Did publisher's politics contribute to column cancellation? | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Did publisher's politics contribute to column cancellation?

Posted By on Sat, Apr 9, 2011 at 6:57 AM

PUBLISHER TAKE OFFENSE? Column on teachers.
  • PUBLISHER TAKE OFFENSE? Column on teachers.
April 6, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette readers got the last installment of Forces of Nurture, a column on mothering started in 2008 by staff writers Cindy Murphy and Cathy Frye. They said they’d be turning their attention to posts on their “mommy blog,” littlerockmamas.com.

On the blog, Murphy commented April 5, “ Cathy and I are pretty heartbroken that the column has been canceled, but we’ve resolved to move forward and focus more of our energy on the website.”

“Canceled”? That word wasn’t used in the print farewell. Neither Frye nor Murphy responded when I inquired about rumors that politically oriented commentary, specificallly a March 23 column by Frye, contributed to the cancellation.

Headlined “Everyone pays when states cut school aid,” that column ripped Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “daft” finance plan because it could lead to teacher layoffs. She called out anti-union Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. She lamented low pay, crowded classrooms and a “growing willingness to address budget deficiencies by stiffing kids and schools.”

Our point? Walter Hussman, publisher of the D-G, is not known for abundant warmth toward government spending generally or local public schools or teachers, particularly of the Education Association variety. (Special exception for the e-Stem charter school that produced a huge real estate profit for him recently.)

Was the cancellation coincidental? Maybe. But people in the newsroom keep sending messages that they believe that the publisher's politics led to the abrupt decision to end the column after the March 23 entry. I'd additionally note that Frye mentioned in a column not long ago — matter of factly — the newspaper's unpaid furloughs and payroll cuts while talking about economic pressures in today's tough times. Deputy Editor Frank Fellone "respectfully" declined my invitation to talk about the column's disappearance.

My kids are grown and I have no grandchildren to spoil. So I don't need mommy advice currently. For whatever the reason, I'll miss the related commentary. Weak tea is a poor substitute.

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