Entries - Entry Category: Print Journalism

Hot Springs Medical Journal

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Hot Springs (Garland County) was proud home to the Hot Springs Medical Journal, first published in January 1892. Although medical journals were published in nearby locations including Little Rock (Pulaski County), Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, the founders of the publication felt that the natural hot springs for which the city was named provided a great resource for many patients. They stated in the first volume: “The city of Hot Springs, Arkansas is…the greatest sanitarium on earth, and in a few years is inevitably destined to become the most universally frequented health resort in the world.” At that time, Hot Springs was already quite a tourist area. The resident population was …

Hughes, David Terry

David Terry Hughes Sr. was a longtime journalist, photographer, and newspaperman from Benton (Saline County). Hughes’s newspaper career began with freelance photography for the Benton Courier at age fourteen. In addition to newspapers in Arkansas, Hughes worked for papers in Texas, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Saipan, and Guam. He was the grandson of noted Arkansas poet and columnist Anna Nash Yarbrough. David Terry Hughes was born on February 8, 1948, in the Panama Canal Zone to Frank Hughes and Jessie Shaver Hughes. His father served in the U.S. Army; when he was stationed in Panama in 1949, he was killed while crossing the street when Hughes was only a year old. Hughes’s mother remarried but soon separated. His three half brothers …

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 …

Jobe, John R.

John Russell Jobe worked as a newspaperman and then for state government, serving as Arkansas state auditor from 1909 to 1913. John Russell (John R. or J. R.) Jobe was born on August 24, 1855, in Ringgold, Georgia, to David Jobe and Sarah J. Harden (or Hardin) Jobe. He had seven sisters, as well as a brother, Benjamin F. (B. F.) Jobe, who also later worked in media and government. The family moved to Arkansas in early 1858 and settled near Searcy (White County), though Jobe had at least one cousin living in Marion County. The family seems to have had strong ties to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church: two of Jobe’s sisters married Cumberland Presbyterian ministers, and his brother married …

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 …

Kearney, Janis

Janis Kearney was the publisher of the historic Arkansas State Press and later served as presidential diarist to U.S. president Bill Clinton from 1995 to 2001, the first such appointment in presidential history. After leaving Washington DC, she wrote several books and founded a publishing company. Janis Faye Kearney was born on September 29, 1953, in the small rural town of Gould (Lincoln County). She was the fourteenth of nineteen children born to sharecropper Thomas James Kearney and homemaker Ethel Curry Kearney, who also worked in the fields. By the time she was nine years old, Kearney was helping to care for her younger brothers and sisters as well as cooking for the large family. She spent evenings learning to …

Kennedy, Jon

Jon Kennedy served as a political cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat from 1941 to 1943 and again from 1946 to 1988, totaling nearly fifty years, one of the longest employments with a single newspaper in the nation. Kennedy was Arkansas’s first full-time professional newspaper artist, and his cartoons highlighted Arkansas and world topics, won numerous awards, and were featured in national newspapers including the New York Times. Jon Kennedy was born on August 19, 1918, in Springfield, Missouri, to Brownlow Kennedy, who was a telegraph operator for the railroad, and Ida Kennedy, who was a homemaker. At age seventeen, and while still in high school, he began working as an artist for the Springfield Leader Press, where he was employed …

King, Bertha Hale

aka: Bertha Hale White
Bertha Hale King was a socialist activist in the first part of the twentieth century. Although born in Illinois, she received most of her early education in Arkansas before leaving the state to serve as a high-ranking official in the national Socialist Party. Bertha Hale was born in Nashville, Illinois, in 1878. Her father was a farmer, but little else is known about her parents. She attended primary school in Golden City, Missouri, just over the state line from Illinois. The family then moved to Arkansas. Following graduation from high school in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), she attended Buckner College, a small Baptist school just a few miles north of Huntington (Sebastian County). In preparation for a teaching career, she …

Lemke, Walter John

Walter John Lemke established the department of journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1928 and served as the head of the department until his retirement in 1959. The university named the department the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism in his honor in 1988. In addition, he founded several historical and journalistic organizations. Walter Lemke was born on January 6, 1891, in Wausau, Wisconsin, to Carl Lemke and Ulrika Block Lemke. Lemke attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Indiana. He received his AB degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, which is near Cleveland, in 1911. The college later awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1962. He earned …

Lewis, Henry Jackson

Henry Jackson Lewis, who was born into slavery, has been called the first black political cartoonist. His drawings appeared in publications across the nation. H. J. Lewis was born in Water Valley, Mississippi, in 1837 or 1838. As a child, he fell into a fire, maiming his left hand and blinding his left eye. Nothing further is known about his youth, but by 1872, he was living in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where he worked as a laborer in the mid- to late 1870s. By 1879, he was selling drawings of city and Arkansas River scenes to the national publication Harper’s Weekly, and he later sold similar drawings to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. On October 25, 1882, a Pine Bluff …

Liberator, The

The Liberator was an anti-Catholic weekly newspaper published in Magnolia (Columbia County) from 1912 to 1915. It is representative of a type of journalism that railed against Catholicism in the early 1900s and was particularly strong in the South and the Midwest. Populist politician Tom Watson of Georgia had launched a new wave of anti-Catholic journalism in 1910 with his Watson’s Jeffersonian Magazine, but the largest anti-Catholic paper was The Menace, published in Aurora, in the Missouri Ozarks, approximately forty miles north of the Arkansas line. Founded in 1911, The Menace had 1.5 million subscriptions by 1915, making it one of the most widely circulated publications in the country. The Liberator was a smaller regional paper, similar to other anti-Catholic …

Little Rock Free Press

aka: Arkansas Free Press
The Little Rock Free Press was an alternative newspaper based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It began publication on April 20, 1993, and twelve years later, the Freep, as it was commonly called, became the Arkansas Free Press. The Little Rock Free Press covered everything from daily news to controversial topics such as prostitution, homosexuality, night life, drug culture, and Little Rock’s independent music scene. Often incurring the wrath of religious groups and politicians, the Freep was said by its editor to be “provocative Arkansas history with a twist.” In 1993, Little Rock’s previous alternative newspaper, Spectrum Weekly, ceased publication. It had been printed in Russellville (Pope County) but faced opposition from the printer and others after it began running …

Lyons, Eugene Aloysius (Gene)

Eugene Aloysius (Gene) Lyons is an award-winning author, columnist, and political commentator who lives in Arkansas and wrote a nationally syndicated column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, among other publications. He is author of several books and co-author of The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton (2000), which was made into a documentary film in 2004. Gene Lyons was born on September 20, 1943, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Eugene Aloysius Lyons Jr., an insurance clerk, and Helen Sheedy Lyons, a typist. For a time, Lyons’s father also ran a Dairy Queen. Lyons attended Chatham High School in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University, also in New Jersey, in 1965 with a degree …

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 …

Mathis, Deborah Myers

Deborah Mathis is an acclaimed journalist and author who has been a reporter and columnist for newspapers and a television reporter and anchor. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003. Deborah Myers was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 24, 1953. Her father, Lloyd H. Myers, was a businessman and Baptist minister, while her mother, Rachel A. Helms Myers, was an educator. She has several brothers and sisters. Myers attended Gibbs Elementary, Rightsell Elementary, and Westside Junior High, graduating from Little Rock Central High in 1971. She got her start in journalism at the Central school newspaper as the first female and first African-American editor. Rather than leave home to go to college, …

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 …

McDonald, Thomas Newton (Tom)

Photographer Thomas Newton McDonald, a resident of Jonesboro (Craighead County), accumulated many honors in his lifetime, including the United Nations award for service to humanity, Gerard Bakker Award for teaching, and National Award for Service from both the Arkansas Professional Photographers and Southwestern Professional Photographers. His primary work focused on portrait photography, but he also took scenic and artistic photographs. In 1996, McDonald wrote The Business of Portrait Photography: A Professional’s Guide to Marketing and Managing a Successful Studio, with Profiles of 30 Top Portrait Photographers. The book, published by Amphoto Books of New York, was later published in a second edition and translated into Mandarin for publication in China. Born in Lake City (Craighead County) on July 2, 1933, …

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 …

Morgan, Tom Perkins

Tom Perkins Morgan’s gravestone in the Rogers Cemetery says simply, “Writer, Humorist, Philosopher.” To many in Rogers (Benton County), he was best known as a successful local businessman who operated a newsstand and bookstore downtown. But Morgan was a nationally known writer whose work appeared in major publications such as Life and the Saturday Evening Post. Tom P. Morgan was born on December 1, 1864, in East Lyme, Connecticut, to Joseph P. Morgan and Mary A. Perkins Morgan. He moved with his parents and his only sibling, Harry, to Garnett, Kansas, when he was ten. He grew up there, spending much of his spare time in the local newspaper office. In his youth, Morgan was something of an adventurer. He …

Newspapers during the Civil War

When the Civil War began in 1861, Arkansas was still basically a frontier state, with thirty to forty small newspapers; only about ten remained by 1862. By the end of the war in 1865, only one of those newspapers, the Washington Telegraph in Hempstead County, had published throughout the conflict. The Arkansas State Gazette suspended publication in 1863 but restarted in May 1865. Arkansas’s newspapers were weeklies with small staffs—primarily just editors and printers. The papers were highly partisan, poorly documented, and had little fresh news from the outside world. The papers got much of their outside news through exchanges, in which editors mailed free copies of their papers to each other. The editors then selected news items from these …

Noland, Fent

aka: Charles Fenton Mercer (Fent) Noland
One of Arkansas’s most famous citizens during the antebellum period was Charles Fenton Mercer (Fent) Noland, a Batesville (Independence County) lawyer. He became a national figure as one of the leading “Southwestern humorists” with the regular publication of his letters in the New York Spirit of the Times, the leading national sports and humor newspaper. Noland was Arkansas’s representative in the literary movement named for the “old Southwest” (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas), which delighted the nation with an array of bucolic frontier/agrarian writings. Fent Noland was named for Charles Fenton Mercer, the family friend who founded Aldie, Virginia, where he was born on August 23, 1810, the fourth of the five children of William and Catherine (Callender) Noland. His father …

Oxford American (OA)

The Oxford American (OA) is a quarterly journal of Southern culture and literature. Affiliated with the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County), it publishes short fiction, poetry, and articles in a glossy format in the vein of Harper’s or the Atlantic Monthly. The Oxford American is best known for its music issue, which focuses on often-overlooked Southern musicians and includes a CD of selected songs from these musicians. The Music Issue has been featured on National Public Radio many times and has won two National Magazine Awards for Best Single Topic Issue. OA has sporadic special issues with topics including Southern art, architecture, film, and food. Founded under editor Marc Smirnoff in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1992 as a …

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 …

Pfeiffer, Pauline

Pauline Pfeiffer was a successful journalist who wrote for such magazines as Vanity Fair and Vogue. From 1927 to 1940, she was married to author Ernest Hemingway, being the second of his four wives. At her family’s home in Piggott (Clay County), Hemingway wrote some of the works that would contribute to a 1954 Nobel Laureate in Literature for his contribution to writing. Hemingway credited her as being the best editor with whom he ever worked. Pauline Marie Pfeiffer was born in Parkersburg, Iowa, on July 22, 1895, to Mary Downey Pfeiffer and wealthy businessman Paul Pfeiffer. She had a younger sister, Virginia Ruth (called “Jinny”), and brother, Paul Mark. When she was six years old, the family moved to …

Pick and Shovel

The Pick and Shovel was the official newspaper of the Republic Mining and Manufacturing Company (a subsidiary of the Alcoa company, which mined bauxite ore to produce aluminum), based in Bauxite (Saline County). It was conceived by Leona Rucker, its first editor, to be “a friendly, informal newspaper for all of us and our families at Bauxite and at Drury.” In 1953, the Pick and Shovel won the highest award for editorial merit of all Alcoa plant publications in the United States. The paper’s original run lasted from January 1944 to May 1958, after which it went out of print. However, the most recent incarnation of the Pick and Shovel is as the official newsletter of the Bauxite Historical Association …

Pine Bluff Weekly Herald

Established in 1900 by Jesse Chisholm (J. C.) Duke, the Pine Bluff Weekly Herald was an African-American newspaper published in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). During its short run, the Herald published on Saturdays and featured local, state, national, and international news, as well as entertainment and advertising. To date, no records have surfaced to document how long the paper circulated, and only one issue, published on January 27, 1900, has been archived. However, some information is available about editor J. C. Duke. Born a slave in Alabama in 1853, Duke began his career in the newspaper business by serving as editor of the Montgomery Herald until he was chased out of the state because of his bold and controversial editorial …

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 …

Pulitzer Prize (Arkansas Recipients and Nominees)

The Pulitzer Prize is awarded annually in American journalism, literature, and music composition. It was named for newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer and has been awarded since 1917. Prizes are given from twenty-one possible categories, but not all categories are awarded every year. Winning comes with considerable prestige as well as a $10,000 prize for twenty of the categories and a gold medal for the Public Service category in journalism. There is a $50 entry fee, and works may be entered in up to two categories for consideration. The nominees are selected by 102 judges serving on twenty juries who select three nominees per category. The judges and the final winners are chosen by the Pulitzer Prize Board. Aside from prize winners …

Quesenbury, William Minor “Cush”

William Minor “Cush” Quesenbury (the nickname reflecting how the last name should be pronounced) is known for his achievements as a journalist whose essays appeared in national publications; the founder and editor of the South-West Independent at Fayetteville (Washington County), one of the most quoted newspapers in the 1850s; a painter whose sketchbooks cover his trip to and from California during the gold rush; a poet, whose long poem on Arkansas encapsulated the state’s history and people; and a soldier who fought in both the Mexican War and the Civil War. Historians familiar with his accomplishments rank him as one of the most prolific and creative individuals Arkansas ever produced. Bill Quesenbury was born on August 21, 1822, in newly …

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, Lessie Stringfellow

Lessie Stringfellow Read was an early champion of women’s rights, a writer for six national periodicals of her day, a correspondent for two large newspapers, and a newspaper editor herself. She was a founder of the Women’s Suffrage Association of Washington County and was an officer for the local Red Cross during World War I. In addition, she served many years as national press chairperson for the largest women’s organization of the early twentieth century, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Lessie Read was born Mabel Staples on January 3, 1891, in Temple, Texas, to William and Lillian Staples. Both her parents died from a fever when she was two years old, and the renowned horticulturist Henry Martyn Stringfellow and …

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 …

Reed, Roy

Roy Reed, author of an incisive biography of Governor Orval Faubus, was a renowned writer and reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and The New York Times. He taught journalism for sixteen years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). As a teacher, he stressed not only the importance of telling stories accurately but of telling them well, with careful attention to language. Roy Reed was born on February 14, 1930, in Hot Springs (Garland County) to Roy E. Reed, a mail carrier and later a storeowner, and Ella Meredith Reed, a homemaker. His younger sister, Hattie, died in 1964. Reed grew up in Piney, an unincorporated Garland County community near Hot Springs. Piney was racially mixed, and …

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 …

Rowland, Hardy Alton “Spider”

Hardy Alton “Spider” Rowland was a flamboyant newspaperman whose political columns in the Arkansas Gazette in the 1940s attracted a huge following and were widely quoted around the country. Rowland was a hard-drinking, wisecracking, brawling man-about-town whose cigar and black fedora cocked on the back of his head made him familiar on the sidewalks and in bars. Southern Politics, the 1949 classic political science anthology about politics in Southern states, invoked Rowland’s metaphors to illustrate the peculiar nature of Arkansas elections. Spider Rowland was born on July 14, 1907, in a log cabin near Hardy (Sharp County), the son of Fountain Edgar Rowland and Mary Rowland. He was the second-oldest of five children. When he was a boy, the family …

Saline County News-Pacesetter

Between 1955 and the mid-1970s, an independent weekly newspaper (first called the Saline County News, then—after consolidation with the Saline County Pacesetter—the News-Pacesetter) existed in direct opposition to the Benton Courier in Saline County. Veteran newspaperman Harold Johnson and his wife, newspaperwoman Elsie Cabe Johnson, left the Benton Courier to start their own paper, the Saline County News, in June 1955. It lasted until 1972, when Whitney Jones, son of Dr. Curtis Jones, purchased it from the Johnsons. Continuing as the Saline County News-Pacesetter, the paper lasted until the mid-1970s, when it too was sold. In addition to covering local news and sports, it helped launch the careers of many Arkansas writers and photographers. The first newspaper to carry the …

Saline Courier

aka: Benton Courier
The Saline Courier (formerly known as the Benton Courier) is the largest and oldest newspaper in Saline County. The paper began its life as the Saline County Digest, established by Vermont native W. A. Webber in 1876, as the official mouthpiece of Saline County Democrats, although it later lost that affiliation. The Digest was published weekly in a seven-column folio with an average circulation of 1,000. In November 1882, the Digest changed hands for the first time. It was purchased by B. B. Beavers, who renamed it the Saline County Review; in November 1883, Colonel Samuel Houston Whitthorne bought Beavers’s interest in the paper and renamed it the Saline Courier. Whitthorne was the father-in-law of prominent Benton doctor Dr. Dewell …

Saunders, Michael Earl (Mike)

aka: "Metal Mike"
Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Michael Earl Saunders is the lead singer and guitarist of the Angry Samoans, a California-based band that formed in 1978 out of the first wave of American punk music. Saunders, a music journalist in earlier years, was also the first to use the term “heavy metal” to describe the musical genre. Mike Saunders (a.k.a. Metal Mike) was born on May 1, 1952, to Earl L. Saunders Jr., who was an architectural photographer, and Jean Cox Saunders, who was an office manager for Burns Security in Little Rock. He has one younger sibling. Saunders attended Hall High School in Little Rock, where he played trombone in the marching band. His first album review was published in …

Schexnayder, Charlotte Tillar

Journalist and state politician Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder co-owned the Dumas Clarion newspaper in Dumas (Desha County) with her husband for more than four decades and served in the Arkansas House of Representatives for fourteen years. She was the first woman appointed to the Arkansas Board of Pardons and Parole, and she was the first female president of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce. She was also president of several associations for professional journalists, including the Arkansas Press Women, the Arkansas Press Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the National Newspaper Association. Charlotte Tillar was born on December 25, 1923, in Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) to Jewell Stephen Tillar and Bertha Terry Tillar. The family moved to McGehee (Desha County) in …

Sellers, Barney

Professional photographer Barney Sellers, a native of Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), accumulated many honors in his lifetime, including a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. His photographs of Arkansas barns, old houses, and rural scenes attracted many fans of his work and aspiring followers to northeastern Arkansas and the Ozarks. Born on March 28, 1926, to John and Edith Sellers, Barney Bryan Sellers was the younger of two sons. He grew up in Walnut Ridge, where he graduated from high school in 1944. Following high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served two years aboard the USS De Haven. In the navy, he served in an administrative capacity and advanced to the rank of yeoman third …

Sentinel-Record

Hot Springs (Garland County) has had a number of newspapers come and go throughout its history. Local residents but also visitors to the Spa City from around the country have made up the readership of Hot Springs’ papers over the years. Between 1873 and 1883 alone, fifteen Hot Springs newspapers began and ended operation. This fact led Robert W. Leigh, historian of the Arkansas Press Association, to state in 1883, “Hot Springs has been the birthplace and burial ground of many a newspaper.” The Sentinel-Record (often abbreviated as S-R), the only local newspaper circulated daily throughout the area, remains as the last survivor of a series of newspaper mergers in Hot Springs. The first record of a local newspaper in …

Shannon, Henry Karr

Dubbed “the sage of Lunenburg,” Henry Karr Shannon wrote a daily column, “Run of the News,” in the Arkansas Democrat from 1944 until 1971. Covering everything from politics to popular culture, “he developed the largest following of any columnist in Arkansas,” according to a 1973 comment by Robert S. McCord, then associate editor of the Democrat. Born on March 1, 1902, at Lunenburg (Izard County), Karr Shannon was the only child of farmers Robert Nathan and Allie Maud (Estes) Shannon. A bout with scarlet fever and measles at age three left Shannon with only thirty percent of normal hearing. When he was five, his mother died of tuberculosis, and his father moved to New Mexico, where he, too, died of …

Smith, Alfred Edgar

Alfred Edgar Smith was active in the battle for equal rights for African Americans as an author, government worker, educator, journalist, and club leader. Alfred Smith was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on December 2, 1903. His parents were Jesse Rufus Smith, born a slave in Roanoke, Virginia, and Mamie Johnson Smith. Both worked at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs. Later, the couple began to work at the Crystal Bathhouse, a spa for African Americans. Jesse became manager and Mamie the bookkeeper. Smith worked his way through Langston High School as a night bellhop for the Eastman and Arlington Hotels and as an exercise boy at Oaklawn Park Racetrack (now Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort). He was a member …

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 …

Sorensen, John Hjaelmhof

John Hjaelmhof Sorensen was a cartoonist, artist, and advertising executive. A native of Denmark, he lived in Arkansas from 1950 to his death in 1969. He published cartoons in a wide array of magazines, from Playboy to the Saturday Evening Post, achieving wide acclaim for his work. John Sorensen was born on November 22, 1924, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of Paul Sorensen and Elly Hjelmhof Sorensen. His parents divorced when he was three, and he was then raised by his maternal grandmother. During the World War II occupation of Copenhagen, he was in the Danish underground, working as a courier since his job as an accountant for hotels and restaurants involved travel. After the war, he came to the …

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 …

Street, James Howell

James Howell Street was a newspaperman and novelist who worked at the Arkansas Gazette in the 1920s and later wrote essays celebrating the state and the newspaper. James Street was born on October 15, 1903, in Lumberton, Mississippi, to John Camillus Street and William Thompson Scott Street (her actual name). Although his family was Catholic, he converted and became a Baptist minister after marrying Lucy Nash O’Briant, the daughter of a Baptist preacher, in 1923. After three children were born, he gave up preaching and became a newspaper reporter, first at the Pensacola Journal in Florida and then in 1926 at the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was twenty-three when he went to work for the Gazette …