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Arkansas Nonprofit News Network Aiming for Impact

14 February 2017 15:31:50 Daily Report - ArkansasBusiness.com

It was 2013, oil from a burst pipeline was flooding the town of Mayflower, and journalist Lindsey Millar was “banging my head against the desk.” The editor of the weekly Arkansas Times was racking his brain for a way to properly cover the greatest environmental disaster in Arkansas in years. He hit upon crowdfunding, and the seeds of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network were planted. In an era when “fake news” is a rallying cry and the Trump administration is attacking the press as a “failing” opposition party, Millar has launched ANNN as a “nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans.” Financing his vision with grants and donations, Millar hopes to hire writers, editors, photographers and others to deliver important stories and distribute them at no charge to a statewide network of partners — newspapers, TV and radio stations and websites. Since its roll-out in January, ANNN has covered the legislature. Reporter Ibby Caputo’s stories have been published on ANNN’s website, ArkNews.org , and in partner papers like the Jonesboro Sun and The Leader in Jacksonville. ( One item appeared on ArkansasBusiness.com .) Millar is still gathering media partners, hoping to expand more into broadcasting. The legislative coverage has been largely incremental, but Millar eventually hopes to produce deep examinations of key topics and major investigative series. His model is the Arkansas Times’ donor-funded work on the state child welfare system in 2015 and on Mayflower, where ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured in 2013. “That was something that nobody was covering as it deserved to be, and I was trying to figure out a way to do it.” The answer was crowdfunding, financing a venture by raising money from many donors and grants, typically through the internet. “I was reluctant initially because that was around the time we were about to do a digital membership and ask people to pay, and it seemed like having your hand out a little too much.” Soon he relented and partnered with InsideClimate News, an environmental nonprofit site, and their fundraising effort brought in $27,000, Millar said. That money, plus an $8,000 grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, led to the hiring of two reporters, including former Arkansas Business reporter Sam Eifling and Elizabeth McGowan, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of a 2010 oil spill. “We did some really consequential reporting,” Millar said. The Times traced the pipeline’s path and highlighted deficiencies in its maintenance. “We wrote about people who were near the spill who had problems with fumes and potential health hazards. The day after our report came out, Congressman Griffin called the person who had been on the cover and to ask what he could do. Eventually Gov. Mike Beebe offered free health screenings. “That exposed me to the idea that great freelancers were out there who would come here and work with us. We confirmed that again on the child welfare project when we were able to hire Kathryn Joyce,” a reporter who was runner-up for a National Magazine Award. In 2015, the Times raised $23,000 to investigate the state’s child welfare system after Times Associate Editor Benjamin Hardy broke the news that two young girls adopted by then-state Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, were unofficially placed into a new home under the care of a man who later abused one of the children. This practice of giving away children, known as “rehoming” in the adoption world, has since been outlawed. Building on Hardy’s work, Joyce produced several widely praised cover articles on child welfare. And in November, the Department of Human Services presented an outline for improving its Division of Children Family Services, focusing on several issues like caseworker staffing, better placement of children with relatives and inefficiencies in foster care. All had been covered in Joyce’s reports. “In the nonprofit world, everybody talks about impact, and we should do that more in journalism,” Millar said. Troubled Business Models To produce journalism that makes a difference, Millar realized he couldn’t rely on a publishing model in clear retreat. “It’s always been hard to do really big projects. There’s just few resources, and it’s now evident that traditional revenue models are troubled,” he said. Millar noted the internet’s role in upending traditional publishing by siphoning off paid subscribers and advertising revenue, the traditional revenue streams that paid for reporting and editing staffs. “In the last 20 years,” he said, “the newspaper workforce has shrunk by about 20,000 positions,” about 40 percent. And while the free-circulation Times has been adaptive and resilient, most newsrooms “cannot devote sufficient resources to do sustained reporting on complicated issues,” he wrote. That’s where ANNN fits in as a “side project” to his work editing the Times. How is it fitting into his workday? “Not very well, so far,” Millar said with a smile. He is donating his time until he has the money to hire editors. The nonprofit model has succeeded nationally at outlets like New York-based ProPublica and the Marshall Project, which focuses on the justice system. But the idea is novel in Arkansas and most local news markets. Donor financing can sustain great journalism, says Eric Umansky, an editor at ProPublica, an independent nonprofit devoted to journalism in the public interest. But he cautions against project-by-project funding and sees foundations and wealthy patrons as better prospects for donations. “It’s harder to get money from readers on the retail level,” he said. “Foundations and the wealthy are the people who can move the needle quickly.” Arkansas Times Publisher Alan Leveritt likes the nonprofit idea, largely because the Times will use “nearly everything ANN produces,” Millar said. After conceiving of ANNN, Millar made an early call to Arkansas Public Media, a journalism project based at KUAR-FM in Little Rock founded in 2016 with a grant of $287,000 from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Millar sees parallels between his project and APM, headed by Bobby Ampezzan, the managing editor, and Vanessa McKuin, who focuses on fundraising and administration. “I admire what they’re doing, and our efforts are somewhat similar in spirit, but I also think there are significant differences,” Millar said, contrasting APM’s regular coverage of energy, health care and education with his own project-based vision. “A lot of times, that will mean raising money for special projects and hiring a small team to work on that one thing.” ANNN is registered with the state as a nonprofit and is operating for now under the fiscal sponsorship of the Fred Darragh Foundation. Darragh, a Little Rock businessman and aviator who died in 2003, was a longtime benefactor of the American Civil Liberties Union and a public library patron. Millar said Bobby Roberts, retired executive director of the Central Arkansas Library System, and Joel Anderson, who retired as chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, have agreed to be on his nonprofit’s board. He hopes to have it fully seated by summer. ‘Trump Bump’ The nonprofit news network, which hopes to be an incubator for a diverse array of emerging writers, says in its stat

Vice All News Time14 February 2017 15:31:50


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Online sales tax legislation advances

03 February 2017 05:02:35 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

Two bills aimed at raising state revenue through the collection of sales and use tax on online purchases cleared their first hurdles this week. Senate Bill 140, filed by Sen. Jake Files (R-Fort Smith) , passed on a voice vote in the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee on Wednesday. It would require out-of-state sellers who do a certain amount of business in Arkansas to collect sales and use tax. House Bill 1388, which passed on a voice vote with some dissent in the House Revenue and Tax Committee on Thursday, would require out-of-state online retailers, who do not already collect sales and use tax in the state, to warn Arkansas customers that a sales or use tax was due. Online retailers would also have to send the customer an annual statement detailing the online purchases and taxes owed and would have to send an annual report of sales for each customer to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville) , lead sponsor of HB 1338, said, “It’s really a simple bill. It’s about catching the state of Arkansas up with the future.” The two bills are modeled after legislation passed and litigated in other states. The House bill is modeled after a Colorado law that was upheld by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear the case, allowing the appellate court’s decision to stand. The Senate bill is based on legislation adopted in South Dakota. Online retailers sued after the law went into effect; their suit is pending. Arkansas SB 140 requires online sellers that gross more than $100,000 in at least 200 separate transactions to collect sales tax. Amazon began collecting sales tax on purchases made in South Dakota after the law was passed. The revenue impact of both bills is unknown, according to Department of Finance and Administration. The full Senate was expected to consider SB 140 on Monday. The full House was expected to consider HB 1338 the same day. This reporting is courtesy of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network , an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans.

Vice null Time03 February 2017 05:02:35


House committee advances higher ed funding shift

25 January 2017 06:14:23 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

An Arkansas House committee has approved Governor Hutchinson's plan to alter the funding formula for higher education . The House Education Committee advanced a bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle) on Tuesday that would send state dollars to public colleges and universities based on performance. The state now awards colleges and universities money mostly based on enrollment. The bill would not establish a new funding model. Rather, it would require the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to authorize a model developed by the state Department of Education following principles set forth in the legislation. The model would include metrics such as affordability and how long it takes students to complete their degrees, Maria Markham , director of the state Higher Education Department, told legislators. It would also take into consideration to what degree schools enroll underserved populations, as defined by race, income or academic status, Markham said. “We have been very purposeful about creating a weighting system that did not disincentivize institutions, either two-year or four-year, from effectively serving those populations that reside and attend their schools,” she said. “I'd like to know, is not this a model really for making the weak weaker, and the strong stronger, rather than addressing the needs of the children?” Rep. John W. Walker (D-Little Rock) asked. "I'm concerned because we're making these judgments … without any real evidence that it will change anything or it will help people who need education the most.” Lowery cited the success of similar models in Indiana and Tennessee. The measure passed on a voice vote. It now heads to the full House. This reporting is courtesy of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network , an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans.

Vice null Time25 January 2017 06:14:23


Apple's new MacBook Pro just lost a major endorsement — here's why

23 December 2016 20:59:32 Atlanta Business News - Local Atlanta News | Atlanta Business Chronicle

Consumer Reports revealed Thursday that it won’t recommend Apple’s new MacBook Pro line due to battery life. This marks the first time the magazine has held back from recommending the Cupertino-based company’s laptops. “The laptops did very well in measures of display quality and performance, but in terms of battery life, we found that the models varied dramatically from one trial to another, the magazine wrote in a blog post. Complaints about MacBook Pro batteries have been prevalent…

Vice All News Time23 December 2016 20:59:32


Intro to ANNN

21 December 2016 22:08:29 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Nonprofit News Network is an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans. The Arkansas Times was founded on $200 and a conviction that investigative reporting had the power to transform Arkansas for the better. We've stayed true to that mission for more than four decades, while also expanding our place in the community — as a source for breaking news and analysis online, a cultural compendium, a general interest guide to Arkansas life and a political refuge for progressives in an ever-reddening state. But the internet has upended traditional publishing models, which has affected not just the Arkansas Times , but news media everywhere. The leadership at the Times has proven time and time again to be adaptable, and we remain confident in our long-term future. But, with the exception of major outlets like the New York Times and NPR, most newsrooms, including the Times, cannot devote sufficient resources to do sustained reporting on complicated issues. That's why, as a side project to my work as editor of the Times , I've founded the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network . ANNN is an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans. With funding from grants and donations, it will hire writers, editors, fact-checkers, photographers, videographers and audio producers on a contract basis to cover a story or topic. Their reporting will then be distributed for free among statewide partners — likely including radio, TV, newspapers and websites — which will publish all, or localized parts, of it. Impact will be ANNN's chief measure of success. We will only pursue stories that have the potential to bring about change. Since it will exist outside the bounds of a news product that has to maintain a regular publication cycle, ANNN contract employees will be able to proceed methodically, affording each project a rare depth of reporting and rigor in editing and fact-checking. The Times has employed a similar model in recent years, often with the help of a nonprofit partner. After the 2013 Mayflower oil spill, we joined with the environmental nonprofit InsideClimate News to raise almost $36,000 through crowdfunding and a grant. The team of reporters hired with that money, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth McGowan, filed more than a dozen major stories that ran in the Times and on InsideClimate News' website. In 2015, the Times reported on the "rehoming" of two young girls adopted by state Rep. Justin Harris with another family, where one of the children was abused. In the wake of that story, the Times raised about $23,000 through crowdfunding and a grant to further investigate the state's child welfare system. That money allowed us to hire Kathryn Joyce, an award-winning reporter based in New York City, who has twice traveled to Arkansas for extended periods. So far, she's written five in-depth articles for the Times in a special series titled "Children in Crisis." ANNN will launch with coverage of the 91st Arkansas General Assembly, with a special focus on education and tax issues. Legislation has already been filed, or is promised, that would greatly expand school vouchers, make it easier to fire teachers and administrators and allow private management corporations to take over certain school districts, including the Little Rock School District. The legislature will consider whether K-12 education, the largest share of the state's budget, is adequately funded as required by the state Constitution. Increased funding for pre-K and moving higher education funding from enrollment-based to performance-driven also will be debated. All of these discussions will be steered by, and sometimes inform, the debate over how large a tax cut the state budget can afford (a cut of some size is seen as given). Ibby Caputo, of Newton County, will provide ANNN's coverage from the state Capitol. Her journalism, essays and photography have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Cape Cod Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, theAtlantic.com and elsewhere. ANNN is a registered nonprofit in the state of Arkansas that, in its startup year, will operate under the fiscal sponsorship of the Fred Darragh Foundation. Local editors and I will volunteer our time to manage ANNN until funds become available to support a full-time editor-in-chief. To make a tax deductible donation to ANNN, visit arknews.org or make out a check to the Fred Darragh Foundation and mail it to the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, P.O. Box 250746, Little Rock, 72225-0746.

Vice null Time21 December 2016 22:08:29


Introducing the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

21 December 2016 17:17:38 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Time s was founded on $200 and a conviction that investigative reporting had the power to transform Arkansas for the better. We’ve stayed true to that mission for more than four decades, while also expanding our place in the community — as a source for breaking news and analysis online, a cultural compendium, a general interest guide to Arkansas life and a political refuge for progressives in an ever-reddening state. But the internet has upended traditional publishing models, which has affected not just the Arkansas Times , but news media everywhere. In the last 20 years, as revenues have declined, the newspaper workforce has shrunk by about 20,000 positions, or by 40 percent. The leadership at the Times has proven time and time again to be adaptable, and we remain confident in our long-term future. But, with the exception of major outlets like the New York Times and NPR, most newsrooms, including the Times , cannot devote sufficient resources to do sustained reporting on complicated issues. That’s why, as a side project to my work as editor of the Times , I’ve founded the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network . ANNN is an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans. With funding from grants and donations, it will hire writers, editors, fact-checkers, photographers, videographers and audio producers on a contract basis to cover a story or topic. Their reporting will then be distributed for free among statewide partners — likely including radio, TV, newspapers and websites — which will publish all, or localized parts, of it. Impact will be ANNN’s chief measure of success. We will only pursue stories that have the potential to bring about change. Since it will exist outside the bounds of a news product that has to maintain a regular publication cycle, ANNN contract employees will be able to proceed methodically, affording each project a rare depth of reporting and rigor in editing and fact-checking. The Times has employed a similar model in recent years, often with the help of a nonprofit partner. After the 2013 Mayflower oil spill, we joined with the environmental nonprofit InsideClimate News to raise almost $36,000 through crowdfunding and a grant. The team of reporters hired with that money, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth McGowan , filed more than a dozen major stories that ran in the Times and on InsideClimate News’ website. One focused on residents who lived near the spill and had complained to authorities for months of adverse health effects related to fumes to no avail . Within weeks of the article being published, the governor announced free health screenings for the affected residents. In 2015, the Times reported on the “rehoming” of two young girls adopted by state Rep. Justin Harris with another family, where one of the children was abused. In the wake of that story, the Times raised about $23,000 through crowdfunding and a grant to further investigate the state’s child welfare system. That money allowed us to hire Kathryn Joyce , an award-winning reporter based in New York City, who has twice traveled to Arkansas for extended periods. So far, she’s written five in-depth articles for the Times in a special series titled “Children in Crisis." In November, the state Department of Human Services released a report outlining ways to stabilize the child welfare system, including ambitious goals to hire more caseworkers, increase placement of children with relatives, streamline the foster parent application process and eliminate reliance on behavioral health institutions for foster children. All were topics on which Joyce has extensively reported for the Times . ANNN also will function as an incubator for emerging writers, editors and producers, particularly for journalists of color. Editorially, it also will prioritize reporting that affects groups that are often ignored in Arkansas media, including rural, immigrant, LGBTQ, Latino and African-American communities. Transparency will be a core value for ANNN. Donors will have no say in editorial direction and other operations. ANNN will disclose on its website all contributors who give $500 or more, and will disclose any instance in which donors’ work or business figures into ANNN reporting. All ANNN work will be tagged with our mission statement and any relevant disclosures. ANNN will launch with coverage of the 91st Arkansas General Assembly, with a special focus on education and tax issues. Legislation has already been filed, or is promised, that would greatly expand school vouchers, make it easier to fire teachers and administrators and allow private management corporations to take over certain school districts, including the Little Rock School District. The legislature will consider whether K-12 education, the largest share of the state’s budget, is adequately funded as required by the state Constitution. Increased funding for pre-K and moving higher education funding from enrollment-based to performance-driven also will be debated. All of these discussions will be steered by, and sometimes inform, the debate over how large a tax cut the state budget can afford (a cut of some size is seen as given). Ibby Caputo, of Newton County, will provide ANNN’s coverage from the state Capitol. A 2014-2015 MIT-Knight Science Journalism Fellow, Caputo covered health care, transportation and breaking news as a reporter for WGBH’s Boston Public Radio and WGBH-TV. Her work has aired on “The World,” “NPR News,” “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Weekend Edition,” “Marketplace Morning Report” and “Marketplace Tech.” Her journalism, essays and photography have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Cape Cod Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, theAtlantic.com and elsewhere. ANNN is a registered nonprofit in the state of Arkansas that, in its startup year, will operate under the fiscal sponsorship of the Fred Darragh Foundation. Local editors and I will volunteer our time to manage ANNN until funds become available to support a full-time editor-in-chief. Aside from minimal travel, housing and web-hosting expenses, ANNN will have no overhead; 95 percent of money raised will directly underwrite meaningful journalism. To make a tax deductible donation to ANNN, visit arknews.org or make out a check to the Fred Darragh Foundation and mail it to the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, P.O. Box 250746, LR, 72225-0746.

Vice null Time21 December 2016 17:17:38


Arkansas Colleges See New Funding Formula

07 September 2016 19:28:43 Daily Report - ArkansasBusiness.com

Maria Markham said the metrics for the state’s new funding formula for colleges and universities should be finalized later this month. Markham, the director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said a work group writing the new formula is about 90 percent finished. The final formula will need to be approved by the Legislature for the plan to begin in 2018. The formula seeks to change the dynamic from one in which state dollars follow students to one in which dollars follow successful students. In education-speak, it is called an outcome-based or performance-based formula rather than enrollment-based metric. Critics say that outcome-based plans do little to improve actual performance, but Markham said the new formula will help Arkansas achieve Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s 2025 goal of having 60 percent of Arkansas high school graduates earn some type of postgraduate degree or certificate. The University of Arkansas System and the Arkansas State University System supported the formula change when it was approved in July. “It’s the right thing for our state,” said Markham, who was named chief of ADHE in July. “It incentivizes colleges to take the most efficient, effective and affordable means necessary to move students from the point of initial enrollment to progress through their education and graduate with a marketable credential. “Those institutions that are doing things right and putting their resources in places that really promote student success are going to be rewarded for that. There’s a possibility that institutions who don’t do that could actually lose money if they fall below what’s expected for productivity.” Arkansas is in need of improvement. Just 29.8 percent of Arkansans between the ages of 25 and 64 have an associate’s degree or better compared with 40.4 percent nationally, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Lumina Foundation, a private foundation in Indianapolis whose goal is to improve higher education in the United States. Lumina is advising the ADHE on reworking best practices from other states to fit Arkansas’ needs. “The goal is not to create winners and losers,” Markham said. “The goal is statewide productivity increase.” Outcome Questions Nick Hillman, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said expectations that outcome-based funding would help colleges achieve better results haven’t been met. In a report for the Century Foundation, a think tank in New York City, Hillman said 12 studies of such funding initiatives haven’t shown significant results. “Across this body of research, the weight of evidence suggests states using performance-based funding do not outperform other states,” Hillman wrote. “Despite each state having goals related to improving college completions, their performance-based funding policies have not yet achieved the desired results.” In one state, Hillman wrote, out-come based funding caused universities to become more selective in the students they admitted, to improve the odds of producing graduates. In another state, community colleges issued more certificates than associate degrees. But promoters of performance-based funding — like Scott Jenkins, director of state policy for Lumina — believe that the formulas are getting better at creating the desired results. “Unfortunately, most of the academic research on this topic doesn’t distinguish between the relatively recent, well-designed funding systems and those that were enacted before 2005,” Jenkins said. “It takes a series of years for those state policies to filter down into the practice of those institutions. We’re getting ready to put out some emerging research that actually does show some pretty good success.” Jenkins said part of Lumina’s role is to work with multiple states to review what works and what doesn’t as the plans are implemented or begin to produce statistics. ‘Devil in the Details’ Evelyn Jorgenson, president of Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, said she is optimistic the new formula will prove to be both fair and effective. About a quarter of NWACC’s budget comes from state funding; across Arkansas, higher education funding has remained flat while tuition has increased. Jorgenson is hopeful community colleges won’t be penalized because their students are predominantly nontraditional students, who can be more costly to move through to graduation — something Markham said the new formula will take into account. “In a total broad sense, I’m very much in favor of a focus on results,” Jorgenson said. “I think it’s very important for legislators and others to understand the missions of the various institutions. At community colleges, we serve students who don’t have the luxury of letting go of life and living on a residential campus and going to school and not having anything else to do. Many of our students are parents themselves — they’re juggling jobs, kids, house payments, car payments, the entire mix of things. “As always, the devil is in the details. I just hope lawmakers and other involved in this process are cognizant of the differences between community colleges and highly selective institutions.” Markham said that the formula will take the differences into account by comparing the results of two-year and four-year schools separately. “We know that two-year schools, they receive a lot more students who are academically underprepared than the four-year institutions,” said Markham, who was chief academic officer at two-year UA-Cossatot before joining the ADHE. “If you’re serving a student who is academically underprepared — like they have a really low ACT or poor grade-point average — you actually get more ‘points’ when that student succeeds than when other students succeed.” Markham said the state understands that a white, middle-class student with a 25 score on his or her ACT is a less expensive student to educate than, as an example, a 30-year-old Hispanic student for whom English is a second language. Statewide, 21.1 percent of African-Americans and 12.4 percent of Hispanics between the ages of 25 and 64 have an associate degree or better, compared with 31.8 percent of whites. Nationally, the numbers are 45 percent of whites, 28.7 percent of blacks and 20.9 percent of Hispanics. “We have to focus on those underserved, or our numbers aren’t going to change as a state,” Markham said. “We’re going to give you more money so you can be successful. Once you’re successful, you’re rewarded for that success. It disincentivizes any type of selection toward groups of students who are just statistically more likely to be successful, but it also incentivizes the practices the underrepresented groups.” But performance-based models haven’t necessarily resulted in success with a more diverse population. In his report, Hillman said Indiana saw universities become less diverse after the funding change. Jenkins said it was an issue that states have to be vigilant about. “It’s a really valid concern,” Jenkins said. “You have to make it worth the while of the institution. This isn’t done in a vacuum.” A Matter of Degrees Markham said that while the details are still being finalized, the formula will give more weight to degrees earned in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Although Hillman’s research at the University of Wisconsin looked skeptically on skill-specific certificates rather than associate degrees, Jorgenson wants the new formula to respect certifi

Vice All News Time07 September 2016 19:28:43


State GOP chair spreads garbage about Democratic candidate

18 August 2016 15:25:06 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

A tale of media manipulation by the fact-deficient Republican Party. State Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb blasted out a news release on social media yesterday suggesting Democratic Senate candidate Conner Eldridge and the state Democratic Party had not complied with campaign finance reporting rules. His allegation appears to have been inaccurate, if not an outright lie. Contributions to a separate fund supporting Eldridge HAVE been reported individually, contrary to what Webb suggested. The contribution of money from that fund to the Democratic Party HAS been reported. Payments from that money have been made LEGALLY to the coordinated federal campaign effort under a written agreement between the Democratic Party and the Eldridge campaign. Eldridge's brother is manager of the coordinated campaign, thus he has been legally paid from coordinated campaign funds, says Democratic Party spokesman H.L. Moody. Nonetheless, social media is full of Webb's allegation and at least one media outlet, the Arkansas News Bureau, reported it u nder headline: "State GOP chairman accuses Dems of legal violation." The headline is accurate — as far as it goes. And reporter John Lyon went on to explain in the article why the accusation appears to be bogus through Democratic official response. (Doyle Webb was nowhere to be found then to back up his original assertion.) Traditional journalism is sometimes ill-equipped for the lying liars of today's political world. (Trump anyone?) It is hard to ignore explicit political blasts like Webb's. But if they are to be reported at all, you wonder if they must always follow the charge/rebuttal model, rather than an approach that gets more directly at the truth of a story. I'd like to see a story headlined like this: "Republican leader lies about opponent; dodges questions about facts." The good news is that the Republican Party apparently HAS taken notice of Conner Eldridge, who is challenging Sen. John Boozman. (He's the senior senator from Arkansas, a Republican, in case you are among many unfamiliar with the name for his lack of noteworthy record.)

Vice null Time18 August 2016 15:25:06


'A bevy of new Benzes': Mercedes-Benz reveals new cars for 2017

26 July 2016 12:11:53 Atlanta Business News - Local Atlanta News | Atlanta Business Chronicle

Mercedes-Benz, which last year moved its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta and put its symbol on the city's new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is preparing to roll out some amazing new rides for 2017. The company has just issued its mid-year investor report, where it lifts the hood on new models about to arrive on dealers' showroom floors. "The next calendar year will also be filled with a bevy of new Benzes," notes auto writer Will Sabel Courtney in a July 25 story on Thedrive.com. Among these is -- perfect…

Vice All News Time26 July 2016 12:11:53


New Walton College Dean Matt Waller Confronts E-Commerce Revolution

18 May 2016 19:45:13 Daily Report - ArkansasBusiness.com

Two days before journalists reported that Wal-Mart planned to offer two-day delivery service — a retailing model pioneered by Amazon — Matt Waller addressed the importance of understanding retail logistics, e-commerce and the millennial shopper. The effort has resulted in a robot bustling about on campus and plans for flying drones. Waller is the new dean of the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, after having served as interim dean since June 1. He has a long history at the college — he started teaching there in 1994 — and deep experience in retail supply chain management and logistics. When the Department of Supply Chain Management was established in July 2011, Waller chaired it. And he’s co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Business Logistics. As soon as he was named interim dean last year, Waller said, one of his first acts was to visit Doug McMillon, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville. The two men discussed the new retail landscape. “Especially for young shoppers, the digital and the physical shopping process has merged,” Waller said. “They are often using their smartphones while they’re shopping. Sometimes they’re ordering things while they’re shopping in a physical store.” McMillon told Waller, “We really need students who understand how this will change supply chain management, logistics, product design, store design, shopping patterns, etc.” The creation of the McMillon Innovation Studio on the UA campus is an outgrowth of that discussion. One aspect of that studio, which is part of the Walton College and the Center for Retailing Excellence, is a delivery robot provided by Starship Technologies, based in London and Estonia. It looks like “a cooler with wheels and an antenna,” Waller said of the robot, also called a land drone. The Innovation Studio, the only U.S. research lab working with Starship, is using the robot to experiment with the fulfillment of online orders. The studio occupies a former convenience store at street level of the Harmon Avenue Parking Garage, which Waller said is the largest parking garage in Arkansas, with nine levels. Robot Delivery System Researchers are experimenting with a delivery model that uses the robot to deliver orders from the small-store format Walmart on Campus, which opened in 2011, to lockers in the garage. “The idea is that the robot would go over to the Walmart on Campus, get fulfilled, take product to the locker in the parking garage and then it would be put in the locker,” Waller said. “And it would be going back and forth all day, fulfilling orders that way.” Customers can then pick up those orders from the lockers as they enter the garage for their cars. The college also wants to experiment with “final-mile delivery,” which would see the robot delivering to apartments and dormitories. “When you look at a lot of these logistics problems that are created by the new shopping experience, you need expertise on the one hand from people like mechanical engineers and industrial engineers,” Waller said. “But on the other hand, you also need expertise from marketing and even accounting and finance in terms of calculating ROI and those kinds of things.” “Because the Sam M. Walton College of Business is known as a leader in research and retail supply chain management, we’re putting a lot of effort into things like that,” Waller said. “I think we’re the only school in the country doing work like that. And of course the thanks go to Doug McMillon because he’s funded it.” Robots are one subject for study by the College of Business; flying drones are another. “What we’re doing with the robots, we originally planned to do with drones, and we realized, ‘You know, robots are probably going to be used first and more commonly,’ so we started there,” Waller said. “However, we certainly will use drones as well. “There’s lots of policy and rules about using drones on campus, but we’re thinking about eventually parking them on top of the Harmon Parking Garage,” he said. The college will need to get permission to fly drones on campus. “We do want to experiment with actually delivering product to dorm rooms and events using drones.” Researchers’ current focus, however, is on the robot and some basic requirements, like ensuring it’s navigating the campus properly. To that end, students are mapping the campus and following the robot to study how it’s coping. “Our campus is so hilly,” he said. “If it’s full of product, might have trouble getting up some of the hills.” There’s also a lot of construction on campus, which the robot is having to learn how to move around. “And we don’t want students to get on top of it and ride it, which is possible,” Waller said of the robot, laughing. “We haven’t had it happen yet, but when we’ve talked to students, a couple of students have said that they think that’s a possibility, that people might try to ride it. “So we’re trying to figure out how can we socialize it in a way that would make students respect it and not want to ride it across campus.” And that, Waller said, provides an opportunity for even psychology and sociology students to become involved. (Related: Walton College of Business Scholarship Reaches Out to ‘Underrepresented’ )

Vice All News Time18 May 2016 19:45:13