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While a culture war threatens Arkansas libraries, the Freedom of Information Act, public schools, Black history and the rights of gay people, we here at the Arkansas Times wake up each day ready to shine cleansing sunlight on the fear mongering tactics being peddled by the Arkansas MAGA contingent.

We recently partnered with the Arkansas Community Foundation, a collaboration that underscores our commitment to community engagement and the future of journalism. Together, we aim to address the challenges faced by the traditional news publishing model and work towards a sustainable future. We launched the Arkansas Times Investigative Journalism Project to do just that.

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Even though much of our state advertising has been a casualty of the governor’s culture war, we are able to continue this kind of reporting due to 4,000 online subscribers who support us with $10 a month for full online access including breaking local news on the Arkansas Blog. Our newsroom is now 100% funded by subscribers and donors and fiercely independent.

We have used this money to more than double our editorial staff in just one year, hiring some of the most talented reporters in our 49-year history. Today I’m asking you to become a supporter by contributing to the Arkansas Times. If you do, here is how your money will be spent:

We hired Matt Campbell, the investigative reporter and blogger who created the Blue Hog Report. Matt recently broke the news about Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders purchase of a $19,000 lectern from a political friend. The Wall Street Journal said they could purchase the same lectern on Amazon for $6,000. Matt Campbell has long been recognized for exposing fraud and abuse of power and now he will be full time at the Arkansas Times.

Dave Ramsey, one of the best political reporters to have ever worked at the Times, returned as our Arkansas LEARNS beat reporter, covering the rapidly changing educational landscape here. The movement toward privatization, charterization and school vouchers will unquestionably alter the state education budget, and seeks to silence teachers who want to educate students on Arkansas’s and the South’s fraught history. Ramsey will look at both the policy and budget issues to see who’s winning and who’s losing when it comes to Arkansas LEARNS.

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Investigative reporter Debra Hale-Shelton most recently uncovered the secret plans to affiliate the scandal ridden University of Phoenix with the University of Arkansas. She revealed the plans before they were fully baked, and the Board of Trustees wisely killed the effort. Hale-Shelton’s coverage of bathroom bans and other rightwing chicanery in Conway Schools helped expose two of the worst offenders on the Conway School Board, who recently lost their seats.

Mary Hennigan has taken on the unglamorous but important work of keeping an eye on City Hall. She has dug deep on housing issues, helping to expose some of the unlivable conditions people without much money are sometimes forced to live with.

Benjamin Hardy, known for his sophisticated writing and even-handed, thoughtful approach to journalism, returned to the Arkansas Times and is turning his significant investigative skills and sharp eye on Arkansas news and politics.

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Arktimes.com is now bursting with local news coverage thanks to the addition of these reporters. Throughout much of September, our reporters have been camped out at the capital covering Gov. Sander’s attempts to gut the Freedom of Information Act and prevent the public from learning who is flying to Paris with her on public money.

To keep these talented young reporters in the field, we need your support. Will you chip in for independent journalism in Arkansas by contributing to the Arkansas Times today?

And thank you.

 

Alan Leveritt

Publisher & Founder, Arkansas Times