- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Southwest Times Record. June 24, 2018.

“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.” - Henry Luce

In an era where fake news is everywhere, where people sometimes don’t know what (or whom) to believe, journalism is more important than ever. That’s why it’s so disheartening that the Arkansas Legislative Council approved new rules from the state Board of Education that eliminate the requirement that school districts offer journalism courses to their students.

While we’re disappointed in the lawmakers who didn’t place enough value on journalism to ensure school districts keep it around, all hope is not lost. School districts can still offer journalism as an elective if they choose (and we certainly hope they do) but with schools consistently facing budget cuts, we’re fearful that many will vote to drop it. We hope instead that school officials will consider ways to keep it around, whether by cutting back on how many classes are offered or by simply offering it to all students as a segment of their English classes. It’s that important.

When young people are given career options at an early age, they’re able to discover an interest in things they never expected to find, whether it’s journalism or something else. And journalism is more than just learning how to write and take photos - it’s learning how to report, how to fact-check, how to conduct yourself in an ethical manner, and so much more.

Most of all, it’s learning how to keep up what’s going on around the world, from day-to-day occurrences to national and local elections to tragedies like school shootings and natural disasters. We must continue to make sure our children are aware of what’s happening in not just their world, but in other parts of the planet as well. That awareness can only happen when journalists are out there doing their jobs. Do we expect all students who take journalism to become journalists? No. But it certainly has opened doors for many of us in the newspaper business.

But newspapers are dying, some might say. While this continues to be very untrue, we in the newspaper industry do recognize that we must change with the times. But we need journalists in order to succeed. They are the heart and soul of everything we do, whether it’s in print, online or elsewhere. We need them to tell the stories that are out there. We need them to keep a sharp eye on local, state and national governments as well as school boards to get important information out to the public. Imagine a governing body making a major decision (say, a local school board calling for a millage increase), and there was no one out there reporting on it? When people are unaware, they tend to believe anything, whether it’s true or not, without considering the source of the information. Trained journalists are the sources you can trust.

We thank the legislators who voted to support journalism in schools (including Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh, R-Van Buren, and Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron) and express our disappointment with the others. Dr. Gil Fowler of Arkansas State University, in a letter to legislators, says, “Journalism and its appreciation and practice is one of the principles that allows our country to be a leader in the world and to have the freedoms of thought and expression that make us such a wonderful land. By not exposing our students to the importance and value of these principles and opportunities, we are relegating our future to those who control thought through power and finances. We must all understand the importance and value of this profession to our future.” Well said.

We are eager to see how our local schools will react to the recent ruling. We’re hoping school officials recognize journalism’s importance in this era of “fake news,” where many of us (not just high school students) find information readily available at our fingertips. We must teach them to be skeptical, to question what they read, to not be vulnerable to misinformation. Journalism can do all that and more.


Texarkana Gazette. June 24, 2018.

It’s been a long time coming. But the wait may soon be over - well, fairly soon at least.

Developer Jim Sari recently took to social media and posted a timeline on for beginning construction on the landmark, though now derelict, Hotel Grim in downtown Texarkana.

Sari posted there will be a Texas-side City Council meeting on July 9 to give the final go-ahead on the project. Final application for state tax credits will be at the end of July. The closing is expected in November, with construction kicking in November or December, through the end of 2019.

With any luck, tenants can start moving in just after the New Year 2019.

We know, you’ve heard it all before. Yes, we’ve seen plans announced for the redevelopment of the Grim and other downtown properties that never came to fruition. But we don’t recall any with such promise. Obviously a lot of work went into this with more to come. The results should be worth it.

We support Sari’s efforts and wish him smooth sailing. We can’t wait to see new life in that grand old building.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. June 26, 2018.

The academy that hoped to open a year early in Little Rock has now decided to halt all efforts in that direction. It’s a crying shame. Maybe literally. We wonder how many mothers and fathers in that part of Little Rock had their hopes dashed … again. For can there be a worse feeling than having to send your child to a school that you know isn’t cutting it? (Suggested viewing: Waiting for “Superman.” Bring tissues.)

The planners at the Friendship Aspire Academy are to open a charter school in Pine Bluff this year, and in Little Rock next. But after another charter outfit pulled out of its Little Rock commitment, Friendship saw an opportunity to help some kindergartners and first-graders. And the panel that authorizes charters in Arkansas gave them the green light.

Unfortunately, the opposition to charter schools, and children’s education, was heard from. Even though the panel recommended the charter open in a perfectly good and renovated school, the Board of Education took up the matter for (at least) one more hearing.

Mike Poore, Little Rock’s superintendent, complained that the school district had already made staffing plans without a charter school on West 25th Street in mind. Which seems to put jobs higher on the priority list than education. The super also questioned whether the charter school could adequately get all its financial and education ducks in a row for the start of school. Well, the charter authorizing panel certainly thought so.

This is just one more example of the education establishment, helped along by certain politicians with friends in the teachers’ unions, keeping kids - mostly poor kids from minority neighborhoods—out of potentially life-changing education systems. And putting up any obstacle, any argument, to delay, delay, delay and possibly stop altogether. Chalk this one up as a win for that strategy.

It’s a crying shame.

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