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Influential Arkansans 

We highlight more than 50 who shape our state.

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Managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 1998 — and performing the duties of executive editor since Griffin Smith stepped down last April — David Bailey has to be one of the most influential people in the state. Though people have been sounding the death knell of the American newspaper for awhile, the Democrat-Gazette still has tremendous sway on the politics and attitudes of Arkansans, and Bailey is one of the chief minds behind what that paper is going to look like when it hits the doorstep.

Born in Natchez, Miss., Bailey has been a journalist his whole adult life. Fresh out of school, he worked at a newspaper in Natchez for a few months, then moved to Baton Rouge, where he worked at the Baton Rouge Advocate for almost 16 years. In 1988, he moved to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal and after that to the Hattiesburg American in Hattiesburg, Miss. He accepted a position with the Democrat-Gazette in 1993.

"I knew a little something about Little Rock," he said. "Although I didn't know any people here, I knew the town and I knew the newspaper. This newspaper has had a tremendous history and tradition. There's been a lot of good journalism in this town, so it was an easy decision to come here." He credits any influence he might have to his "remarkable" staff at the newspaper.

Since taking over Smith's duties in April, Bailey has seen the paper through several projects, including the rollout of its Plus Technology, which allows readers to scan a photo with their smart phone for video and other information. Overall, Bailey said he's hopeful about the prospects for the American newspaper.

"A lot of people predicted print would go away when television came along," he said. "A lot of people predicted it back in the 1970s when there was a little cable box you could put on top of your TV, and that didn't happen either. I think print will be around for a long, long time."

BRENT AND CRAIG RENAUD
Film

Brothers Brent and Craig Renaud have spent more than a decade traveling the world making documentary films. They've worked with the biggest players in the industry — HBO, NBC, PBS, the Discovery Channel and the online New York Times. They've won major prizes, including an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, the most prestigious award in broadcast and digital journalism, for a stirring web video report they did for the New York Times on the recovery of two Haitian children who were severely injured in the 2010 earthquake. They've trailed drug addicts ("Dope Sick Love"), filmed on the front lines ("Off to War"), dodged bullets in the Mexican drug war (a multi-part series for the New York Times) and interviewed Olympians Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis (for a U.S. Olympic team YouTube channel). Somehow, they've also found time to contribute, perhaps more than any others, to Arkansas's growing film culture — founding and programming the Little Rock Film Festival, which has quickly grown into a regional juggernaut, and founding the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute, a new umbrella nonprofit under which all of the state's film festivals will collaborate. Next up: A fall premiere of their documentary on a 10-year-old boy awaiting a heart transplant for almost a year, his twin brother and their Russian immigrant parents. It's a "heavy" story, Craig said recently, but that's territory in which the Renauds thrive, as Brent acknowledged earlier this year in his acceptance speech for the duPont-Columbia. "Our goal with all of our films is to tell a simple, honest, human story about [subjects that] can sometimes be incomprehensible and hopeless."

IRMA GAIL HATCHER
Quilting

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