Local angle on this item in Politico. It quotes Robert Allbritton, CEO of Allbritton Communications, as saying he's considering the sale of his TV stations, but hanging onto Politico no matter what. A financial advisor is evaluating the idea.
Allbritton's properties include KATV, Channel 7, which Allbritton acquired in 1983. One outward sign of that purchase was the station's famous — infamous — multiple broadcast endorsements of George W. Bush for president in 2000. The station refused to provide time for an opposing viewpoint. The Allbritton family had many ties to the Bushes.
PS — Politico writer fawns over bossman Allbritton.
Over the top? Hyperbole? Perhaps. But it seems clear to me the video is a satirical way of attacking Exxon Mobil.
Exxon doesn't like it.
A news release from the group that made and wanted to air the video in paid commercial time said the ad was scheduled to be aired on several network affiliates in Little Rock this week until Exxon objected and then the ads were declined.
“Exxon is and will always be a bully,” said David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International. “Instead of engaging their critics appropriately, Exxon uses its billions to hire high-priced lawyers to make scary-sounding but unsupported legal claims to suppress criticism. It’s a window into how they have preserved billions in taxpayer handouts for their industry for so many years.”
Exxon has distributed this defense of itself, calling the ad defamatory. Exxon employees don't hate children, it says.
Oil Change International defends the ads here as satire and parody.
I asked a spokesman for Exxon if the company indeed had objected to airing of the video in Arkansas. The response:
The advertisement is offensive, nonsensical and fails to meet any basic standard of accuracy, so we requested that the TV stations reconsider airing it.
Alan T. Jeffers
Media Relations Manager
Exxon Mobil Corporation
UPDATE: I talked with Mike Vaughn, general manager at Channel 4, one of several stations the Oil Change group had contacted about the ad. He said the station had never agreed to run the ad because "it didn't meet our standards."
On the jump read the full news release from the group backing the ad:
John Brummett persists in putting his most liberal columns behind a Wednesday pay wall at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. It's my suspicion the relatively small on-line readership of the Democrat-Gazette trends in the more enlightened direction and that he's preaching mostly to the choir there. The broader readership could use a bit more of the progressive religion than it gets from the rest of the op-ed stable seven days a week.
Nonetheless, there he goes again today. It's nothing less than an endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, after three decades of personal aversion to someone he labels "Iron Lady 2.0." His aversion dates back to her strong role in managing candidate/governor Bill Clinton back in the early 1980s. He writes in part:
I am more than ready for a Hillary Clinton presidency to take the nation on its next and essential step toward the full equality of women.
And I am more than ready for her global leadership to take the world on its next and essential step to the rescue of women from bondage and inhumanity.
... It has been enlightening to behold the anger and despair of many women in Arkansas over legislation that tries to take them back by decades. New and constitutionally dubious laws have made them prisoners of time travelers from the 1950s who harbor narrow religious views that women exist as reproductive receptacles without say over their own bodies.
In Arkansas, women need Democratic control of at least one house of the legislature, he writes, to regain lost ground. But globally, Clinton's election would "revive and expedite the evolutionary process toward full and equal female empowerment."
There's more behind the pay wall if you have the key.
ALSO: The Onion weighs in on Hillary today, too.
Of course Mike Ross is running for governor. We've said it here repeatedly, most recently this morning.
But Ross has been carefully avoiding any conversations/leaks/whatever with local media on the topic.
Leaks to the national press OK. I guess this helps get the word out quickly to the corporate money that Ross worked so assiduously as a congressman, sometimes on the very eve of important votes. From National Journal:
Former Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross will announce on April 17 that he's running for governor, according to an email sent out Tuesday by a local Democratic chapter within the state.
Ross will fly to different cities throughout Arkansas on the day of his announcement, said Democratic insider Gary Grimes, who is not working for the campaign but is helping coordinate an event in Fort Smith. Grimes said Ross likely will hold events in Prescott, Texarkana, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock.
Wonder if he likes Obamacare any better than he did in Congress, with the legislature just about to make a fateful decision on whether to accept the Medicaid expansion it provides or not. Also wonder what the odds are he'll figure out a way to use a gun as a prop during his fly-around.
Betcha if somebody asks if he's packing he'll flash his carry permit, at least. What he oughta do is holster his shootin' iron and hold the news conference in an anti-abortion, anti-gay church that welcomes firearms. THAT would set a good tone.
Rick Fahr, the new general manager and publisher of the online-only River Valley Leader, has posted the first video shot from the paper's unmanned aerial vehicle. It ain't much (above), but you can imagine the potential.
Fahr, formerly editor and publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, has criticized Sen. Jason Rapert in the past. Rapert is notoriously thin-skinned. So, it's not surprising that he's filed a bill that would rain on Fahr's parade.
Readers here have already noted with sadness the small note in this week's edition that Bob Lancaster has chosen to end his 21-year run as an Arkansas Times columnist. He finished up without final words. I couldn't and wouldn't try to substitute except to reiterate what I said to him. "I'll miss you."
David Koon, an heir to Bob in so many ways (he took up the year-in-review franchise that was once Bob's), did send a note to staff about it and it seems worth repeating here:
If you look in the back of the Arkansas Times this week, you'll notice something missing: the great Bob Lancaster has retired from writing his weekly column, which means he has retired from journalism and a career that stretched all the way back to the reign of Orval Faubus, who once hated Bob wrote so much for something he'd written that Faubus went on statewide TV to slander him. I'd call that a badge of honor.
When I started at the Arkansas Times, I took Bob's old desk, a shaky affair with a chipped top that sat in the corner of the newsroom, backed up against a wall of bookshelves heavy with Arkansas history and lore. I honestly believe that knowing that I was sitting at Bob Lancaster's old desk was the only thing that got me through that first year and a goodly number of the ones between 2002 and now. Sometimes on payday, Bob would blow through the office while picking up his check, and he never failed to stop and chat with me to ask me what I was working on. Every once in awhile, he'd send an e-mail to say that he liked something I'd written, or that I'd made a good point, and I always printed those emails out and stapled them to the wall beside my desk. Why? Because when Mickey Mantle tells you that you had a good game, you print that shit out and staple it to the wall beside your desk.
If I could be any writer in the world — and I'm talking ANY WRITER, even Ernie Pyle or Hemingway or Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor — I would be Bob Lancaster. That is no fooling. I would write like Bob. That ain't the nostalgia talking. I've felt that way since before I started working here. Linked here is the only excerpt I could find of Bob's story "Requiem for Oklahoma City," about the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995. I read it back in college, then I read it again. And what I came away with was this amazement that a writer of such power and grace could come from pretty much the same place I did. I know there are lots of damn fine contenders for the crown, but I consider that story one of the best things — maybe THE best thing — ever printed in the Arkansas Times. Read it and you'll see what I mean.
Bob's writing has this way about it, so simple and so funny, so wise, so smart, so true to the place he grew up without being hayseed, always with this undercurrent of sadness — this sense of "If We're All Going to Hell, We Might as Well Drink!" resignation that I've admired and aspired to and always loved in the works of Twain and Vonnegut and Welty and Harper Lee. Even when he's talking about dog peter gnats and dominoes and backwoods shitkickers, he never quite lets you forget that he's the smartest sumbitch at the checkerboard... that he's got an arm on him, and he's not afraid to use it. Every time I've read something of his over the past ten years, even a throwaway weekly column that most people read once and tossed, I never failed to think: The day you catch up to that, son, you can quit.
Do check that excerpt on the Oklahoma City building bombing. It's one of several pieces we plan to include in a coming retrospective on Lancaster's half-century of work for newspapers. He's also as near as your local library in several books he wrote and a couple of Arkansas histories he edited (and wrote most of) for the Times over a career as writer, editor, columnist, conscience, friend.
Bob's fine, by the way. He's in Sheridan, not far from the House of Dominoes. I hope he'll get inspired now and again to contribute.
And speaking of farewells: I'm hoping weather won't prevent me from getting on a plane in Chicago this afternoon for Hong Kong and in time, another plane to New Zealand. The Arkansas legislature isn't much inclined to follow my advice anyway and I think I probably will appreciate a cessation of aggravation. Back in a few weeks.
Starting Monday, KHTE 96.5 The Voice will broadcast the Alice Stewart Show from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday. She'll provide both local and national perspectives to kick start a day to be devoted to wingn....., er, conservative syndicated political viewpoints. Think Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck and Dennis Miller.
This will be another point on the dial for that devoted audience that Rush Limbaugh has milked so well and perhaps a little competition for Dave Elswick over at KARN. I had coffee the other day with Stewart about the coming show. She and I have tussled politically a time or three. She says she's interested in opening up the show to some contrary voices now and again, maybe even a leftwing wacko like myself. That's contrary to the sort of message control that Limbaugh, Elswick, the RPA and others follow, so give her points for that. Bob Steel tells me he never had a better show than the day the gun nuts stormed his morning show phones to berate me for providing access to the public record of concealed carry permit holders. Cage match radio.
From the release:
“I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to sit down with the newsmakers and elected officials in the Natural State and talk about the issues that affect people across the state,” Stewart said. “I look forward to engaging in respectful talk with guests from all political perspectives. Together we will put a face and a voice on events making headlines.”
...Capital City Broadcasting recently switched KHTE from pop-music to a talk and news format. They also transformed 93.3 KKSP-FM from news talk format to all sports, Sports 93.3 The Source, which is also broadcast out of Little Rock.
Their lineup includes shows hosted by former Razorback basketball player Pat Bradley, Bo Mattingly, Wess Moore, Mike Irwin, and Michael Smith.
He's a 1990 Ouachita Baptist University graduate who taught mass communications at OBU 2007-2009. He owns a publishing company whose titles include a Colorado weekly newspaper.
The expected hammer dropped yesterday. Arkansas Business reports that Mission Broadcasting closed its purchase of Fox 16 and KASN-38 in Little Rock yesterday. As he'd expected, Chuck Spohn is working his last day as general manager at Fox 16. He'd already been seeking new opportunities, as the saying goes.
The key news here is that Mission will operate these stations in a joint agreement with Nexstar and its Little Rock stations, KARK-4 and KARZ-42. No details have been released yet, but the expectation has long been that KARK, branded as Arkansas Matters, would become the dominant member of the partnership, including in local news. Some news presence will continue on all the stations, but the likelihood of both Fox 16 and KARK continuing with full-bore news operations seems remote. Spohn told AB he had no information about further job changes and reductions.
Less is less. As a news reporter/aggregator/commentator in a community where the dominant print outlet is behind a paywall, I appreciate how much TV stations add to the daily diet of news consumers. Little Rock has been lucky to have four full TV news operation (KATV and KTHV continue, of course), plus the public affairs offerings of AETN. Any decrease in that as a result of the new combine is to be regretted.
Susie Ellwood, who's been executive vp and general manager at Gannett'sUSA Today, has been named new publisher of the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman newspaper, owned by Cox Media.
Ellwood began her media career in 1984 when she joined the Arkansas Gazette as VP and Director of Marketing, where she led the marketing effort to take the Gazette from being a privately held operation through to corporate ownership by Gannett.
The rest is history, as they say.
The Arkansas Business Publishing Group announced today that, along with some upgrades to its web presence, it would be closing Friday its Arkansas Sports 360 website.
Changes include a redesigned website for Arkansas Business. It's a step up from where I sit in display and ease of use. It will be "optimized," as the jargon goes, for phone and tablet users. A new jobs feature and a business blog are also part of the upgrade.
The sad news is the end of Arkansas Sports 360, which had built a substantial audience with reporting and comment from our old friend and colleague Jim Harris and Chris Bahn. From the release:
As part of that reallocation, ABPG will close ArkansasSports360.com, a daily website that has covered sports in Arkansas since 2007. The site’s ﬁnal day will be Friday.
“ArkansasSports360.com has attracted a tremendous audience of passionate sports fans from throughout the state,” Olivia Farrell, ABPG chairman and CEO, said. “The site has been an engaging read and a must visit for sports fans across the state and beyond. This is entirely to the credit of the site’s staff, contributors and freelancers.
“However, the site doesn’t ﬁt our company’s core mission of reaching highly targeted, niche audiences and has been difﬁcult to monetize,” she said. “We plan to take the time and energy devoted to sports and put it into Arkansas Business’ print and online products.”
The news follows the departure last week of the organization's long-time president and publisher, Jeff Hankins.
But here's a consumer tip: The price may be as negotiable as a rug in Istanbul.
A friend happened to walk into an office today where a man was on the phone to cancel his subscription to the Sunday-only Democrat-Gazette. The man lives in Little Rock and had been paying $7.95 a month. He gave us a copy of a letter saying his rate was going up effective Nov. 5 to $13.95 a month, a 75 percent increase. The letter noted that newspapers everywhere are raising circulation rates because of declines in ad revenue and that the D-G rates still compare favorably with those in other cities.
Sorry, the subscriber said. Too much.
No problem, the D-G employee on the other end of the line said. We'll extend your subscription for six months at the current rate. No increase.
Moral: Bargain. How can it hurt?
PS — That $13.95 for a Sunday paper and on-line access doesn't look so bad when you consider the newspaper website says a subscription for on-line-only access costs $28 a month. At least that's the sticker price.
Jeff Hankins has resigned as president and publisher of the Arkansas Business Publishing Group to "begin a new chapter in his career." He'd been with the company 19 years.
AB reports here. Senior management will assume his duties during the search for a successor, the story says.
Today's the day to do your duty.
I'll be raising money as usual this week BUT WITH A KEY DIFFERENCE.
I have a conflict Friday morning, during my normal last-day time slot. So Rosi Smith of Arkansas Children's Hospital and I will instead beg for support from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. TODAY. That's TODAY, Thursday.
It's simple call:
Or, on the web, at kuar.org.
The usual blog match will be in operation. Mention the Arkansas Blog when you make a pledge and I'll match up to $10 of your contribution. Identify yourself as a Republican and I'll make it $20.
UCA will continue to provide office space and $50,000 a year for magazine expenses. In turn, a news release said, the Oxford American will provide UCA two full page ads in each issue, two interns per academic year, an event each year on campus to promote the OA and its programs, and establish an editorial board with two positions being filled by representatives of UCA's College of Fine Arts and Communications and the Writing Department.
Oxford American formally acknowledges nearly $700,000 in past advances from UCA and agrees to repay them, at least half within five years.
Said the release:
"This new agreement clarifies the relationship between the University of Central Arkansas and The Oxford American Literary Project, Inc. As we move forward under this new five-year agreement, we are excited about the possibilities," UCA President Tom Courtway said. "The Oxford American is a prestigious, national literary publication with a very devoted readership. Under this agreement, the OA will continue to have a presence on the UCA campus; many of our excellent academic programs in writing and fine arts will be advertised; and our writing students will have the opportunity be involved, as will our faculty. We believe this is a very good arrangement. It provides benefits to both parties, and we look forward to working the OA publisher (Mr. Warwick Sabin) and his staff as we move forward."
Here's the final version of the agreement, approved unanimously by the board.
A review of the campus-magazine relationship followed controversy that accompanied the firing of the magazine's founder and editor, Marc Smirnoff, and managing editor Carol Ann Fitzgerald.
I don't care about their families or whatever. I just care how they vote on…
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eLwood - I'm surprised that you didn't know about that.
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