At the Log Cabin, three women are running the house.
Cynthia Crabb, Betsey Barham and Kelly Sublett took over officially last week as the Log Cabin Democrat, Conway’s daily newspaper, dispensed with having a publisher.
In one way, it’s not much of a change. The paper has been run since August by Crabb, the controller; Barham, the vice president of sales; and Sublett, the vice president of audience and the paper’s chief editorial voice. But it was a major departure for the Log Cabin, which was run until 1994 by four generations of the Robins family.
“We’ve really been doing this ourselves since last year, and it made sense all along,” Sublett told Arkansas Business last week. “It’s efficient, and it also has the benefit of letting us break down silos and working together across departments. The three of us are pretty dynamic women.”
Part of the efficiency comes in eliminating the position — and salary — of publisher. (When your Outtakes correspondent was writing there in the 1980s, Frank Robins III held the title, following the footsteps of his father, grandfather, great-grandmother and great-grandfather.)
Morris Communications, which bought the paper in 1995, named no replacement after Publisher Jeffrey Hartley departed the Log Cabin in August, and one prospect, Harry Porter, publisher of the Daily Citizen in Searcy, reportedly backed off the Conway job as talk swirled that Morris was planning to sell the paper to Gatehouse Media.
Sublett said Morris has assured employees that no sale is coming. “We heard that rumor the same way everybody else did, from outside the company,” she said. “We don’t know where that came from, except that maybe somebody not in the company received some wrong information. So we’re formally on Week 1, and we’re eager to get rolling.”
Sublett said she and her colleagues have a great advantage in knowing Conway and Faulkner County deeply. “I moved here from Texas, but my husband is from here, and I feel like I’m related to half of Faulkner County,” Sublett said. “Betsey has been here 12 years and Cynthia 16, so we know Conway in an intimate way that people appreciate. Conway demands that. We had a Chamber event on the night that this [leadership arrangement] was announced, and people were coming up saying that this is a good thing.”
Sublett said many newspapers report to regional publishers, a model common at Gatehouse, but that leadership by a triumvirate seems rare, at least in Arkansas. “We’re in a unique position, just as Conway is in a unique position.” The Log Cabin is Morris’ only paper in Arkansas, and its nearest sister publication is in Lubbock, Texas.
“We have a great team, including my assistant managing editor [Jeanette Anderton], who does so many things on the news desk, and we have big ideas for serving Conway.”