Wednesday, April 17, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Robert McCord, a great journalist

Robert S. McCord, who passed away in North Little Rock over the weekend at the age of 84, was a crusading newspaper editor who pushed for passage of the state’s Freedom of Information Act in 1967. He was then the publisher of the North Little Rock Times, which fought Mayor Casey Laman’s political machine and its policy of excluding reporters from meetings where officials made policy.

Laman challenged the FOI Act, which the state Supreme Court upheld unanimously. Officials still attempted to meet in secret, but if they’re caught violating the FOI Act, they could go to jail, thanks to the courage of Bob McCord, a real gentlemen and a mentor to young journalists.

A deeply religious person, he almost never said anything bad about anybody. There were politicians and a few journalists he disliked, but he didn’t dwell on the negative. He was a soft-spoken son of the South, a native of Camden, who grew up in North Little Rock. He was a gifted photographer who took pictures for the Arkansas Democrat during the Second World War when he was still a teenager and the men in their 20s were off to war.

He graduated from the University of Arkansas, where he edited the Arkansas Traveler, in 1951 and returned to the Democrat and stayed for several years until he bought the North Little Rock Times in the late 1950s and turned it into a first-class paper.

A decade later, he ran the Democrat’s editorial page with distinction and later became its executive editor. He left as the newspaper war with the Arkansas Gazette heated up, but he joined the Gazette a few years later as an associate editor and worked there for a decade before the paper shut down.

He was from the old school who gave us advice when we asked and always had a kind word for The Leader. We’re glad we knew him and mourn his loss.