The Special Session, the Floods and Dillard’s on ‘Arkansas Week’

Back on “Arkansas Week” this week, we talked about Monday’s special session on the state severance tax, two state senators fighting for one senate seat, the Arkansas floods, a round of new and lost jobs and the Dillard’s/Barington Capital saga.

This week’s show featured myself, Jay Barth and Doug Thompson of the Arkansas News Bureau, with Steve Barnes, as always, moderating.

The show airs again Sunday morning, but you can listen it to it right here right now.


NCAA Tournament Wrap Up

It’s a been a hectic few days here at Arkansas Business, with our sports Web site and newspaper,, working the NCAA Basketball Tournament in North Little Rock. Here now, a look back at the weekend that was, with a few dispatches from Raleigh tossed in:

The Sunday round-up –  Razorbacks buried; Texas and Memphis advance; the Alltel crowd comes alive; celebrity sightings and more.

The Friday round-up –  Jim Harris has the best seat in the house; video from Alltel Arena; the Razorbacks surprise the Hoosiers; and a photo slideshow of all the action.

The Thursday round-up –  The calm before the storm; Rick Barnes gets booed; and previews galore.

Now wasn’t that fun? Here’s hoping this circus comes back to town soon.

Our Coverage of the NCAA Tournament in North Little Rock

Our sports publication,, is all over the NCAA Basketball Tournament in North Little Rock. Jim Harris is live at Alltel Arena, Chris Bahn is filing from Raleigh, N.C., with the Razorbacks, and Tre Baker and I are holding it down at the central hub at Arkansas Business Publishing Group offices downtown, as team busses barrel by every half hour or so. An exciting weekend.

Click here to see a round-up of Thursday coverage. And all our coverage is warehoused here, including links to other blogs, message boards and news sites.

PEJ Study: Internet ‘Profoundly’ Changing Journalism

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its latest report on the state of the news media, and the results seem fairly obvious: the Internet is “profoundly” changing journalism.

From the AP:

It was believed at one point that the Net would democratize the media, offering many new voices, stories and perspectives. Yet the news agenda actually seems to be narrowing, with many Web sites primarily packaging news that is produced elsewhere, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual State of the News Media report.


The news side of the business is dynamic, but the growing ability of news consumers to find what they want without being distracted by advertising is what’s making the industry go through some tough times.


“Although the audience for traditional news is maintaining itself, the staff for many of these news organizations tend to be shrinking,” said Tom Rosenstiel, the project’s director. … A separate survey found journalists are, to a large degree, embracing the changes being thrust upon them. A majority say they like doing blogs and that they appreciate reader feedback on their stories. When they’re asked to do multimedia projects, most journalists find the experience enriching instead of feeling overworked, he said. The newsroom is increasingly being seen as the most experimental place in the business, the report found.

As Internet Editor of since waaay back in 2000, I been able to see these changing taking shape first-hand. That latter point has been particularly challenging. It’s been difficult to train some print journalists to think in terms of new media. It’s also been hard to adjust from, say, a daily or weekly print schedule, to one that happens on an hour-by-hour, often minute-by-minute basis. Particularly when you pile Internet deadlines on top of existing print deadlines.

Add to that the opportunities to take advantage of more types of media on the Web (audio, video, slideshows), and the traditional print journalist has seen his or her jobs duties expand exponentially over the past 8 eight years.

That’s created the catch-22 that’s reflected in this latest PEJ report. While the Internet has offered all kinds of new ways to communicate with readers, it hasn’t yet reached the advertising critical mass that’s required to pay for it all. So newsrooms are being asked to do more with the same, or at the bigger daily newspapers, less.

Luckily, it appears, from this report, that most journalists have been happy to get involved in multimedia, finding it “enriching” instead of grueling. And obviously, as younger reporters, raised on all this multimedia, move into the ranks, working journalists will feel less put upon; satisfying all these new content demands will be second nature to them.

But the real crisis in journalism? PEJ says it’s juggling stories while trying to stand on multiple platforms. For us at Arkansas Business, that means we optimize stories for all manner of platforms. A hot story for our print edition might be posted online three days early, with extensive linking to our previous coverage and other informational sites online. That same story will be broadcast during our segments on KTHV-TV, Channel 11, rewritten and summarized for a general TV news audience. The online story will also appear in RSS feeds and e-newsletters, complete with a headlines — often radically different from the print counterpart — and summaries designed to quickly impart the basic news of the story and draw readers in. And finally, that story will be positioned in such a way as to be attractive to search engines, thereby riding high in Google organic and Google News searches.

It’s a great time to be in journalism. We can now to do more in print and online than ever before. We simply have to recognize that now is key point in the evolution of our business, and we must be prepared to meet all the challenges that come our way.

More on the study here.

Gwen Moritz on ‘Arkansas Week’: the Severance Tax

Our Arkansas Business Editor Gwen Moritz (RSS) was back on AETN’s “Arkansas Week” this week to talk about the state severance tax. Host Steve Barnes moderated a discussion among Gwen, Jay Barth and Rick Fahr of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway.

You can watch the show, which aired Friday, on Applie iTunes. There, you can subscribe to the video podcast, and have each show delivered to your iPod every week.

Of course, this was a big week for the severance tax, after Gov. Mike Beebe reached a tentative deal with some of the natural gas companies working in Arkansas to raise the tax to 5 percent. The deal contains others incentives, and between Beebe’s proposal and one by Sheffield Nelson for a 7 percent tax, it was obviously the more attractive one for the gas companies.

After the jump, links to‘s severance tax coverage. But first, here’s some of the latest discussion on the tax, including an amusing little dust-up between Nelson and the current chairman of the GOP in Arkansas, Dennis Milligan:

GOP Splits on Tax for Gas

Anti-severance taxer David Sanders thinks Mike Beebe was “arrogant” in his dealings with the gas companies

John Brummett on the pros and cons of the severance tax
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The End of ‘The Wire’

The Wire

Tonight, the final show of HBO’s Golden Age fades to black as “The Wire” ends its five-season run.

Here’s what some are writing as we prepare for the final episode of one of the greatest TV shows of all time, starting here, when we wondered: Has David Simon deadened “The Wire”?

Blake Rutherford notes the final episode.

The Baltimore Sun’s coverage here. Its review of tonight’s finale isn’t kind.

A blogger for the Kansas City Star – maybe one of Templeton’s old co-workers? – likes it.

USA Today surveys the series.

ABC video profiles Jamie Hector, the actor who plays drug kingpin Marlo Stanfield. Another Nightline video looks at Baltimore schools in the wake of season four.

The Washington Post’s video crew is on the set for the final shoot of the series.

Actors from the series talk about its “legacy of hope” in a roundtable discussion in the Los Angeles Times.

David Simon talks to NPR’s “Fresh Air” in this audio interview.

Simon responds to critics of the final season’s newspaper story arc.

NPR’s former arts editor blogs the show here.

The excellent House Next Door blog covers the show here. Also: The blog’s editors take on the great argument among TV critics: Which is the greatest show of all time, “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood” or “The Wire”?

The Root @ Slate: Final confessions of a “Wire” addict.

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Updated, Monday:  The day after the final episode airs, Salon’s Heather Havrilesky talks to Simon about the show.

Google’s Election Map

A very cool map from Google. You click on individual states, individual counties, to see results. Be sure to use the toggle to select results for the Democratic and Republican parties.

The map is powered by data from the Boston Globe, the Associated Press and Real Clear Politics.