Your Brain on Lists (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, May. 26, 2014 12:00 am  

For most of its 30-year history, a hallmark of Arkansas Business has been the lists that appear almost every week. Last week we listed trucking companies; the week before that we ranked banks by assets. Next week, we’ll have some gambling receipts for readers to study.

There is something in the human brain that likes to see data organized in lists. has proven that people will click on almost anything that looks like a list — “24 Signs You’re Not Ready for Adulthood” and “37 Reasons Tattoos Shouldn’t Be Permanent.” In our newsroom, we know that our weekly lists are primarily used for sales leads — that’s a service to our audience that we are happy to perform.

Although we’ve learned that no list is easy — some are just easier than others — most of our lists are just one of the informative pieces of reporting that we do in a given week. This week’s list, however, is the centerpiece of the entire issue: the annual list of the state’s largest private companies.

This particular effort has been undertaken every year for more than a quarter-century, and it has become a historic document — never perfect or complete, unfortunately, but unparalleled in its ability to trace business trends in The Natural State.

Every time we reach out to scores of businesses around the state — large by private-company standards — and ask for data on revenue and employment, we are reminded just how important many of these companies are to their hometowns and their regions. When we talk with their executives, we hear about the good times and the bad times. (2013, we’re glad to say, was much better than some recent years we’d all like to forget.)

The list of the 75 largest private companies in Arkansas isn’t as sexy as “10 Badly Photoshopped Beach Bodies” or as romantic as “5 Celebrity Couples Who Married in Italy,” but we like to think that it’s much more important to you, the Arkansas Business reader.



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