Happy birthday to us 

The Arkansas Times observes 30 years in business this week and if things had gone according to plan, I wouldn't be here to write about it. I dropped out of grad school in 1973 and landed a reporting job at the Arkansas Gazette thanks to kind words from a Stanford professor, Bill Rivers, who knew the Gazette's city editor, Bill Shelton. I would have been happy to die at the Gazette, had the Gazette not died first. In September 1991, before the Gazette closed, but when its fate was becoming clear, I got a call from Alan Leveritt. He offered me a job at the Times, should I need one. Come mid-October, I did. Shortly after, I was working for the Arkansas Times magazine, but planning for conversion of the monthly to a weekly newspaper the following May. Alan wanted to fill some of the void left by the Gazette's passing. Twelve years later, we're still at it. I had first met Alan soon after arriving in Little Rock in 1973. A UALR student, he worked the "crap desk" (writing obits and news briefs) at the Gazette. He'd started an independent publication on campus, but he dreamed of creating an Arkansas magazine that raked muck, entertained and, importantly, revered all that was Arkansas. It seemed grandiose for Alan's modest station at the time, to tell the truth. But it also smacked appealingly of the then-hot "new journalism." I remember sitting around the Gazette city desk with Alan, reading aloud bits of Tom Wolfe's article on astronauts in Rolling Stone, a piece that would grow into "The Right Stuff." It was writing and it was real, even if it wasn't much like journalism as practiced by the daily newspaper of record. Alan got his little publication started and a funny thing happened. The Gazette wouldn't allow its crap desk man to work for a "competitor." Goodbye crap desk. Alan would drive cabs, frequent low dives, beg, plead, borrow, deliver papers and do just about anything else to keep his little publication alive. I risked my own job by writing an article for the Times under a pseudonym. It wasn't exactly investigative journalism. I ate at every barbecue joint in the Little Rock Yellow Pages and filed an in-depth report. Took the photos, too. Earned the handsome sum of $25 after dunning Alan for months. We're here today - along with a bevy of spin-off publications - in large measure because of Alan's survival skills and unparalleled salesmanship. But to appreciate him, you need to know that it was ideas and journalism that brought him here, not money. When he decided that his skills were better used in sales than writing, it didn't lessen his determination to make a difference with the content of his publication. That explains our staff - larger and more experienced than most alternative weeklies - and the unusual amount of space we devote to editorial content. I know first-hand Alan's fearlessness. Several of the state's biggest advertisers won't do business with us because they don't like what we write. It is the cost of speaking the truth. I've never known a publisher more willing to pay the price. Here's looking at you, Al. Happy 30th.

From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • LR Central at 70

    The city of Little Rock has finished its "Reflections on Progress" observance of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School and the people most affected managed to put well-placed asterisks on the notion that this was a story all about racial progress.
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


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 Recent Comments

  • Re: Trust and obey

    • A very timely and beautifully written piece. Indeed, the whole frightening paradigm is about preserving…

    • on October 15, 2017
  • Re: Trust and obey

    • Anyone else ponder how many times donald trump, playboy for five-decades, may have paid for/insisted…

    • on October 14, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theories

    • Here's the business end of the Politifact article cited above by Vanessa: "Newsweek's claim is…

    • on October 14, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation