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Former Pine Bluff Publisher Byron Tate Pushes on at Arkansas Press Association

3 min read

The news cycle has come full circle for Byron Tate.

Last July, he was reeling after his dismissal as publisher of the Pine Bluff Commercial. This July he’s rejoicing in his new role as president of the Arkansas Press Association’s board of directors.

Meanwhile, the man who replaced him at the Commercial in 2016, GateHouse Media Group Publisher Ed Graves, has left Pine Bluff

A former editor of the Commercial and the Southwest Times Record of Fort Smith, Tate had already acquired the weekly Sheridan Headlight by the time he got his pink slip last year. Losing the job was a blow, but he credited GateHouse for breaking new ground with its selection of Graves, the first African-American publisher of an Arkansas daily newspaper in the state’s history.

Tate, who still lives in Pine Bluff, said it was “a thrill and an honor” to serve the APA, a trade organization that assists member newspapers across the state while working to protect basic speech and press freedoms, including Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act.

“The longer I’m in the newspaper business the more I understand how crucial it is to have a strong press association,” he told Arkansas Business. “The last legislative session was a good example. The FOIA was under attack from all sides, and standing strong in its defense was the Arkansas Press Association. It is vital not only to the state’s newspapers, but also to the state itself, and I’m very proud to be part of that effort.”

Tom White of The Advance Monticellonian in Monticello was named the association board’s vice president, and Jay Edwards of The Daily Record in Little Rock became second vice president. Other members are John Bland of the Times Dispatch in Walnut Ridge, Rusty Turner of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale, Ellen Kreth of the Madison County Record in Huntsville, Clark Smith of the Mena Star, Sue Silliman of the Camden News and Nat Lea, the association’s immediate past president, of Wehco Media in Little Rock.

D-G vs. D-G
The APA also announced the winners of its annual Better Newspaper Contest at its convention July 5-8 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Little Rock. In the general excellence competition, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette took first place among larger dailies, edging its Little Rock counterpart, which was second. Another Wehco paper, the Sentinel-Record of Hot Springs, was third.

The Batesville Daily Guard won among medium dailies, followed by the Harrison Daily Times and the Log Cabin Democrat of Conway. Benton’s Saline Courier won for smaller dailies, topping the Daily Citizen of Searcy and the Paragould Daily Press.

The Leader of Jacksonville took the general excellence prize among larger weeklies, followed by the Herald Leader of Siloam Springs and the Weekly Vista of Bella Vista. Berryville’s Carroll County News topped the medium weeklies division, with the Advance Monticellonian taking second and the Nashville News-Leader finishing third. The Press Argus-Courier of Van Buren won among smaller weeklies, followed by the The Times of North Little Rock. Tied for third place were the Dumas Clarion and the Washington County Enterprise Leader of Lincoln.

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