As a former reporter and editor of the Stuttgart Daily Leader, my heart was broken when the newspaper went out of business in September of 2019.
Just when the voiceless was finally beginning to have a voice and the light was beginning to shine on a community so bright, the light suddenly became dim.
No one mourned the closing of the newspaper the way us employees did.
We have all heard the saying though, “When one door closes, another door will open”. Well because the doors I thought I could easily go through were not opening for me, I started climbing through windows.
Those were windows of opportunity that God was showing me. Once I climbed through one window and completed that task God showed me another window to climb through.
Window after window after window…
“In The Loop” was started because of the love I had for the Stuttgart Community and I knew I wouldn’t be the only person mourning the loss of our newspaper.
I wanted to still provide some type of service to the community until the fate of the newspaper was decided. I know the importance of accountability and I knew what would be lost if print journalism went away.
It has been confirmed though that East Arkansas Broadcasters will be relaunching the Stuttgart Daily Leader soon!
In the meantime, I hope the efforts of trying to keep you “In the Loop” is appreciated.
Since the launch of “In the Loop” in September, other former employees such as Bill Shrum and Dawn Teer have contributed because they too have a passion for what they do and wanted to serve the community.
I also partnered with the DeWitt Era. Together we created a Stuttgart section in their newspaper which publishes every Thursday and can be purchased at the Cash Saver news rack in Stuttgart (formerly known as Mayflower) or by subscription. They currently have a special promotion, $15 for 1 year.
We still have a demographic that is not tech-savvy and prefer to flip the pages of a newspaper instead of swiping up and down on a smartphone or Ipad.
We still have people who want to clip their coupons. I mean I still know some people who still have flip phones and have never heard of a digital coupon.
Grandparents want to be able to cut their grandkids picture out the newspaper and frame it. The Stuttgart Wings Over The Prairie World Champion Duck Caller wants to preserve copies of the front page when he wins the contest so he can keep it for years to come to show his grandkids one day.
The mom of a bride wants to commemorate her only daughter’s wedding day by running an announcement in the newspaper and buy 20 copies to send to family and friends. (I’ve witnessed this first hand.)
It’s just some things that can’t replace a newspaper. Even with the changes in time, newspapers still have a need, especially in small rural areas like Stuttgart, even if it just prints once a week.
I also had a need and God supplied those needs for me.
With so many blessings that God has lined up for me, the latest one will be the opportunity to document the Arkansas Delegation Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee experience.
Organized by the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, a division of the Arkansas Department of Education, the Arkansas delegates will join thousands from across the country to commemorate “Bloody Sunday” which occurred March 7, 1965, when a group of 525 African American demonstrators gathered at Brown Chapel to demand the right to vote.
Two weeks later 3,200 civil rights protestors marched from Selma to Montgomery, Al, which prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act.
Many familiarize Martin Luther King Jr. for his “I Have A Dream” speech but the story of what MLK and his followers endured while attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge is often kept out of the history textbooks and is not taught in schools.
White state and local lawmen attacked MLK and his followers with billy clubs and tear gas all because they didn’t want blacks to vote even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South and gave them that right.
From Feb. 28 – March 1, 2020, Arkansas educators, a youth delegation from Southeast Arkansas, Shorter College students, as well as several media partners, will document the experience that will take place at the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee events.
In order to move forward, you have to look back and understand the sacrifice others made so you could be where you are today.
I hope the experience encourages our young voters to exercise their right to vote, especially knowing that a group of brave men and women risked it all for future generations to come.
I’m thankful for this opportunity to represent such a valuable media news source for Southeast, Arkansas, the Pine Bluff Commercial, as a contributing writer.
I will be joining Re’ Chelle Turner with Fox 16/KARK-TV News, Kenya Eddings of Today’s Communique and the Arkansas State University National Public Radio affiliate.
God mended my broken heart the same day it was broken on Sept. 6, 2019, when he gave me the vision to start “In the Loop” for his people in Stuttgart.
He knew where my heart was and where my passion dwelled. I am thankful to those who have encouraged me along this journey because the road hasn’t been easy.
I also thank those who help contribute to the page, the followers of the page and even the negative feedback because there is always room for growth!
Most importantly, I thank God who continues to put people in my path where my good works can continue to thrive and flourish all while He gets the glory!
Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!
I’m a living witness.