Sunday, October 2, 2016

An open line, plus a bit of Arkansas newspaper history

Posted By on Sun, Oct 2, 2016 at 4:39 PM

Here's the Sunday night open line. I've included some video, done by shaky hand-held iPhone, during a reunion Saturday night at the Darragh Center of former employees of the Arkansas Gazette, which closed 25 years ago this month.

At the three-minute mark, following the end of some introductions of everyone in the room, former Gazette associate editor Ernest Dumas, long-time chief of the newspaper's Capitol coverage, introduced a speaker, former U.S. Sen. David Pryor.

Pryor, it isn't widely known, was a correspondent for the Arkansas Gazette during his student years at the University of Arkansas and briefly when he ran a weekly newspaper in Camden. His  political career proved more successful than that business venture. Dumas revealed Pryor's unbylined authorship of a controversial story about a sex researcher who spoke at UA. Pryor delivered an extemporaneous talk on the value of newspapers and their influence on politics, particularly the Gazette, in answering a question of why Arkansas politics didn't evolve for so much of the last half-century as Louisiana and Mississippi had.

More tales were told at brunch this morning, some of them perhaps even close to accurate. People like George Fisher, Orville Henry, the Patterson family, J.N. Heiskell, Bill Shelton and Jim Bailey were remembered fondly and often irreverently. The crowd included at least three people whose journalism careers took them from Little Rock to Paris (not Logan County) and one, Maria Henson, who went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Good company and good memories.

click to enlarge UA/FISHER COLLECTION.
  • UA/Fisher collection.
Funny, looking at the UA's collection of George Fisher's images, I found this one he drew years ago, still relevant today.

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