Entry Category: Print Journalism

Village Academy Beavers

Village Academy was a fictitious private school in Arkansas that was created by two members of the staff at Jessieville High School in Garland County in 1985. Fake scores for the school’s football teams were printed from 1985 to 1988 in the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat before anyone at either of the Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspapers caught on. It is considered one of the classic pranks in modern Arkansas history and was the subject of a lengthy feature story in the 2015 edition of Hooten’s Arkansas Football magazine. Soon after that story was published, the Little Rock–based company Rock City Outfitters began selling Village Academy Beavers shirts. Bob Sivils, the band director at Jessieville High School at …

Ward, John Louis

John Louis Ward was an author, editor, journalist, teacher, and political operative from Arkansas. In addition to becoming the first major biographer of Arkansas governor Winthrop Rockefeller, he is known for his work as a campaign manager and public relations director. He was also heavily involved in the academic affairs of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) and the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). John Ward was born on December 17, 1930, in Damascus (Van Buren and Faulkner Counties) to Roy W. Ward and Mamie L. Ward. His father was a pastor. Ward was one of eight children. A talented musician, Ward played in his high school band and even toured as …

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 …

Weekly Vista [Newspaper]

Originally established to promote the nascent retirement community of Bella Vista (Benton County), the Weekly Vista transformed from a monthly newsletter into an award-winning weekly paper that’s been recognized for general excellence by the Arkansas Press Association. Launched on July 4, 1965, as the Vista, the paper’s first edition included a feature borrowed from the Ozark Mountaineer outlining the scope of the village and developer John Cooper Sr.’s inspiration for “gradual retirement.” Other front-page stories included the dedication of a post office (which Bella Vista had been without since its resort era of the 1940s), demographics of the “average villager,” and the perks of village life, which included low taxes and plenty of squirrel hunting. The paper’s first editor was …

WEHCO Media, Inc.

WEHCO Media, Inc., of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a privately owned communications company with interests in newspaper publishing, cable television, and digital services. Established in 1909, it operates daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, and cable television companies in six states. WEHCO (pronounced WAY-CO) is an acronym for Walter E. Hussman Company. The company chairman is Walter E. Hussman Jr., who also serves as publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the company’s largest newspaper. Hussman is the grandson of Clyde E. Palmer, whose media holdings formed the basis of WEHCO, and the son of newspaper publisher Walter Hussman Sr. The company has almost 2,000 employees. In a history of his family for the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, Hussman wrote: “In 1909, …

Wells, George Henson

George Henson Wells was a reporter and editor at the Pine Bluff Commercial and Arkansas Gazette. His long career was marked at the end by his distinguished reporting on two epic federal trials. George Wells was born on February 9, 1938, in Hot Springs (Garland County), the son of George Wells, who was at one time an insurance salesman, and Annette Wilson Wells. While his father worked at construction jobs around the country during World War II, he and his mother lived in Camden (Ouachita County), his mother’s hometown. They lived in an apartment over a grocery store until Wells graduated from Camden High School and they moved to Hot Springs. At Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) in …

Wells, Ira James Kohath

A pioneer in education and journalism, Ira James Kohath Wells was a gifted scholar, businessman, and humanitarian with humble rural beginnings. Ira J. K. Wells was born in Tamo (Jefferson County) on July 1, 1898, to William James Wells and Emma Brown Wells. When he was young, half of his leg was amputated after he injured it trying to hop on to a moving freight train. For the rest of his life, he had a wooden prosthetic leg. He finished his secondary education at Branch Normal College in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)—and then went on to earn a degree in business from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1923. Even as a student, …

Weston v. Arkansas

aka: Arkansas v. Weston
Joseph Harry Weston v. State of Arkansas dealt with two criminal cases that reached the Arkansas Supreme Court in the 1970s, the second of which led the court to declare the state’s old criminal-libel law unconstitutional. Joseph Harry Weston was the owner and editor of a tiny tabloid newspaper in Cave City (Sharp County) called the Sharp Citizen, which he printed off and on from 1972 until 1978. The paper, which was composed on typewritten stationery with hand-drawn headlines, reveled in strongly opinionated articles that alleged corruption and other scandalous behavior by public officials, businessmen, and common citizens, including Weston’s rural neighbors. The editor’s crusades got national attention but put him into almost perpetual conflict with law-enforcement officials, prosecutors, and …

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 …

White County Record

The White County Record was one of the longest-running newspapers in White County. Published in Judsonia (White County), it operated for almost one hundred years. Surprisingly for a paper with such a long history, it had few ownership changes. When the paper closed in 2014, it had a long record of solid news reporting. Ralph C. Mann Sr. purchased the Judsonia Weekly Advance newspaper in 1915 and ran it as a Democratic paper until 1920. After purchasing the paper, Mann installed new printing machinery, including a cylinder press and linotype machine, and was able to increase his subscribers by the hundreds. In 1921, Mann changed the Weekly Advance to an independent affiliation and, in 1922, began publishing on Thursdays instead …

Whitworth, William Alvin

William Alvin Whitworth began his newspaper career in Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was a high school student. He came 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 Counts as …

Winslow, Thyra Samter

Thyra Samter Winslow wrote more than 200 stories published between 1915 and 1955 in the heyday of American popular magazines. Her early life in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) provided background for her view of small towns as prejudiced, hypocritical, and suffocating places. She was a principal contributor to Smart Set, with stories in every issue from December 1914 to 1923. Some of her work was collected in books such as My Own, My Native Land (1935), People Round the Corner (1927), Picture Frames (1923, reprinted as Window Panes in 1945), and The Sex without Sentiment (1954). Published accounts of Winslow’s life are often contradictory. The authoritative work is a doctoral dissertation by Richard C. Winegard, who established Winslow’s biography from …

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, …

Wirges, Joseph Bernard (Joe)

Joe Wirges, whose long, colorful career with the state’s oldest newspaper earned him the sobriquet “Joe Gazette,” was a crime reporter of national repute who spent more than half a century writing about crooks and tragedies for the Arkansas Gazette. Wirges started delivering the Gazette to homes as a youngster a few years after John Netherland Heiskell and his brother Fred Heiskell bought the paper in 1902. He became a full-time reporter when he was nineteen and retired fifty years later. He was a natural detective and helped the police break down suspects and solve crimes. During the heyday of the national pulp detective magazines—the 1930s through the 1950s—Wirges was a frequent contributor to, and subject of, journals like True …

Woman’s Chronicle

On March 3, 1888, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) three women—Catherine Campbell Cuningham, Mary Burt Brooks, and Haryot Holt Cahoon—published the first issue of the Woman’s Chronicle, a weekly newspaper dedicated to women’s interests, particularly suffrage. Cuningham was listed as the editor, Brooks and Cahoon as associate editors. The previous year, the short-lived Little Rock publication the Southern Ladies’ Journal had ended its run, leaving a void that it appears these women sought to fill. The founding meeting of the Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association had been held the month before, likely generating some of the motivation as well. The Woman’s Chronicle focused on women’s primary day-to-day interests at the time—cooking, fashion, and literature—in addition to social gatherings, events, and the …

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 …

X-Ray

The X-Ray was one of Arkansas’s first “underground” newspapers. Circulated in 1912 at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), the X-Ray was known for criticizing not just the university and its policies but also its faculty. The X-Ray sparked a wave of social change in Fayetteville that affected how the university was run. Ultimately, a group of students was expelled for printing and distributing the X-Ray, triggering a dramatic student protest. In February 1912, thirty-six students attending UA formed a group called the Iconoclasts. On February 24, 1912, they printed and distributed the first issue of the X-Ray. The paper touted itself as the “Paper Without a Muzzle,” and the editors had their names printed plainly below …