Saturday, March 03, 2012

TOP STORY >> Newspaper celebrates 25 years

Leader managing editor

In the first issue of The Leader on March 4, 1987, publisher Garrick Feldman said, “The North Pulaski Leader intends to be a mirror to the community — to report all that is newsworthy in Jacksonville, Sherwood, the air base and surrounding areas…We want to chronicle the events, both small and large, that are taking place here…The newspaper also promises to serve its advertisers well.”

He continued, “This newspaper will be about you and your neighbors, so let us hear from you if you have news to share with others.”

Twenty-five years later, The Leader is keeping its promise of delivering community news for an affordable subscription price and delivering consistent results for advertisers through a combination of mail (with its free edition, The Extra) and home delivery to subscribers in an expanded local area which now includes Pulaski County from Sherwood and Gravel Ridge to Jacksonville to Little Rock Air Force Base. The Leader is also serving all of Cabot and most of Lonoke County including Lonoke, Austin, Ward and Carlisle and the surrounding rural confines. In White County, The Leader serves Beebe, McRae, El Paso, Garner and Butlerville and to a lesser extent Searcy including many White County rural routes. The Leader’s reach also extends into Prairie County giving our advertisers an even bigger bonus for their buck.

By all accounts, The Leader has grown by leaps and bounds and we want to thank you, dear readers and also our advertisers for your steadfast loyalty to The Leader and to the American dream.

Some of our advertisers have been with us since the beginning, and to you we extend our gratitude and our wishes for your continued success in business. May we continue to grow together.

What publisher Feldman said then still holds true today, “Share with us our joys and sorrows — your proud moments and your sad ones. The news that ordinary people make is just as important to us as what their leaders do on city councils and school boards.”

And it still holds true today that “if you have an engagement or wedding announcement, send us the announcement and also a photo. If there is a birth in your family, send us a picture also.” Of course, times have changed in 25 years so we now accept all this by e-mail at or at But we still do some things the old-fashioned way — mailed submissions are still accepted and cards of thanks and obituaries are still free.

We love to cover our local schools and encourage teachers to let us know of their students’ accomplishments and awards as well as their own.

We still consider covering significant birthdays, centenarians in particular, and submitted photos are always welcome. Letters to the editor are always welcome. We want to hear the voice of the community.

We also pride ourselves on our local sports coverage including football, basketball, baseball, volleyball and soccer and also local news which impacts sports. Coaches comments and local submissions of news tips and photos help to give flavor to those pages.

As we said back in 1987, “This newspaper will try to serve all of its readers without fear or favor. The Leader intends to open its pages to everyone.”

We also want to extend a big thank you to the many on our staff including our son Jonathan, who joined our staff as an editor and who will help us continue to produce a strong family-owned and community-oriented newspaper.

We wish to thank our veteran reporters, Rick Kron, Joan McCoy and John Hofheimer, who rejoined the staff after a brief hiatus and a visit to Greece. All journalism award winners, they’ve helped make The Leader what it is today.

Also Christy Hendricks, our creative designer, as well as Jeffrey Smith, who has come a long way since his first days at The Leader and who’s made many friends with his Cabot and Beebe coverage. Sarah Campbell, an ASU-Jonesboro grad, has local roots in the area, which have helped her ferret out some outstanding local stories.

Sports editor Ray Benton’s attention to local sports is outstanding and caters to our greater local area with the help of veteran sportswriter Jason King.

We also wish to thank our advertising staff led by General Manager John Henderson and our Publications Manager Matt Robinson. Also invaluable members of the sales staff are Linda Hostetler and Susan Swift. You’ve stuck with us through thick and thin, through the idiosyncracies of the economy, its ups and downs.

We couldn’t have done it without you. You’ve all helped us get to where we are today.

There are many other staff members — designers, artists and photographers — who should be singled out for their loyalty and outstanding work ethic. And there are many more starting at the front office and on to the pressroom and mailroom, where the final product is prepared which arrives at your front door or in your mailbox. (We’ll introduce them all to you in a later edition.)

Readers, advertisers and staff, you have helped The Leader become what it is today. Continue to grow and thrive with us.

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a retrospective look at The Leader’s beginnings to where we are today. Watch for more installments as we celebrate 25 years in the business of delivering news and advertising.)