Favorite

Ask the Times: What was the first alternative 'media' in Arkansas? 

click image X-Ray University of Arkansas demonstration
  • Courtesy of the University of Arkansas Special Collections
  • An X-Ray-inspired student demonstration in 1912.

Arkansas Blog commenter radical centrist writes: "What was the first 'alternative media' in Arkansas? The oldest I've heard of was The X-Ray underground newspaper published in Fayetteville around 1910, but were there others before that? Do any copies of The X-Ray still exist?"

Well, it depends on what you mean by "alternative."

Arkansas Times is the oldest surviving "alternative weekly" in the state, first hitting the streets as the Union Station Times on Sept. 5, 1974, with a cover story on churches fleeing downtown for West Little Rock. An even older example of the alt weekly format, though, was Fayetteville's The Grapevine. Started as a free weekly in 1970, the paper survived until the early 1990s. The Grapevine covered local culture, music and events — including some of the first reporting on the near-hypnotic appeal of a young UA law professor named Bill Clinton.

If, however, we're talking about an alternative to the established newspaper, then the first alternative media in the state has to be The Arkansas Advocate, which began publishing in March 1830 as a political counterpoint to the 11-year-old Arkansas Gazette. The Arkansas Advocate was founded by Robert Crittenden, who had been appointed by President James Monroe in 1819 as secretary of the Arkansas Territory. A wheeler-dealer politician and attorney who almost singlehandedly convinced the territorial legislature to move the capital from Arkansas Post to Little Rock (where Crittenden owned quite a bit of land) in 1820, Crittenden created The Arkansas Advocate pretty much because he didn't like the things Gazette publisher William Woodruff had to say about him and his political goals.

In terms of racial alternatives in the media, the first African-American newspaper in the state was The Arkansas Freeman. First published in 1869, the paper was founded by a committee of African Americans on the campus of Philander Smith College. It remained in publication for only one year.

The X-Ray might not have been the first alternative media in the state, but it is at the center of a fascinating bit of early free speech protest and civil disobedience. Published only briefly in 1912, it was a student-produced alternative to the University of Arkansas's official student newspaper. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, The X-Ray "criticized a number of university and local conditions" in a manner that many deemed insulting to professors and UA administrators, angering school officials enough that 36 students involved in the writing, printing and circulation of the paper were summarily expelled from the university in February 1912. Only after widespread class attendance boycotts, mass protests involving over 700 students, and a deal brokered by the governor's office were the expelled students allowed to return to class. On the upside, the X-Ray expulsions and protests (along with another crisis over a group expulsion in 1919) led directly to the creation of the student government system at UA.

According to the interim head of special collections, Timothy Nutt, the special collections wing of the University of Arkansas library has two physical copies of The X-Ray among its collection, which are available to view on microfilm, as well as a student-created scrapbook that features pages from The X-Ray and newspaper clippings about the ensuing protests.

A previous version of this article said that the oldest African-American newspaper we could find in the historical record was The Helena Golden Epoch, first published in 1881. Thanks to Encyclopedia of Arkansas editor Guy Lancaster for correcting us.
Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Inquizator: Holt Condren

    Holt Condren is an explorer and entrepreneur based in Maumelle, the founder of Ink Custom Tees and the author of "Surf the Woods: The Ordinary Man's Trail Map to the Extraordinary Life." He's also featured in a new documentary, "Finding Noah," which follows a team of archeologists and theologians to Mount Ararat, in Turkey, on a search for Noah's Ark. The film will premiere with a multicity one-night-only screening at 7 p.m. Oct. 8.
    • Oct 1, 2015
  • The devil is in the details at the Arkansas state Capitol

    The proposed Ten Commandments monument vs. the Satanic Temple's proposed Baphomet statue.
    • Aug 17, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Latest in The Big Picture

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas archeologist does his job, is asked to leave

    Amid Department of Arkansas Heritage project.
  • The sweet hereafter

    This week, the Arkansas Times falls back on that oldest of old chestnuts: a recipe issue. Being who we are, of course, we had to put a twist on that; namely, the fact that most of the recipes you'll find in these pages are courtesy of people who have shuffled off to that great kitchen in the sky, where the Good Lord is always whipping up new things in his toque and apron, running the great mixers of genetics and time, maybe presenting the batter-dipped beaters and bowls to Jesus for a lick down.
  • Dems path forward

    The Arkansas Dems can lead by doing the opposite of what the national Dems did when they reelected the same leadership in charge since the equally embarrassing losses as seen in Arkansas. Electing 75-plus-year-olds is no way to embrace the youth.
  • 2017 legislature spreads its wings

    Also, Asa on Trump, schmoozing schedule and more.
  • Tomb to table

    A Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation