Daily Record (Little Rock) [Newspaper]

The Daily Record is the only daily newspaper in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that focuses primarily on business, real estate, and legal news. The Daily Record was established around 1953 by longtime newspaperman John F. Wells, who founded many other publications prior to his death in 1987. The Daily Record was then purchased on August 25, 1987, by a group of local investors known collectively as the Business Information Group. In 1990, the Daily Record began printing the Bulletin, the official newsletter of the Pulaski County Bar Association.

A Little Rock native, John Fenton Wells was born on July 22, 1902. He graduated from what is now Central High School in Little Rock and then the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1925. Wells worked for the Arkansas Gazette from 1930 to 1936 as a reporter and city editor. In 1937, Carl Bailey became governor of Arkansas, and Wells joined Bailey’s staff as his executive secretary. By 1941, Wells was publishing a small paper at Camp Robinson and the Daily Legislative Digest, a summary of legislative news printed only during legislative sessions. In 1949, Wells founded the Arkansas Recorder.

In 1953, Wells took over editorial control of another publication called the Daily Legal News. After a legal squabble with Governor Orval Faubus, Wells lost the state’s patronage of his Legislative Digest in 1958. The same year, the Arkansas Printing and Lithographing Company merged with Wells’s publishing company to form the General Publishing Company, Inc. Wells was elected its first president. The company published a number of small newspapers at the time, including the Arkansas Baptist, the Little Rock Air Force Base’s Air Scoop, the Arkansas Union Labor Bulletin, the Daily Record, and the Arkansas Recorder. In 1959, Wells sold the Recorder to state representative J. H. Cottrell Jr.

In 1985, Wells sold the publishing rights to his Legislative Digest to Roger Potts, one of his business associates. Wells reportedly had already sold the rights to another publication he owned, the Arkansas Supreme Court Advance Sheets, to Darby Printing Company of Atlanta, Georgia. The Arkansas Gazette reported on February 26, 1987, that Wells had died “in a one car accident” in the 2200 block of Cantrell Road in Little Rock. Later that year, on August 25, 1987, the Daily Record was sold to a group of investors known collectively as the Business Information Group. The first editor for the paper following this purchase was Douglas Blackmon, who would later leave the state and go on to write a Pulitzer Prize–winning book; the second editor was Mark K. Christ. On September 6, 1990, the Daily Record announced that it was celebrating its thirty-eighth year in publication, putting its creation around 1953, when Wells took over the Daily Legal News. Days later, William F. Rector Jr., then publisher of the Daily Record, said that it would begin publishing the official newsletter of the Pulaski County Bar Association, the Bulletin, in the Daily Record on Fridays.

The Daily Record continues to print “Serving Central Arkansas since 1925,” the year John F. Wells began his career, on every issue. By 2020, the Daily Record was printing more than 8,500 issues weekly.

For additional information:
“Daily Record Begins 38th Year.” Daily Record, September 6, 1990, p. 14.

“Daily Record, Pulaski Bar Announce Joint Effort.” Daily Record, August 31, 1990, p. 14.

Fletcher, John L. “Another Publishing Venture Launched By Printing Firms.” Arkansas Gazette, January 5, 1958, p. 19.

John F. Wells Papers. Special Collections. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Finding aid online at https://libraries.uark.edu/specialcollections/findingaids/ead/transform.php?xml=mc791 (accessed August 15, 2020).

“Publisher John F. Wells Dies in LR Car Accident.” Arkansas Gazette, February 26, 1987, p. 17.

“Wells Sells Recorder to Cottrell.” Arkansas Gazette, October 11, 1959, p. 10.

Cody Lynn Berry
Benton, Arkansas

Last Updated: 08/15/2020

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