The Election, the Economy: A Scary Edition of ‘Arkansas Week’ Tonight

Click here to listen to MP3 audio of today’s show.

So there you have it. In the headline, my one required Halloween joke of the day. Boo.

Tonight’s edition of “Arkansas Week” (8 p.m., AETN stations throughout Arkansas) touches on the major stories making news this week, with myself, Ron Blome and Hoyt Purvis on the panel, moderated by host Steve Barnes.

There’s the economy, which saw negative gross domestic product numbers for the third quarter out this week, along with a big drop in consumer spending, which of course signal recession. While many folks have been saying for about a year now that we’re heading that way or already in one, it appears the numbers are now falling in line. That classic definition of recession (two consecutive quarters of negative GDP) appears just around the corner.

Also: two Arkansas retailers make news. There’s this today from on Dillard’s, who’s independent Class B board members, Warren Stephens among them, have defended Dillard’s CEO William Dillard II and his siblings, all company executives, from calls from activist shareholders that they step down. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. makes plans to slow new store growth at home, while putting more and more into growth overseas.

And of course, we touch on the shootings at the University of Central Arkansas this week, the death of KATV-TV, Channel 7, anchorwoman Anne Pressly and that big thing that’s happening on Tuesday, whatever that is.

You can find video today on iTunes.


KATV: 800 at Anne Pressly’s Funeral; Investigation Continues

KATV-TV, Channel 7, reports today that about 800 people, including Gov. Mike Beebe, attended the funeral of slain anchorwoman Anne Pressly.

Mourners began filling the 650 seats in the sanctuary of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church more than an hour before the service was set to begin. Another 150 or so watched on television monitors in a vestibule and parlor.

The crowd included nearly the entire KATV staff, plus dozens of reporters and photographers from the ABC affiliate’s competitors. Governor Mike Beebe and several Little Rock police officers also attended.

During the nearly two-hour service, the Right Reverend T.J. Johnson said it’s difficult to imagine Pressly at eternal rest in heaven because she was so full of energy during her life on earth.

KATV adds here that, as of Wednesday, police still had no new information on the investigation. Little Rock Police had to clarify statements reported earlier that they were after a particular suspect. The LRPD also added that their receiving tips from all over the country, and are working through them all to find “accurate” information.

Comments on the Pressly story, which has received national — even international — attention, have filled local news Web sites. KATV has set up a central page to archive all its coverage on the story. You can see that page here.


Stories from

The Think Tank on the Final Days, the Bradley Effect & More

Blake Rutherford’s Blake’s Think Tank blog is rocking today, and continues to be a choice go-to destination for local thought on the presidential race.

First, Rutherford explores just why the McCain campaign seems to so happy these days, with many polls (and, by extension) electoral scenarios, showing him as a longshot on Tuesday:

Polls do appear to be tightening in the states McCain has to win.  Polls released today show Obama up 4 in Pennsylvania, 1 in Indiana, 4 in Ohio, and 4 in Florida.  If I’m McCain – and considering where his campaign has been – I’m pretty fired up about those numbers.

Rutherford goes on to point out five things that could contribute to an Obama loss on Tuesday. Among them, a fizzling of the Youth Vote. This is supposed to finally be the Youth Vote’s year. Will they show? History says no.

Also on the Tank today: thoughts on the Bradley Effect. Is it real? Will it matter next week?

All that and more at Blake’s Think Tank.

Barack Obama’s Ron Popeil Moment

UPDATED: Obama’s ratings: about 30 million people watched the special, which aired on 8 networks. More from Lisa De Moraes.

Original post:

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama aired his half-hour campaign infomercial last night on three of the four major TV networks (ABC turned down the buy) and some other basic cable channels (including BET and MSNBC).

You can catch my Twitter wisecracks here, here, here, here and here. (You’re right. I’ll keep my day job.)

As to be expected from this meticulous Obama campaign, everything about the ad was technically brilliant, from the carefully selected profiles of middle-class families from key swing states to the live event in Florida that capped the half-hour.

Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales gushes over the show’s production values and — no kidding — Capraesque storyline. But the Trailhead blog at Slate thinks beyond the tube, arguing that the spot portends an immaculately staged Obama presidentcy. I can’t say I disagree:

Smart propaganda does not a smart administration make. If anything, it means we have to be more vigilant in calling out theater when we see it. But whatever the next four years may bring, we’re in for some damn good camera angles.

My snap reaction to the spot? Good theater, and a nice way to end the campaign maintaining enthusiasm among supporters. And it’s probably a little demoralizing to the John McCain campaign that it simply cannot match Obama’s campaign in terms of spending.

Backlash? I doubt it. Folks who liked Obama will probably still like him; folks who don’t, this wouldn’t have changed their minds. The real question is what independents think. Does this tip the scale for them at all? That’s something we simply won’t know until next week.

What did you think? Was the spot a good idea? Did you like it? Or was it too presumptuous?


Politico’s Arena weighs in on whether the ad was effective

Gannett Cuts Staff, Christian Science Monitor Goes Online-only

We’d missed some of this yesterday, so here’s to catching up with new developments on the newspaper front, as big players continue to cut costs as advertising slows and circulation sinks.

From the AFP:

Gannett, the largest US newspaper chain, slashed more jobs Tuesday and the 100-year-old Christian Science Monitor said it was ending its print edition, the latest cost-cutting moves in an ailing US newspaper industry.

Gannett Co. Inc.’s plan to cut another 10 percent of its newspaper staff and the Monitor’s decision to drop print for an Internet-based strategy come as US newspapers suffer steep declines in circulation and advertising revenue.

In Arkansas, Gannett owns the Little Rock CBS TV affiliate, KTHV-TV, Channel 11, and the north Arkansas daily newspaper, the Baxter Bulletin. No word yet on how the newspapers cuts might be felt in Arkansas.

Gannett’s stock has been dragged down by its newspaper division, which includes USA Today. But as the excellent Gannett Blog points out, the flagship paper once again escaped the ax:

Gannett’s flagship today once more escaped the ax, even as the company ordered its other 84 U.S. dailies to chop another 10% of jobs by early December.

You’ll recall that USA Today apparently didn’t give up any jobs during the big August layoff — prompting my speculation that Publisher Craig Moon (left) would need to sacrifice something in return. Guess what: I was totally wrong!

Meanwhile, the Chrisitan Science Monitor will become the first national U.S. newspaper to go online-only, beginning in April. It says it will continue to offer weekly print and daily email editions. But emphasis now is soley on the Web.

Again, from AFP:

“We plan to take advantage of the Internet in order to deliver the Monitor’s journalism more quickly, to improve the Monitor’s timeliness and relevance, and to increase revenue and reduce costs,” said Judy Wolff, chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Christian Science Publishing Society.

The next five years will be interesting. We might see more newspapers take the Monitor’s lead. These new business models, scaled to smaller online ad dollars that support most likely a smaller editorial staff, will be a major test for the industry.

Consider this about the Monitor: Print circ is about 50,000. But it says the paper’s Web site,,  attracts about 1.5 million visitors a month. Editor John Yemma tells AFP that “a modest reduction” in the paper’s 95-person editorial staff is likely once the move to online is complete.


I don’t know for sure that print is dead, but I don’t think it’s doing very well.” [Forbes]

“Everyone who grew up with print, and everyone who worked in print like me, you feel a little sad.” [Washington Post]

Time Inc. to lay off 600 [New York Times]

On Time’s restructuring [New York Post]

For readers, the drastic diminishment of print raises an obvious question: if more people are reading newspapers and magazines, why should we care whether they are printed on paper? [New York Times]

The Obligatory Twitter Post: ‘Follow You, Follow Me,’ Etc.

UPDATE: More on Twitter from Emily Reeves and Blake Rutherford.

As you can tell from the blog’s right rail, I’ve been at it for months now. Now I’m ready to say, “Follow me on Twitter.”

Twitter is that addictive little service that allows you to post “tweets,” or short, 140-character updates in a blog-like format. You can see my Twitter page here at

Twitter asks you to answer the question, “What are you doing now?” Some people take this literally, providing short updates on every aspect of their day (“Washing clothes,” “Watching ‘Mad Men,'” “Going through e-mails”).

But others have adapted the service to their own needs. Many news services have Twitter streams. The New York Times, CNN, Marketwatch and many others (including local news outlets like KTHV, KATV, KLRT and the Log Cabin Democrat) provide news headlines and links to fresh stories. Others use Twitter to live blog events, including the presidential debates, public meetings, whatever.

To me, this is where Twitter really sings. It allows me to post quick links to breaking news stories, new blog postings/news articles on ABPG Web sites, and off-site stories I find interesting. And that’s how I’ve been using it the last several months.

More on Twitter, breaking news, mobile Twittering, and a growing list of Twitter users in Arkansas, after the jump.

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Stephens-owned Las Vegas Newspaper to Trim Staff Through Buyouts

Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times notes this report from the Las Vegas Sun, which says Stephens Media Group‘s flagship newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is looking to cut staff through buyouts.

The Review-Journal is the Nevada city’s dominant newspapers.

From the Sun:

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, citing the bad economy, is offering buyouts to between 50 and 100 employees to reduce payroll costs.

In a memo distributed to the Review-Journal’s staff Monday, publisher Sherman Frederick said cutbacks are necessary because, despite the newspaper’s circulation gains, ad revenue has fallen in the face of the local and national economic downturn.

“I wish we did not have to take this step,” Frederick wrote. “But, after much thought, I believe it is necessary and prudent in view of economic conditions.”

Times are tough all over.