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War Stories (Gwen Moritz Editor’s Note)

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Arkansas Business will mark 40 years of service to our state business community this year, and last week some of the staff were invited to talk to the Rotary Club of Little Rock about all the history we have documented. Senior Editors George Waldon and Mark Friedman and Managing Editor Jan Cottingham and I have more than 100 years of combined experience on this one product, so we had plenty to choose from.

Business journals like this one were cropping up around the country in those days. It was a clever niche, offering business executives a way to advertise specifically to other business executives without the expense of buying the entire audience of a daily newspaper. (Or two. Back then, Arkansas had two battling statewide daily newspapers.)

To attract a business audience to then sell to business advertisers, business journals developed content that was even more narrowly focused than the business section of a daily paper. I call this content strategy OPM — other people’s money. Arkansas Business reporters understand that our readers want to know how much money other people have, how they got it and what they are spending it on. Ideally, readers will figure out a way to get in on it.

Contrary to complaints I’ve occasionally received after we’ve reported some unpleasant news, Arkansas Business is and always has been pro-business — but only good business. Sometimes money is obtained unethically or even illegally, and Arkansas Business has always wanted to warn readers about that kind of activity as early as possible. But, as I acknowledged to a generally friendly audience, we’ve been fooled too. John Rogers, the incarcerated sports memorabilia fraudster from North Little Rock, had been one of our 40 Under 40 honorees — and he’s not the only one who ended up in prison. It turns out Rogers spoke to the same Rotary Club just days before Friedman got the tip that the FBI was at Rogers’ house and business 10 years ago this month.

Other infamous scandals we touched on include arsonist real estate developer Aaron Jones and Ponzi operators M. David Howell and Kevin Lewis, and we couldn’t forget the three women employees who stole $4 million from First National Bank of Lawrence County, where they had been employed for decades.

Waldon, who joined the reporting staff in 1985, explained that outing frauds and posers is part of Arkansas Business’ DNA. But it’s certainly not all or even most of what we do. In the past 40 years, we’ve covered the fall of savings and loan associations and the development of the cellphone industry. Health insurance has been a continuing story for decades. Lithium is our state’s newest industry, and we’ve been covering it for five years now.

The story that haunts me more than is healthy is the unexplained disappearance in 2008 of construction executive John Glasgow, whose remains were finally discovered on Petit Jean seven years later.

Email Gwen Moritz, interim editor of Arkansas Business, at gmoritz@abpg.com
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