In the Firing Squad for Tonight’s AETN Governors Debate Among Mike Beebe, Jim Keet and Jim Lendall

AETN's video-heavy election page

AETN's video-heavy election page. Nicely done.

I’m among the panelists for today’s hour-long gubernatorial debate starring incumbent Mike Beebe (D), Jim Keet (R) and Jim Lendall (G). We tape the debate at 2 p.m. in Conway and it airs tonight at 8 p.m. on your local Arkansas Educational Television Network affiliate.

Also on tonight’s panel: Ron Breeding of NPR affiliate KUAR-FM and Bill Simmons of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I haven’t seen anyone’s questions except my own, but I expect hot topics to include jobs, the economy, health care and, more than likely, state vehicles.

Each panelist gets ask two questions, so expect six questions total, plus opening and closing statements from each of the candidates.

Today’s debate is part of a series of debates airing each weeknight this week on AETN stations as well as on KUAR. Also tonight: the Lt. Governors debate between Shane Broadway (D) and Mark Darr (R), airing at 7 p.m.. And on Wednesday, Arkansas Business Editor Gwen Moritz is on the panel for the U.S. Senate debate, and Publisher Jeff Hankins will be part of Friday’s Attorney General debate.

You can see the full schedule of this week’s debates at AETN’s Web site here.

And speaking of that site, kudos to AETN for a solid multimedia Web effort. In its excellent debates section, you can see videos of each of the debates and conversations with voters.

Update: You can watch the full debate here.


Heart & Soul: Lincoln, Halter Guest on ‘Talk of the Nation’ to Talk Democratic Party Identity

Re: This storyline from the U.S. Senate campaign in Arkansas between incumbent Blanche Lincoln and challenger Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, both candidates are said to be guests on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” program today at 1 p.m. local time. That’s 89.1, KUAR, on your local terrestrial radio dial.

Here’s the pitch:

We’ve spent plenty of time this year talking about the divisions in the Republican Party, mostly about the rise of the Tea Party, and also focusing on the various primaries where the ideological differences are most pronounced, such as Florida, Texas and Arizona.

But there are divisions in the Democratic Party as well, and we saw that during the negotiations over health care.  Perhaps the biggest stage where two wings of the party are trying to define what exactly is a Democrat is Arkansas, where centrist Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces a spirited primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, backed by many progressive groups.  The primary is May 18.

Both Lincoln and Halter are our special guests today during the Political Junkie segment on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

(Noted: No D.C. Morrison!)

It’s unclear whether Lincoln and Halter will appear together. That’d be too much fun to realistically hope for!

Update: Show’s over! Halter and Lincoln appeared separately with hosts Ken Rudin and Neal Conan and rehashed a lot of what we heard during last weekend’s Democratic debates, including lamenting the negative tone of the campaign. Both candidates took calls from Arkansas listeners, including two from Hot Springs and a Lincoln supporter in Fayetteville.

After the jump, a tedious recap of an equally tedious hour of radio!

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Killing the Pass-along: Slate’s Jack Shafer on the New York Times Imminent Paywall

Slate media writer Jack Shafer assess what little we now know about the New York Times’ plan to install a metered paywall on its hugely popular Web site,

According to a memo from Times publishers, the site will allow nonsubscribers a certain amount of free article views per month before shutting off access to full articles and asking for some sort of payment or subscription.

The plan is similar to once in practice at the Financial Times. And like the Financial Times paywall, there’s likely to be lots of ways around the New York Times’ paywall and — take note amateur hackers — Shafer spells out most of them in his Slate article.

But whatever the Times does, the question all publisher must ask themselves is this:

… [I]s deterring readers in the New York Times Co.’s best interest? Newspaper publishers have traditionally encouraged free riders. Every newspaper or magazine rate sheet I’ve ever seen crows to advertisers about the phenomenal pass-along rate of their paid circulation. One paying customer, they’ll boast, equals three or four or even five readers! Now comes the Web era and the publishers suddenly want to exile “pass-along” readers?

Journalism doesn’t have an access crisis. It has, like Shafer points out, an advertising crisis. Hm. That sounds familiar.

More on the Paywall

Felix Salmon thinks NYT will offer 15-20 free stories per month, with subscriptions of between $15/month, $99/year [Reuters]

A metered system allows the Times to “maintain not only visibility on the Web, but also still participate in selling a mass audience to advertisers.” [NYTimes’ Media Decoder Blog]

Washington Post Publisher: No paywall for us [NPR]

Molding Young Minds at UALR High School Journalism Day

Much thanks to the Sonny Rhodes and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for inviting me to speak during two sessions of UALR’s annual Journalism Day event, which took place Thursday.

Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press gave the event’s keynote address on “Why Journalism Matters,” and other session leaders included Frank Fellone of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Kelly Kissel of the AP and Malcolm Glover of KUAR-FM, 89. 1, the Little Rock NPR affiliate.

I spoke in two sessions, the first on “Why Your High School Newspaper Needs to Be Online,” and the second on ” … So You’re Online, Now What?” The students were great and asked some solid questions.

I also took the opportunity to ask some questions about teen media habits. And needless to say, everything you’ve heard about how teens engage (or don’t engage) with media is probably pretty close to true.

  • Most of them don’t read newspapers — less than half of the 20 in my first session said they read the local daily on a weekly basis, and none of them read it daily.
  • Many of them said they spend at least 4 hours a day online. One student said he’ll often spend half a Saturday online.
  • They text message one another like crazy. When I told them about a study that showed the average teen sends 2,000 texts a month, many told of numbers double that. And because they’re heavy texters, their parents are, too. One student said his Mom sent 5,000 messages one month.
  • Facebook is the hotness, but MySpace is dunzo.
  • They watch TV, but usually while surfing the Web.
  • Many of them say they read magazines.
  • Oh — and none of them Twitter.

None of their high school papers were online, but a couple of schools seemed poised to invest in the Web soon. One of the big concerns for students and their advisers was finding a way to fairly moderate reader comments.

In all, it was an enjoyable session. Despite the turmoil that traditional media (newspapers, TV, radio) find themselves in, I still believe it’s an exciting time to be a journalism student. The possibilities the Web offers young reporters and editors are boundless. No longer are students defined by the medium for which they work. On the Web, the lines have blurred, and they can each be involved in writing, video, photography, audio production, Web programming and more. And given the current state of media, with all the economic and organizational challenges that exist, they have a chance to help reshape the profession as it asserts itself on mobile and online platforms.

It’s a thrilling time for those kids, and 14 years out of high school, I’m a little envious.

Media Notes: Inside Saline Debuts; ‘FaceFriend’ Announced; Local, Local Local!

Old school THV logo

Old school THV logo

Please excuse us while we navel-gaze. The latest bits from around the media world, Arkansas and beyond:

AirheadsBlake Rutherford guests today on 103.7 The Buzz from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tune in for a taste of the his new radio show, starting this weekend.

Web Jones –  Whit Jones, the former editor of the Benton Courier, has launched, an online-only news site, promising to “take you inside news and politics in Saline County. Behind the headlines, if you will.”

Tower of PowerWAMU’s Diane Rehm is coming to Little Rock Sept. 3 to help raise money for KUAR’s new broadcast tower.

Local, Local, LocalSmall newspapers have figured out that if you report local news, people will read it! Also, having no competition – or Craigslist – helps.

The Only Game in Town – Are people really surprised that, now that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has failed and there’s no longer a JOA weighing them down and they’ve cut staff to the bone, the Seattle Times has posted a profit? Really?

Flip the Scripp – Also posting profits – cutbacks help! – the E.W. Scripps Co. But the newspaper company reports print revenue down 29 percent.

Picture ThisA world without professional photogs, thanks to all you smarty-pants amateurs with your iPhones and your Twitters and Flickrs and your iReports. Boo! Even Annie Leibovitz can’t put food on the table.

Meanwhile, Back at the RanchDon Imus might be coming back to cable TV news, this time on Fox Business.

Let’s Be FriendsFacebook spends $50 million to buy FriendFeed, which most of you haven’t even heard of. For what it’s worth, you can follow my FriendFeed here.

Wishful Thinking – A look at some of the wishful business models at play by those who want to charge for online news content.

Today’s DG: Kinkade v. Simon, re: Newspapers

Enough with the laments. The future of newspapers may be grim, but the future of journalism is promising, thanks in part to the energy and dynamism that Web publishers and other online players bring to the game. Rather than bemoaning those contributions, Simon and the rest of the lamenters should start figuring out what they can bring to the evolving media sphere.

David Kinkade of The Arkansas Project, in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Perspectives section, responding to former journalist and “The Wire” creator David Simon’s testimony to a Congressional subcommittee on the future of newspapers.

The complete column here. Simon’s complete testimony here (PDF), and more from NPR’s “On the Media.”


Simon: Death of Newspapers Signals a Great Time for Corruption

The End of “The Wire”

Blogger Shares ‘True Mom Confessions’ Saturday in Little Rock

Time for confession

Time for confession

Blog alert! Kyran Pittman, an Arkansas native who blogs at Notes to Self, will be speaking and signing books at Wordsworth Books on Saturday in the Heights in Little Rock.

The book in question, “True Mom Confessions,” features essays from mothers of all walks of life sharing heartbreaking, hilarious, frank and outrageous stories of raising children. It sprang from the comments contained on this blog,

Pittman, who is also a contributing editor to Good Housekeeping, is one of the many moms sharing her story within its pages.

Interestingly, the book has sparked all kinds of discussion about motherhood, particularly about what’s good mother behavior, what’s bad mother behavior, and whether these books and Web sites are a bad thing.

On her blog today, Pittman talks about the reactions the book has received:

The point of the book isn’t to condemn or condone the particulars, but to tell the secrets, relatable, poignant, unimaginable, wonderful, despicable. To bioposy a slice of motherhood and just hold it up for what it is: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the hilarious. The Today Show coverage of the book got that. The commenters to the Wall Street Journal story didn’t. Romi, the book’s editor, summed it all up nicely on Huffington Post recently. I don’t know what it is about our society that we have such a hard time accepting the multitude of experiences there are in raising children, or why we mothers are so jumpy whenever motherhood is up for discussion.

Want to share in the multitude of experiences? Come out to Wordsworth on Saturday. Our monthly family magazine, Little Rock Family, is one of the event’s sponsors. You can get more details here.

And be sure to read more from Pittman at her blog here, her Twitter account here and at Good Housekeeping here.

More on the Book

Coverage from “The Today Show”

The book’s editor, Romi Lassally, on The Huffington Post

Lassally on NPR