Editors and Publishers

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Entry Category: Editors and Publishers

Allsopp, Fred

Frederick William Allsopp was a newspaperman, book collector, and bookstore owner who was an important player in the history of the Arkansas Gazette. Though he never held the title of editor or publisher, he shaped the development of the Gazette—and of Arkansas newspapers at large—for the duration of his career. Fred W. Allsopp was born on June 25, 1867, in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. When he was twelve, his family moved to Prescott (Nevada County). Shortly thereafter, he entered the “newspaper business” by selling newspapers. In 1884, he worked for thirteen weeks setting type and working in the printing department of the Nevada County Picayune. He did not receive any pay, but he gained invaluable experience. With dreams of someday becoming …

Ashmore, Harry Scott

Harry Scott Ashmore was the executive editor of the Arkansas Gazette during the 1957 desegregation crisis at Little Rock’s Central High School and wrote a series of Pulitzer Prize–winning editorials on the subject. His front-page calls for reason thrust him into the front lines of the escalating battle between civil rights and states’ rights. Harry Ashmore was born on July 28, 1916, in Greenville, South Carolina, to William Green Ashmore and Nancy Elizabeth Scott. He was the younger of two sons. Ashmore’s father owned part interest in a shoe store in Greenville. The family lived a comfortable middle-class life until the early 1930s, when William Ashmore’s declining health, coupled with the Depression, left the family in relative poverty. Ashmore attended …

Bates, Lucious Christopher

Lucious Christopher Bates was the founder of the Arkansas State Press newspaper. Under his direction, the State Press, published in Little Rock (Pulaski County), waged a weekly statewide battle against the constraints of the Jim Crow era of segregation until the paper’s demise in 1959. Bates was a member of the executive committee of the Little Rock chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and, along with his wife Daisy, helped lead the fight that resulted in the admittance of the first nine black students to Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. Born in Liberty, Mississippi, in 1904, L. C. Bates was the only child of Laura and Morris Bates, a farmer, carpenter and …

Bindursky, Esther

Esther Bindursky, editor of the weekly Lepanto News Record for thirty-four years, was an award-winning journalist and photographer known for her perceptive feature and column writing, newsworthy pictures, and selfless community service. Esther Bindursky was born on January 28, 1904, in Drew, Mississippi. Her father, Meyer Bindursky, born in Bessarabia (which was divided between Moldova and Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union), was a merchant, and her mother, Minnie Iskiwitch, a native of Poland, was a homemaker. Bindursky had three brothers. Shortly after her graduation from high school in 1922, she moved with her parents to Lepanto (Poinsett County). As a young woman, she played the piano for silent movies in the Lepanto movie theater. When the devastating …

Bogard, Benjamin Marcus

Benjamin Marcus Bogard, founder and head of the American Baptist Association, was Arkansas’s leading fundamentalist Christian in the 1920s. In 1928, his efforts resulted in a law banning the teaching of evolution in Arkansas public schools; it remained in place until 1968, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it. Bogard was born on March 9, 1868, in Hardin County, Kentucky. He was the only son of tobacco tenant farmers M. L. and Nancy Bogard; the couple also had five daughters. In 1873, the Bogards moved to Caseyville, Kentucky, where Bogard attended school, Woodland Baptist Church, and evangelical camp meetings. In February 1885, he was baptized in an ice-covered pond during a church service. In 1887 and 1888, he attended Georgetown …

Brown, Helen Marie Gurley

Helen Gurley Brown was a native Arkansan whose career includes landmark achievements in advertising and publishing. She was considered a spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement and sexual revolution in the mid-twentieth century as author of the bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl (1962) and editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Helen Marie Gurley was born on February 18, 1922, in Green Forest (Carroll County) to a family of modest means. Her father, Ira Gurley, finished law school in 1923 and was soon elected a state legislator. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and settled in the Pulaski Heights neighborhood. In 1932, as her father was preparing to run for Arkansas secretary of state, he was killed in an elevator …

Clark, William Allen

William Allen Clark was one of Arkansas’s “preacher-editors.” For nearly fifteen years, he occupied the editorial chair of one of Arkansas’s largest denominational newspapers, the old Arkansas Baptist, and was a pivotal figure in the Landmark Baptist movement within the state. W. A. Clark was born on May 24, 1844, near Rossville, Indiana, the son of wealthy farmer David C. Clark and his wife, Mary. In 1861, he entered Simonds Select School for Boys in Indianapolis, Indiana. During the Civil War, he served as a corporal in Company K, Seventy-Second Indiana Volunteer Mounted Infantry. In 1865, he moved to Kansas, where he married Jennie C. Jordan. They had three children. In May 1867, Clark was baptized into the Methodist Episcopal …

Danley, Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus Danley was a soldier, political activist, and newspaperman in the early days of Arkansas statehood. His adroit use of his newspaper, as well as his own political efforts, made him an often formidable opponent of the political dynasty known as “The Family,” a powerful group of Democrats who dominated Arkansas politics in the years between statehood and the Civil War. He also served as state auditor from 1849 to 1855. C. C. Danley was born on June 5, 1818, in the Missouri Territory. His father, James Danley, was an early pioneer in the Missouri and Arkansas territories. While Danley had at least two brothers and a sister, there appears to be no documentation concerning his mother. Danley set …

Dhonau, Jerry Franklin

Jerry Franklin Dhonau, a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, contributed to the Arkansas Gazette’s winning of a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting and commentary on the historic desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957. Later, he served as an editorial writer at the newspaper for twenty-seven years and was chief of the opinion section when the Gazette closed on October 18, 1991. Jerry Dhonau was born on September 20, 1934, in Little Rock to Charles Mitchell Dhonau and Lura Hill Dhonau. His father settled damage claims for the Cotton Belt Railroad. An older brother, Charles Mitchell Dhonau Jr., was killed in combat in World War II. While he was a student at Little Rock High …

Duncan, Virginia Maud Dunlap

Virginia Maud Dunlap Duncan was the second woman in Arkansas to secure a registration as a pharmacist. As a young businesswoman and editor of a newspaper, she ran for mayor of Winslow (Washington County) with an all-woman slate for city council. This “petticoat government” was elected to two consecutive terms and gained national attention during its time in office. Maud Dunlap was born on October 22, 1873, in Fayetteville (Washington County) to Dudley Clinton and Catherine Hewitt Dunlap. Her mother died when Dunlap was an infant. She and her brother, Rufus, went to live with her uncle Albert Dunlap and his wife, Virginia, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Other foster parents raised Dunlap’s sister and other two brothers. Dunlap’s foster …

Fulbright, Roberta Waugh

Roberta Waugh Fulbright took charge of the inherited, fragmented business holdings originally assembled by her husband and molded them into a multi-enterprise family firm. She emerged as an influential newspaper publisher, columnist, bank president, successful business owner, and civic crusader in Fayetteville (Washington County). Roberta Waugh was born on February 14, 1874, in Rothville, Missouri, to James Waugh, a farmer, and Pattie Stratton, a homemaker. She had three brothers and a sister who died in infancy in 1881. Waugh grew up in north central Missouri, attended the lower grades of public school in Rothville, graduated from high school in Kansas City, and attended the University of Missouri for two years to qualify for a teacher’s certificate. She taught in Chariton …

Funk, Erwin Charles

As the editor of the Rogers Democrat, Erwin Charles Funk introduced modern equipment and up-to-date business practices to that newspaper. As an active participant in state and national editorial associations, Funk spread awareness of the benefits of such innovations to other small-town newspapermen. Then, through his writings, he documented the changes in the newspaper business during his more than three decades as an editor. Funk also was a force behind many progressive civic improvements in Rogers (Benton County) through both his editorial voice and his volunteer work. Erwin Funk was born on January 5, 1877, in Deep River, Iowa, to Emanuel and Addie Funk; his parents also had three daughters. He grew up in western Iowa and graduated from Carroll …

Greenberg, Paul

Journalist Paul Greenberg of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a nationally recognized syndicated columnist and author whose writing appears in newspapers across the country. He was the longtime editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial’s editorial page, and, most recently, served as editorial page editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Greenberg won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing and was later a Pulitzer finalist and Pulitzer jurist. Paul Greenberg was born on January 21, 1937, in Shreveport, Louisiana. His parents were Sarah Ackerman Greenberg and Ben Greenberg, owners of a second-hand shoe store and a series of small businesses on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. He had an older sister, Lillian, and an older brother, Irving. Living with his family above the …

Gross, Tabbs

Tabbs Gross was a former slave who, as a lawyer and newspaper publisher, played an active role in Arkansas politics during Reconstruction. A political gadfly, he worked hard to secure greater influence within the Republican Party for the newly freed and enfranchised African-American population. Tabbs Gross was born a slave in Kentucky in 1820. Purchasing his freedom prior to the Civil War, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he aided slaves using the Underground Railroad, both there and in New England. He also served in Cincinnati’s Black Brigade during the war. After the war, Gross continued his efforts on behalf of the former slaves, serving as the head of a local “Committee to Get Homes for Refugees.” He soon decided …

Heiskell, John Netherland

aka: J. N. Heiskell
John Netherland (J. N.) Heiskell served as editor of the Arkansas Gazette for more than seventy years. During his tenure, he headed the newspaper during two world wars, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, and thousands of other events. He was an active civic affairs activist and used his influence to guide the state through decades of change. J. N. Heiskell was born on November 2, 1872, in Rogersville, Tennessee, to Carrick White Heiskell and Eliza Ayre Netherland Heiskell. He was the elder of two sons. Heiskell’s father—a former Confederate officer, lawyer, and later a judge—moved the family to Memphis shortly after the Civil War. Heiskell, whom his family and friends called …

Hussman, Walter E., Jr.

Walter E. Hussman Jr., who is best known in Arkansas as the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a third-generation newspaperman whose family acquired a chain of newspapers stretching from Tennessee to Missouri. As publisher of the Arkansas Democrat, Hussman went head to head with the larger Arkansas Gazette and won the so-called Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspaper war in October 1991. He purchased the assets of the Gazette from the Gannett Corp. and began publishing the Democrat-Gazette. Walter Edward Hussman Jr. was born in Texarkana (Miller County) on January 5, 1947, to Walter E. Hussman Sr. and Betty Palmer Hussman and raised in Camden (Ouachita County) with his two older sisters. His parents moved to Camden in 1949 when …

Johnson, John Harold

John Harold Johnson rose above abject poverty and racial discrimination to build a publishing empire that helped forever change the perception of African Americans in the United States. Johnson Publishing Company became the largest African-American-owned and -operated publishing company in the world and launched Ebony and Jet, two very successful magazines that gave a voice to millions of black Americans. Born Johnny Johnson on January 19, 1918, in Arkansas City (Desha County) to Leroy Johnson and Gertrude Jenkins Johnson, a cook in a Mississippi River levee camp, Johnson was a third-generation descendent of slaves. After the death of Johnson’s father in a sawmill accident when Johnson was eight years old, his mother married James Williams, who helped raise him. During a …

Jones, Oscar Eve (O. E.)

Oscar Eve (O. E.) Jones Sr. was a successful Batesville (Independence County) newspaper publisher and a state senator representing Independence and Jackson counties. O. E. Jones Sr. was born in Newport (Jackson County) on June 20, 1905, to Dr. Oscar Eve Jones and Frances “Fannie” Redman Jones of Newport. He had one brother, Lacy R. Jones. O. E. Jones was educated in the public schools of Newport and received a degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). His mother died when he was in his teens, and his father died about two years later. Jones went to live with his maternal uncle and aunt, Harry Brandenburg and Minnie Redman Brandenburg of Newport. On January …

Magie, Futha Cone

Futha Cone Magie helped pioneer community journalism in Arkansas during a period when most newspapers were family owned. He also furthered the interest of tourism in the state through his service on the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission. Cone Magie was born on October 12, 1924, in England (Lonoke County) to Albert Hugh Magie and Rose Beauchamp Magie. His father was an army barber in World War I, and both his parents operated a grocery store on Main Street in England as well as farmed. He was the third of five sons. Magie’s newspaper career began at age eight as a carrier for the Arkansas Gazette. He also milked cows and delivered bread to earn money. Magie was editor of …

McConico, J. H.

aka: John Hamilton McConico
John Hamilton McConico was an African-American educator, newspaper editor and publisher, businessman, national grand auditor for the Mosaic Templars of America, and a civil rights pioneer. His business and civil rights leadership included membership in the National Negro Business League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Arkansas Negro Democratic Association. J. H. McConico was born on December 25, 1877, in Livingston, Alabama, to Jessie McConico, a preacher, and Mattie McConico. His sister, Fannie, was four years his senior. After McConico completed the available public school courses, his family sent him to Agricultural and Mechanical College in Normal, Alabama. In 1898, McConico graduated from the department of printing with a literary emphasis. After graduation, he worked …

Mitchell, James

James Mitchell was president and editor-in-chief of the Arkansas Democrat from the time he purchased the paper with W. D. Blocher in 1878 until shortly before his death in 1902. As editor, Mitchell made the paper a powerful statewide force backing Democratic policies and candidates. At the same time, he argued forcefully, both in the paper and through frequent public speeches, for economic diversification in the state, for educational improvement, for equal pay and improved opportunities for women, and for other progressive measures. James Mitchell was born on May 8, 1832, at Cane Hill (Washington County) to James Mitchell, a farmer, and Mary Ann Webber. He was the third of ten children whose parents had moved their family from Indiana …

Patterson, Hugh Baskin, Jr.

Hugh Baskin Patterson Jr. was publisher of the Arkansas Gazette for thirty-eight years and is considered the unsung hero of the triumvirate that led the newspaper through the 1957 desegregation crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Its coverage of the crisis won two Pulitzer Prizes. Hugh Patterson was born in Cotton Plant, Mississippi, on February 8, 1915, the youngest of three children of Hugh B. Patterson Sr. and Martha Rebecca Wilson. His father was a merchant with experience in general stores in Cotton Plant and other places in Mississippi as well as Monticello (Drew County). The family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 1917. As a young man, Patterson worked for a commercial printing business …

Pruden, James Wesley, Jr.

Wesley Pruden was an American journalist best known for serving as a reporter, editor, and columnist with the Washington Times for more than three decades. He was a leader of the paper’s effort to establish itself as a conservative alternative to the U.S. capital city’s iconic Washington Post. James Wesley Pruden Jr. was born on December 18, 1935, in Jackson, Mississippi, to James Wesley Pruden Sr. and Anne Wilder Pruden. His father was a prominent and controversial minister who abandoned his itinerant preaching shortly after his son’s birth. Returning to Little Rock (Pulaski County), he pioneered radio preaching before becoming chaplain for—and later president of—the Capital Citizens’ Council, which was the Little Rock chapter of the White Citizens’ Council, a …

Ray, Victor Keith

Victor Keith Ray was a prominent writer and journalist who worked in Arkansas for much of his career. Later in his career, he moved to public relations and advocacy work on behalf of the nation’s farmers. Victor Keith Ray was born on February 10, 1919, in Bernie, Missouri, to Victor Hugo Ray and Myrtle Fonville Ray. He grew up in Missouri and graduated from Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (now Southeast Missouri State University). He married Pearl Downs; the couple had a daughter. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Ray’s wide-ranging writing career began after the war in California, where he wrote a number of mystery stories that appeared in pulp detective magazines such …

Read, Opie Pope

Opie Pope Read was a newspaperman, author, and lecturer. He cofounded the comic newspaper The Arkansas Traveler and wrote several successful novels. Arkansas provided much of his education as he worked for three Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspapers: the Arkansas Gazette, the Arkansas Evening Democrat, and the Evening Ledger. His work as city editor and his associations with the state’s antebellum elite provided him with decades of literary material. Opie Read was born on December 22, 1852, in Nashville, Tennessee, the youngest of eleven children. His parents were Guilford and Elizabeth Wallace Read. Read’s early life was spent in Gallatin, Tennessee. His formal education was limited, but he read extensively. After writing his first anonymously published piece for a local …

Riley, Sallie Irene Robinson-Stanfield

The earliest recorded Arkansas woman to use a hyphenated name after her marriage, Sallie Irene Robinson-Stanfield Riley, owned and edited the Cleveland County Herald in Rison (Cleveland County) during the 1890s and again early in the twentieth century. She exemplified the progressive spirit among Arkansas women. Sallie Irene Robinson was born in Tennessee on January 5, 1873, to William B. Robinson and Laura Pettey Robinson. One of her mother’s sisters, Adah Lee Pettey, married newspaperman Leon Roussan of the Osceola Times. Robinson lived with her aunt and received her early training in that office. In 1892 or 1893, she moved to Rison, where she set type for George H. Tisdale at the Cleveland County Herald and shortly thereafter purchased the …

Roussan, Adah Lee Pettey

Adah Lee Pettey Roussan was a pioneering newspaperwoman who took over the Osceola Times after the death of her husband, running it for twelve years between 1906 and 1918. An indefatigable progressive, she championed political reforms and societal betterment. Adah Lee Pettey was born on July 20, 1859, in Navarro County, Texas, the third of six children of Dr. Francis Marion Pettey and Sarah A. G. Elliot Pettey. In 1870, Dr. Pettey moved his family to Mississippi County, where he practiced medicine. On April 14, 1879, Adah Pettey married Leon Roussan, a printer who had worked at the office of the Ste. Genevieve Plain Dealer and other newspapers. In 1870, he had been one of the three founders of the …

Smithee, James Newton

James Newton Smithee, the founder of the Arkansas Democrat, was a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas journalism. Smithee was also an important Democrat during the years after Reconstruction and an advocate of the silver movement in Arkansas. J. N. Smithee was born in 1842 in what would become Sharp County into a poor Scottish-Irish farming family; his parents were Samuel Harris Smithee and Edna Elizabeth (Woodrow) Smithee. His formal education consisted of three months in a country school. When he was twelve years old, he became an apprentice to the Des Arc Citizen, where he learned the printing trade. When Smithee was eighteen, he bought into the Prairie County Democrat and used it to support the Southern Democratic …

Sorrells, John Harvey

John Harvey Sorrells was executive editor of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and former deputy director of the U.S. Office of Censorship during World War II. At the time of his death, the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) native was well respected in journalism circles for his first-hand knowledge of the field and his warm, engaging personality. John Harvey Sorrells was born on March 31, 1896, in a one-story house on State Street in Pine Bluff, one of four children of Walter Bartlett Sorrells, who was a circuit judge, and Mary Iva Fletcher Sorrells. In 1886, his maternal grandfather, Reid Fletcher, launched and edited the Daily Graphic newspaper in Pine Bluff. As a high school student working part time, John Sorrells would …

Starr, John Robert

John Robert Starr was a reporter, columnist, author, and educator who served as the managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat (and later the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) from 1978 to 1992. He is most known for his role in the newspaper war between the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette. John Starr was born on December 29, 1927, in Lake Village (Chicot County), the oldest of three children of John Phillip Starr and Thelma Russell Starr. The family lived in various locations in southeastern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and Mississippi during Starr’s childhood. After Starr’s father died in 1932, Starr’s mother moved with the children to Lake Village and the family then moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) when Starr was in the fourth …

Washburn, Alexander Henry

Alexander Henry (Alex) Washburn was a prominent conservative newspaperman in southern Arkansas who served as the editor and publisher of the Hope Star for fifty-four years. Washburn sought to stay ahead of the technology curve, and in 1942, the Star began one of the world’s first transmissions by wire of newspaper content from other papers. The Star was also an early user of offset printing, 35 mm photography, and the four-color process. Alex Washburn was born on August 12, 1899, in Toronto, Canada, to American parents from Pennsylvania and Illinois. His father, William Henry Washburn, was an official with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and his mother, Annie Henry Washburn, was a homemaker. Washburn was the oldest of three sons and …

Watson, Patrick Samuel Gideon

Patrick Samuel Gideon Watson, the father of Baptist history in Arkansas, was one of the state’s early itinerate ministers and the editor of Arkansas’s first religious newspaper in 1859. Watson was born on May 2, 1816, in Falmouth, Kentucky, the son of local farmer Joseph Watson and Ann Anderson Watson. His writings indicate that he received an excellent classical education. He married Catherine Oldham Harris on March 14, 1839, in Kentucky. They were the parents of eleven children, only three of which were living by the time the family moved to Texas in the 1870s. In 1843, he was licensed to preach by the historic Forks of Licking Baptist Church in Falmouth. Shortly afterward, he and his family joined an …

Weston, Joseph Harry

Joseph Harry Weston was a journalist who retired to the mountains of Sharp County in 1962 and became famous for a crude but crusading newspaper called the Sharp Citizen. The paper’s lurid headlines and stories packed with scandal and scurrilous descriptions of business and political leaders kept him in trouble with the law. His arrests ultimately led the Arkansas Supreme Court to invalidate the state’s 105-year-old criminal-libel law. In the six years that he printed the paper, he twice ran for governor, unsuccessfully. Joseph Weston was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 6, 1911. Little is known of his life from then until his retirement to a farm near Cave City (Sharp and Independence counties) except what he …

Whitworth, William Alvin

William Alvin Whitworth began his newspaper career in Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was a high school student. He has come to be recognized as one of the nation’s most reputable journalists, having been a writer and associate editor of the New Yorker and editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Monthly. Bill Whitworth was born on February 13, 1937, in Hot Springs (Garland County). He attended Central High School in Little Rock, where he also spent time working as an advertising department copy boy for the Arkansas Democrat. He attended the University of Oklahoma (OU) at Norman. During summers and a year he took off from school, Whitworth continued to work at the Democrat with editor Roberta Martin and photographer Will …

Wirges, Gene

Eugene Henry (Gene) Wirges was an Arkansas journalist noted for his crusade against the influence over Arkansas politics exerted in the early 1960s by Governor Orval Faubus and his political ally Sheriff Marlin Hawkins of Conway County. As a crusading editor and good-government advocate, Wirges, along with his wife, Betty, allied themselves with the forces of reform at serious personal risk. Principally as editor of the Morrilton Democrat, as well as other local papers, Wirges led a campaign for better government and honest elections, which resulted in lawsuits, criminal prosecution, physical altercations, and—allegedly—a contract on his life. His opponent and chief nemesis, Hawkins, vehemently denied being involved in such activities. Born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 5, 1927, …

Woodruff, William Edward

William Edward Woodruff’s life spanned the years of Arkansas’s territorial days, statehood, Confederacy, and Reconstruction. Although best known today as the founder of the Arkansas Gazette, the state’s first newspaper, Woodruff became one of the state’s most important and colorful historical figures through his other business interests, political connections, and efforts to promote Arkansas. William Woodruff was born on December 24, 1795, on a small farm at Fire Place on Long Island, New York, the oldest of five sons born to Nathaniel Woodruff and Hannah Clarke Woodruff. His father died when Woodruff was twelve; two years later, his mother apprenticed him to Alden Spooner, a Sag Harbor, New York, printer who published the Suffolk Gazette. His original indenture document still …