Columns » Max Brantley

The Arkansas Blog

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We announced it last week, but I want to mention it again. The Arkansas Times has redesigned its website, www.arktimes.com. That means many improvements, not the least of which is the Arkansas Daily Blog, which you read by clicking those three words in blue on our home page. A blog is a web log. It’s a digital diary, often a one-person operation, and the form has proliferated madly. The best ones, like ours, are updated frequently and almost instantly in response to news. In the political world, the impact has been clear. The mainstream media model of he-said, she-said journalism is rapidly becoming ineffective against campaign spin merchants. A good example of blogging occurred during the vice presidential debates. Dick Cheney said he’d never met John Edwards. In no time, blogs had put the lie to Cheney by citing chapter and verse of previous Cheney-Edwards meetings and even posting a photograph of the men together. Which brings us back to the Arkansas Blog. We hope to use our blog to do similar truth-squadding. We did it last week when Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller issued a news release based on a discredited story about how a Democratic candidate in Tennessee supposedly made fun of mentally challenged children. We posted a link to a full account of the dirty trick within minutes after Rockefeller’s release came out and chastised Rockefeller, too. We’ll post the occasional news headline. There’s no reason for you to wait until the morning newspaper or the evening TV news to learn that Barbara Broyles has died or that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied an appeal from Jim Guy Tucker, to name a couple of stories we posted promptly within the last week. We’ll partner with the news team at KUAR to inform you on major local news. Before long, we’ll also offer free e-mail delivery of headlines and other hot stuff from our blog. You’ll get a healthy dose of commentary, of course, plus links to articles elsewhere that you might have missed. A good example was the Washington Post article last Sunday saying Bill Clinton would be coming to Arkansas in advance of the election and that he might make campaign appearances for John Kerry. We’ll have some fun, too, with items that you simply might find interesting — a Fayetteville native son hitting the big time in New York, a hot new restaurant coming to town, the first lady taking a turn as an election official. It’s a work in progress. We still have some typographical issues to resolve. We want to emulate other blogs by compiling reader comments on a page separate from the main blog page. Associate Editor Warwick Sabin and I will provide most material, with help from others at the Times. But we depend on eyes and ears all over Arkansas. Write or call us. We have a pronounced Arkansas bias. The web is crammed with wondrous information sources. But, other than conventional news outlets in Arkansas, few websites focus on Arkansas. I can’t think of a one that offers our combination of news, commentary and buzz, coupled with immediacy. Soon, we hope, the page will have an operating address of its own, www.arkansasblog.com, as well as being a link on our web page. Check it out. Bookmark it. And, please, comment.

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