OT (sorta): Arkansas Gazette and OH

I recorded a show on AETN last night and I just got a chance to watch it. The program was called Old Gray Lady Arkansas’s First Newspaper. I was not aware of some of the machinations that went on during the LR newspaper wars.

One of the fascinating things was about the loss of Orville Henry to the Democrat. After Gannett took over the Gazette, it seems that their folks had no clue about OH’s value, complaining about the length of his columns and other issues. At one point, they actually ran a column from the previous week. OH left before the Gazette died.

I was on the Gannett payroll when OH left. It was pretty clear at that point that the newspaper war was almost over, and I wasn’t on the winning side. That was confirmed in mid-October, when we never got to put out the game day paper for the last Texass game in WMS.


Orville saw the handwriting on the wall and bailed before it was too late. One interesting thing regarding that is that after he did I was at a Function where Wally Hall was the speaker and he told the story that supposedly when he first started Orville told him he might should think about another line of work, then he went to say “Well look is working for who now”. Of course it was BS, Orville didn’t report to Wally, he was hired by Housman and that is who controlled him. It was a sad day when the old Grey Lady went down. I have framed George Fisher’s last editorial cartoon signed by him. He sat at a table in front of the building that night at the wake signing copies of it.

I always thought the state lost when the Democrat won that war. I’d have preferred both papers to have survived, but if one had to go, I wish it had been the Democrat. JR Starr was a complete jerk. He was unrelentingly harsh on Nolan even when his daughter was dying. Today its subscription prices are way too high, but I still pay it because it’s about the only source for state & local news. TV news is just too short to give much info.

But to your point, Gannett was just awful. It failed to support the better staff in sports & news reporting in general. It went to that awful USA Today format. I knew when OH left it was over.

Watching Hussman praise JR Starr was just sickening. He seemed to have no concept of what JRS was. I had not realized how the Democrat (under Gannett) had given away so many advertising freebies to gain ground. And they never did understand that the Gazette was a serious paper.

In addition to the OH debacle, the loss of the Dillard’s account didn’t help the Gazette either.

Another thing that I had not realized was that the iconic pictures of the young black girl trying to integrate Central were taken by Gazzette photographers. I had not known of the many awards that they received for that coverage, including two Pulitzers (which had never before been given to a single newspaper.)