The story of the Arkansas Gazette ended on October 18, 1991, with paper's sale to its rival, the Arkansas Democrat. The story shows a typical transformation of an American newspaper from independent, local ownership to remote corporate control that illustrates what happened to many American newspapers in the generation following World War II.
Wounded by the fiercest newspaper war in the United States, former publisher J. N. Heiskell's heirs sold the Gazette to the Gannett Corporation in 1986, the country's largest newspaper chain.
But it was the inability of the Gazette's key players to cope with the challenges of Arkansas' newspaper war, which has lessons for today's tumultuous climate that has only intensified since 1991 when the Gazette died.
On this episode of Arts & Letters, we again join University of Central Arkansas journalism professor Donna Lampkin Stephens, who serves as our guide through the Gazette’s final years. In the program we also hear from former reporters, editors and executives from the once warring papers. Lampkin Stephens' book, If It Ain't Broke, Break It: How Corporate Journalism Killed the Arkansas Gazette was published by the University of Arkansas Press in 2015.
Stephens was a sportswriter for the Arkansas Gazette from 1984 until the newspaper’s close. She produced the documentary films The Old Gray Lady: Arkansas’s First Newspaper (2006) and The Crisis Mr. Faubus Made: The Role of the Arkansas Gazette in the Central High Crisis (2010) and has traveled the state presenting the films to students and teachers.
Support for this program was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.