I’ve been publishing the Arkansas Times for almost 38 years, 20 of those as the liberal, muck-raking, music-loving weekly you are now reading. Before that, before the Arkansas Gazette passed into history, we were a monthly, statewide magazine with much the same attitude as the Times today. When the Gazette shut down after the newspaper war with the Arkansas Democrat, we converted to a weekly format and hired the senior editorial staff of the Gazette. We felt it imperative that an informed, liberal voice continue in this state and so it has been for 20 years.
It is hard to define this newspaper in a few words.
We’re the voice of the blue community in a red state. We are willing to stand up to the most powerful people and interests locally, happy to call an idiot an idiot when necessary. We like the little guy. We love good art, good music and good food and we delight in guiding our readers to all of it. And no, we’re not anti-business. We started this company on $200 and financed it for years with wages from our night jobs. We have walked that walk and we know something about capitalism. We think investing in our state’s human capital is more important than lowering taxes. We have the lowest timber and gas severance taxes in the region, low wages, weak worker protections, courts stacked against litigants suing corporations and weak environmental standards. And what has that wrought? Some of the poorest, least educated, unhealthy people in America. As a small businessman, I live and die on results. If Arkansas was my business, I’d do away with those tired ideas and try a new business model. And that’s a reason to get up and come into work in the morning.
The best thing that has happened to the Arkansas Times in the last 20 years has been the Internet. While it slowly strangles some daily newspapers, it has put us into the daily news business thanks to Max Brantley’s Arkansas Blog. Investigative reporting, business and political gossip, breaking news and attitude have made the Arkansas Blog atarktimes.com one of the most popular web destinations in the state. Last month more than 500,000 unique visitors viewed more than 1.5 million pages at arktimes.com. Strong arts and entertainment reporting, hundreds of critical restaurant reviews and a variety of guides have lent breadth and variety to the cyber version of the Times. Not surprisingly, advertising on the web now accounts for almost 20 percent of our revenue.
When we started the weekly Arkansas Times in 1992, our mission was to make Little Rock a two-newspaper town again. That mission, to maintain an alternative to a conservative daily, to give the other side of the story, to create healthy competition that benefits local businesses and readers, has not changed. Our commitment to good writing, our willingness to take on vested interests and our support for arts and culture remain undiminished.
Twenty years ago Mara Leveritt, my wife at the time, came up with the idea of converting the monthly to what you see today. Max Brantley, our editor for two decades, has defined the Times more than any other person, and Phyllis Britton, our long-time ad director, has led the sales staff with a combination of skill and grace. To all of them and to our staff, readers and advertisers, I am grateful.
— Alan Leveritt