by Max Brantley
No way a tiny weekly can compete equally with a vigorous metropolitan daily newspaper with a staff of 200 and an admirable amount of space devoted to news, but we try in our small way to hit them where they ain't, aided by instantaneous free Internet publication of the news we do cover. This morning was a good example. The run of major local news in the Democrat-Gazette this morning was mostly covered hours, if not days, before on the Arkansas Blog.
I didn't expect the Democrat-Gazette to credit us for breaking news of Gilbert Baker's application to be Henderson president (though the Associated Press graciously did yesterday). But in catching up with our Sunday morning scoop Tuesday morning, the D-G was already behind again thanks to my source's report last night that Baker apparently had not advanced in the screening process because the names of two other candidates had been sent by the search committee to the Board of Trustees. They were Arkadelphia school superintendent Donnie Whitten and Gary Biller, vice president for student services at Arkansas Tech. (I wish I'd picked up Baker's application, as the D-G did, to note references such as Luke Gordy, lobbyist for the Billionaire Boys Club. Baker gave Gordy the critical vote on the Senate Education Committee to pass his charter school legislation. It's the least he could do to return a favor.)
Speaking of Gilbert Baker: John Brummett comments on the Baker application. Bottom line: He says it's no sin for a legislator to apply for a job at an agency whose budget he's overseen and augmented, but says appearances make it problematic.
I also understand the Democrat-Gazette yesterday began rounding up the information from the University of Arkansas on which I based my report Friday on one-on-one trustee meetings (of dubious legality) in the search for a system president and news of those who'd been interviewed for the job, including the chancellor of the University of Missouri.
I hope Mark Martin's tragicomic opening days as secretary of state draw the daily paper's attention at some point, too.
End of horn-tooting.