing open records and open meetings.

Soon after its founding, APW became an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW). Several members of Arkansas Press Women have served in NFPW leadership roles, with Schexnayder serving as national president. By affiliating with NFPW, the APW organization has access to educational programs, recognitions, competitions, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities on a national scale. APW has adopted the code of ethics established by the national organization. Tenets include members supporting each other through professional development, recognition, and competition; networking within the association and through related organizations; and recognizing other members’ successes and achievements. Within APW is a separate associate membership level that allows membership at the state level only, rather than including eligibility for national-level programs.

APW awards an annual scholarship to a male or female undergraduate college student. Eligible applicants who are planning a career in communications or journalism must attend an Arkansas college or university and must be entering their junior or senior year. APW resources for students include listings of job opportunities in the communications field and upcoming professional development opportunities.

APW members come from all around the state. The officers include the positions of president, first and second vice president, secretary, treasurer, historian, and parliamentarian. There are also district directors from the northeastern, northwestern, southeastern, southwestern, and central portions of the state, as well as an at-large district director. APW committees and projects include the areas of Freedom of Information (FOI), high school contest, Communicator of Achievement committee, professional contest, newsletter editor, public relations/webmaster, and scholarship committee. APW sponsors an annual “Celebrating Excellence” luncheon when it awards the Maudine Sanders Scholarship to a professional seeking additional education in the field of journalism.

For additional information:
Arkansas Press Women. (accessed November 18 20, 2020).

Dougan, Michael B. Community Diaries: Arkansas Newspapering, 1819–2002. Little Rock: August House, 2003.

Schexnayder, Charlotte Tillar. Salty Old Editor: An Adventure in Ink. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2012.

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society


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