In the fourth installment of this year's "How I Got That Story" series, Arkansas Times associate editor David Koon talks to Corina Knoll about his feature profile of writer Mohja Kahf, a novelist, poet and sex columnist working to change public perception of Muslim women. Koon talks about finding the story, trying to paint a true picture of a sympathetic source, and how his creative writing background informs his work. "A lot of the things I know -- how to create character, how to create mood and theme -- translate straight across to features," he says. "I think a lot of people who gravitate toward alternative journalism and do it well come from a creative-writing background."

Continue ReadingHow I Got That Story: David Koon

The First Amendment provides no guarantee that witnesses should be able to see every step of an execution in Arkansas, a federal judge ruled as she dismissed a lawsuit by the Arkansas Times and local chapters of the ACLU and the Society for Professional Journalists, the AP reports. The suit sought to allow journalists to witness the prisoner as (s)he is led to the execution chamber, strapped down, and inserted with IVs. In her ruling, the judge wrote that executions have "moved from the public square to inside prison walls," an area where the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled reporters have no special right to access. "Even if constitutionally we don't have a right to be there at every step of that process, public accountability demands that we should be," Times editor Max Brantley says, adding that he and the other parties would confer with lawyers before deciding whether to appeal the ruling.

Continue ReadingFederal Judge Dismisses Arkansas Times Lawsuit on Executions

The Times made the jump to blogging in 2004 at a time when many AAN papers had yet to do so with the simply-named Arkansas Blog. Since then, its website, which started as a niche resource for its print readers, has evolved into a daily must-read for just about everyone in the state, from politicians to daily newspaper editors and, with the additional in-house blogs Rock Candy and Eat Arkansas, music and food junkies. AAN News recently spoke with editor and full-time blogger Max Brantley on what blogging has done for the Times.

Continue ReadingArkansas Times Editor Talks About the Impact of Blogging on the Paper

Representatives from Alltel, Tyson Foods, and Stephens Inc. have joined the American Civil Liberties Union, activists, and the Times (which also publishes El Latino, a Spanish-language weekly) in a coalition aimed at stopping any state or local legislation targeting illegal immigration, Forbes reports. The members of the Arkansas Friendship Coalition were inspired to act by a few developments: a handful of local police agencies partnering with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce federal immigration law; a failed effort in the state legislature that would have criminalized harboring or transportating illegal immigrants; and Gov. Mike Beebe's request that Arkansas State Police pursue an agreement with the federal government that would allow troopers to enforce immigration law. Times publisher Alan Leveritt helped lay the groundwork for the group's formation with an August cover story on Little Rock's immigrant community.

Continue ReadingArkansas Times Organizes Coaltion to Fight Immigration Measures

The alt-weekly joins local chapters of the ACLU and the Society for Professional Journalists in suing the director of the Arkansas Department of Corrections for full access to executions, the AP reports. Arkansas only allows media or the public to watch the period of the execution after the inmate is already strapped to the gurney until right after (s)he dies, not as intravenous tubes are inserted and removed from the inmate. "The public has a First Amendment right to view executions from the moment the condemned is escorted into the execution chamber," the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court, reads.

Continue ReadingArkansas Times & Others File Suit Against Arkansas Prisons Chief

Warwick Sabin, the alt-weekly's columnist, reporter and blogger, will leave next month to be associate vice president for communications for the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas Business reports. Sabin, who joined the Times in 2004 after working for the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation and played an important role in creating the Times' popular Arkansas Blog, will earn $92,000 in his new job, according to the Times.

Continue ReadingArkansas Times’ Associate Editor to Leave for University PR Post

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's free weekly will target young readers by focusing on entertainment and short news items, according to the Arkansas Times. Internal memos provided to the Times reportedly reference the alt-weekly repeatedly, and reveal that "Focus" and "Mo" (as in, "More") are possible names for the new publication. Times Publisher Alan Leveritt accuses the D-G of starting the faux-alt "to eliminate a strong dissenting voice ... and to further monopolize the newspaper advertising market." But Leveritt is prepared to fight. "Over the last 30 some odd years any number of competitors have tried to swallow the Arkansas Times," Leveritt says. "We're about as digestible as hickory nuts."

Continue ReadingArkansas Daily Planning Faux-Alt

While he was still the governor of Arkansas, Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee arranged for the release of rapist Wayne Dumond, who murdered a woman in Missouri after getting out of jail. When Huckabee appeared on Meet the Press this weekend, he initially denied talking to the parole board about Dumond, but amended his statement when the host (pictured) responded incredulously. "(Russert) obviously had an Arkansas Times article detailing the meeting that led to Dumond’s release," reports the Arkansas Leader in an editorial urging Huckabee to exercise a little "humility." MORE HUCKABEE DISSEMBLING: The ex-governor lies about a report in the Arkansas Times about missing statehouse furniture.

Continue ReadingTim Russert Uses Arkansas Times Story to Trip Up Huckabee

Mediaspan, which calls itself "the leading provider of digital content management and national advertising solutions for over 4,000 local media properties," yesterday announced the addition of several new clients, including AAN members Philadelphia City Paper, Austin Chronicle, San Antonio Current, Salt Lake City Weekly, Arkansas Times and Jackson Free Press. "Our drive to deliver new, national revenue for our affiliate partners goes hand-in-hand with our goal of meeting the demands of national advertisers who want to reach a specific local audience, in markets large and small, across multiple types of media," says a Mediaspan executive. "Whether advertisers seek online display ads on newspaper websites, pre-roll video on TV websites or online radio audio streams, we can deliver."

Continue ReadingOnline Ad Firm Signs Six Alt-Weekly Clients

So says Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who calls the Little Rock alt-weekly "a progressive paper that will be must-reading if (former Arkansas Gov. Mike) Huckabee runs" for President. The Times also made a splash last week when it added video to its popular Arkansas Blog, premiering with a walk-and-talk interview of new Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe. "The Times' blog's reader/responders have been positively lapping up this video," says The Morning News' John Brummett, "posting their delight that they could see their new governor in real-time action for themselves over an exended period, and thus size him up directly without the filter of the traditional journalist, the middle man."

Continue ReadingArkansas Times the Go-To Paper on Huckabee