Marilyn Mitchell, a Magnolia native who returned to Little Rock last year to be state editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after stints as a top editor at papers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, left the newspaper last week, but not quietly. She distributed an e-mail staff-wide (the newspaper has some 250 newsroom employees) and it sizzled over the Internet quickly. It said: “All I wanted to do at this newspaper is to do a good job. I came here because I thought it was a good newspaper. But, it's not. It's a good ole' boys club made up of old white males. Nobody else has a voice.” She went on to complain about treatment by other top editors; claimed male editors talked about penis size during news meetings and used racial slurs, and she objected to the internal naming of a story about female suicide bombers as “blonde bombshells.” The executive editor, Griffin Smith, “doesn't give a damn,” she said in tendering her immediate resignation.
Shortly after, veteran political editor Bill Simmons distributed an e-mail taking exception to Mitchell's memo on several points. He said he'd not heard the derogatory terms to which she referred and defended the “blonde bombshells” label as typical of “quipish” titles routinely assigned to the day's lineup of articles. “Practicing humor has its risks, and one of them is being misperceived and distorted,” Simmons wrote.
We couldn't reach Mitchell. Deputy editor Frank Fellone, who acts as spokesman for the newsroom, declined to comment. At last report, her husband Jack Mitchell remained an assistant city editor. D-G newsroom sources said she had argued with other editors in recent days on deployment of staff for covering of recent tornado damage. Mitchell's departure, according to a staff directory on the Internet, leaves three women among 13 who hold editor titles on the news desk.
The flight of the Huckabee
Mike Huckabee took a break from presidential campaigning last weekend for a trip to the Cayman Islands where was paid an undisclosed sum to speak at the Young Caymanian Leadership Conference. The major sponsor of the event is Cayman National, the biggest bank in the tax haven and also operator of financial institutions on another tax haven, the Isle of Man.
Huckabee has spoken at the event before, in 2001 according to news accounts on the Internet. His statement of financial interest for calendar 2001, when he was governor, lists no payment of fees for a speech in the Cayman Islands or any gift of air travel, lodging or anything else for an event in the Cayman Islands.
Now that would be news — Mike Huckabee giving a speech for free, offshore, at his own expense. Failure to disclose payments for such an appearance would also be news.
Making the reader's list
Our favorite magazine suggested that we share it with others. This led to a discussion with Central Arkansas Library System officials about the proper procedure to follow if one wants to make, say, Sauerkraut and Weiners Illustrated available to CALS patrons.
It's advisable to consult periodicals librarian Hope Shastri before you order. She can probably tell you if the library will welcome the magazine on its shelf. If she's unfamiliar with the publication, she may ask that you provide a copy for inspection. “We try to offer readers things we believe have value,” she said. Also, “We have to decide whether there's an audience for it.”
Whether or not Shastri's opinion has been obtained in advance, anyone who orders a magazine should tell her that it's on the way. The library receives hundreds of magazines every month, many of them unsolicited, she said. “We look for the ones we ordered ourselves and the ones we know are coming to us.” A magazine she's not looking for might not make it into the right hands. If the library receives a magazine that she decides is not a keeper, she may give it away or try to sell the magazines at one of the library's periodic book sales, or dispose of them some other way.
Various factors are considered in “collection development,” Shastri said. She tries to include magazines from both ends of the political spectrum, for example. And sometimes attitudes change, either those of the public or those of library authorities, so that a magazine becomes more or less acceptable than it was before. CALS doesn't have a Playboy subscription at the moment, but it has had in the past.