With a legendary beginning as a printing press floated up the Arkansas River in 1819, the Arkansas Gazette is inextricably linked with the state’s history, reporting on every major Arkansas event until the paper’s demise in 1991 after a long, bitter, and very public newspaper war. Looking Back at the Arkansas Gazette, knowledgeably and intimately edited by longtime Gazette reporter Roy Reed, comprises interviews from over a hundred former Gazette staffers recalling the stories they reported on and the people they worked with from the late forties to the paper’s end. The result is a nostalgic and justifiably admiring look back at a publication known for its progressive stance in a conservative Southern state, a newspaper that, after winning two Pulitzers for its brave rule-of-law stance during the Little Rock Central High Crisis, was considered one of the country’s greatest.
The interviews, collected from archives at the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas, provide fascinating details on renowned editors and reporters such as Harry Ashmore, Orville Henry, and Charles Portis, journalists who wrote daily on Arkansas’s always-colorful politicians, its tragic disasters and sensational crimes, its civil rights crises, Bill Clinton, the Razorbacks sports teams, and much more. Full of humor and little-known details, Looking Back at the Arkansas Gazette is a fascinating remembrance of a great newspaper.