Lance Turner

22 Years and Change

Lance Turner Editor's Note

22 Years and Change

I wandered into Arkansas Business’ old offices in the Heritage West Building in May 1999 just weeks after leaving Arkansas State University with a journalism degree and job offer from fellow alumnus Jeff Hankins. I was 22.

I’d had other job opportunities for which, looking back, I was equally ill-suited. One was as a copy editor on Wally Hall’s sports desk at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Deputy Editor Jeff Krupsaw waited patiently while I filled out a paper application and, to his credit, didn’t kick me out of the building when I requested some Wite-Out to paint over my misspelling of “Society” in “Society of Professional Journalists.” If you believe in signs, well, there’s one.

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But Hankins, then Arkansas Business’ editor and publisher, had been persuasive, selling me on life in a rare 8-5, Monday-through-Friday journalism job that paid pretty well and put me to work for a discerning audience — affluent business decision-makers — who Make Things Happen in Arkansas. I even got a choice beat, local media, and a weekly column to go with it called “Outtakes.”

I was not raised among businesspeople. No one in my immediate family started companies or held corporate jobs. My dad is a retired electrician. My mother did office work for an orthodontist. My maternal grandfather was the exception — he ran his own cattle farm on two plots of land in Calico Rock, one right on the White River.

The closest I came to business class in college was a semester of keyboarding. I had a lot to learn.

My new colleagues were happy to help. John Henry, George Waldon, David Smith, Jim Lovell, Jon Parham and, later that year, Gwen Moritz, whom Hankins lured back to Arkansas to be editor, all taught me foundational lessons about business and business journalism. They helped me hone story ideas, connected me with key sources, mercilessly edited my copy and encouraged me every step of the way.

And my sources were golden. You may not put advertising executives, public relations pros and local television managers at the top of your “most trusted” list. But I was blessed with a bumper crop of fantastic people who genuinely wanted to help a young reporter learn his beat and do a better job of covering it. They taught me about their businesses, suggested stories, commented for stories when they could and, in most cases, took the inevitable unflattering stories in stride. I’m grateful for their professionalism and kindness.

Not long after I joined the Arkansas Business staff as an assistant editor, Hankins announced plans for, a website that would post local business news daily and deliver it to readers via daily and weekly emails. Hankins needed an editor to oversee the operation, and I volunteered.

I tagged along with Hankins and Brent Birch, our newly hired chief information officer, to regular meetings with Aristotle, the Little Rock web design firm that built the first version of the site. In December 2000, the site launched, and I clicked “send” on the market’s first daily business email newsletter.

I used to joke that I’ve had the same job for 20 years. But so much has changed in those two decades in how we do journalism, and the internet has grown so much, that that’s incorrect. The title’s been pretty much the same, but the duties have expanded and, at times, contracted. Over the years we’ve added other websites, digital products, social media, video, TV.

But the core of what I’ve done — what we all do at Arkansas Business — is the same: to provide meaningful content that our business audience can’t get anywhere else.

The delivery mechanisms — print, email, website, television, live events — aren’t ends unto themselves but simply the tools we use to accomplish that goal. And the thing to understand is that the tools will change but the mission won’t.

Returning to print is exciting for me because it remains the soul of our company and, I think, a place where our readers can come, every week, to find news and information that could change the arc of their business or their professional lives.

And that’s where I am today, 22 years and change after walking into the Arkansas Business newsroom.

I’ve still got lots to learn! Tell me something I don’t know. Email me at or send me a tweet @LT.

Lance Turner is the editor of Arkansas Business.