Community News (Gwen Moritz Editors Note)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Feb. 11, 2008 12:00 am  

By the time you read this column, I hope John Glasgow has returned safely to his family. The idea that anyone could disappear into what his brother Roger called "thin blue air" is shocking, and for the missing person to be a solid, respected business executive makes it that much more baffling.

It's now been two weeks since Melinda Glasgow notified the Little Rock Police Department that John had not shown up for work as chief financial officer of CDI Contractors and had not responded to repeated calls to his cell phone. Police reports are not generally a part of our daily reporting routine here at Arkansas Business, so I didn't know Glasgow was missing until a tipster called me the following Thursday morning. He thought the search for Glasgow was a business-related story that would interest our readers, and he was correct.

All I could confirm by the time our Daily Report e-newsletter was sent to subscribers about noon that day was that both the Conway County Sheriff's Office and the Arkansas State Police were searching for Glasgow in Petit Jean State Park. That afternoon we were able to get the LRPD missing person report, an official statement from the State Parks, an interview with Roger Glasgow, a digital photo of John Glasgow and a statement from CDI's CEO, William Clark.

The Associated Press (of which ArkansasBusiness.com is a relatively new member) picked up our coverage, and by Friday the news of Glasgow's disappearance was on the Little Rock television affiliates and on both news radio stations, KUAR and KARN. Web traffic on ArkansasBusiness.com was high, and by Friday Internet Editor Lance Turner's blog, The Ladder, had become a makeshift meeting place for well-wishers.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette posted a couple of AP stories (mainly from ArkansasBusiness.com coverage) on its Web site but did not print anything about the search for Glasgow until the following Monday. We haven't been able to get an explanation from the Democrat-Gazette editors, but I suspect the daily paper was merely abiding by its longstanding policy of not reporting on suicides - or, in this case, a possible suicide - unless the individual is very prominent or the death occurs in a public place.

I know the Glasgow family was frustrated that they had to buy an ad in order to get John's photograph in the state's largest-circulation newspaper. I also understand the necessity of having general policies on news coverage - we have those too. But Lance Turner and I didn't hesitate to report on the Glasgow case because our overriding policy is to provide timely news of interest to our audience of business readers. We knew that a multi-agency search for an executive of one of Arkansas' largest private companies was something that our readers would want to know about, no matter what the possible reasons for his disappearance.

Arkansas Business is a community newspaper, just like the Nashville News in John Glasgow's hometown or the Russellville Courier that reported on the search next door in Conway County. The staff has often heard me describe our approach to reporting as "people stories with dollar signs"; Arkansas Business has never approached business news as simply earnings reports, although those are certainly newsworthy. This publication has always been primarily interested in the people who make up our business community, and when one of them disappears into thin blue air, we want to be part of the effort to find him. At the very least, we want our community to know what's going on.

***

After more than seven years, I'm still disappointed by the number of Arkansas business people who haven't gone to ArkansasBusiness.com and signed up for our e-newsletters. The Daily Report e-newsletter is sent out every business day about noon, and we send out additional "Breaking News" and "Late News Updates" when events warrant. Industry-specific newsletters are sent to subscribers weekly.

All of these are free, supported entirely by advertising revenue, and you need not worry that we will sell your e-mail address to spammers or flood you with junk e-mail. I think the value of ArkansasBusiness.com has been proven.

(Gwen Moritz is editor of Arkansas Business. E-mail her at gmoritz@abpg.com.)

 

 

 

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