Little Rock Look Back: Final ARKANSAS GAZETTE

Twenty-five years ago today, on October 18, 1991, the final edition of the Arkansas Gazette was delivered. 

The front page featured a story on the demise of a Gazette employee effort to buy the paper. 

Max Brantley’s column on the front page of the B section also addressed the then-eminent end of the paper. However, as a newspaper all of the sections spent most of their space on the news of the day. While Gazette staffers felt the end was likely near, few felt that the paper on October 18, 1991, would be the final edition.  

The back page of the last section of the Gazette featured an ad for Premiere Pontiac Nissan Audi which was throwing a “Beat Texas” party featuring Craig O’Neill.  The Arkansas Razorbacks were scheduled to play the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, October 19. 

Here are the top halves of the front pages of sections B, C, D, and E for the final Atkansas Gazette.  They tell the storie of trials, football games, corporate earnings, and cultural events. 

3 thoughts on “Little Rock Look Back: Final ARKANSAS GAZETTE

  1. A quarter century back, I picked up my Sonny Boy from elementary school. We stopped by the florist.
    – got 3 identical bouquets — fall colors of orange and yellow hued blossoms ‘n greenery.
    These were to represent tangible tributes…

    The first bouquet went to the home of cartoonist GEORGE FISHER.
    He was ‘the essence’ of the newspaper.
    We sat in his studio and shared stories.
    (George – who had an art business on the side – hired me to do a couple projects;
    I did a calendar that proved so popular, it sold out 4 editions;
    Next was a poster for the Rockefeller Institute of Politics & Government.
    Today, a copy sells for about $150.00! I give him full credit — I was just the designer.)

    George was so moved by the flowers — and knowing of my public speaking —
    he invited me to address the audience (the following evening) at the ceremony
    marking The Closing Of The Gazette.

    We then took a bouquet to JOHN WOODRUFF – (30 years on the North Little Rock beat.)
    He had broken stories on the then-U.S. Att. Gen’s wife, Martha Mitchell, who had a penchent
    for dial’n the Gazette newsroom in the wee morning hours with unbridled stories
    about the White House activities during Watergate!
    John was ‘a Prince-of-a-man.’ Sadly, when we departed the newsroom for a final time,
    dear John was sitting at his desk, arms folded and head down.

    The last bouquet was delivered Mt. Holly Cemetery..
    It wass for the grave of WILLIAM WOODRUFF, the founder of the newspaper.
    James and I had a copy of the latest edition along with the bouquet,
    which we tied with yellow ribbon to the ornate iron fencing around the Woodruff family plot.
    I then wrote a note — expressing appreciation for the quality newspaper and expressing sorrow
    that Arkansas would not have the Gazette for another 172 years…

    A photo of the flowers, edition of the paper as well as my letter was snapped by a Gazette photographer.
    It was published — above the fold on the front page — of the final copy of ‘The Old Gray Lady.’
    (*We returned the next day – replacing the orig. letter and bouquet – NOT STEALING
    – just preserving the historic items. I still have them.)

    The next evening, the speakers were all men and (as promised) one woman, marking the end of the newspaper.
    (*This has never been accurately reported – an amazing mishap
    considering the subject as well as professional reporters!)

    Pres of the Bricklayers & Allied Craftsman Union for Ark. – Tom Kyzer –
    had brought 172 brick. He fashioned a display on the sidewalk in front of the old building.
    On the end of each brick was written a year in the life of the paper…up till 1991.
    The crowd was invited to take a brick as ‘a keepsake of the event.’
    It also bespoke the famed JOHN RUSKIN line which I included in my address…
    paraphrasing here…
    “When we build, let us build so that some day in the distance,
    our children will say: “Look what our Fathers did for us.”

  2. I had no connection to Arkansas back then, but I want to tell you that newspaper journalists in the northeast who I happened to know held the Gazette in very high esteem.

    I’m intrigued by this particular sentence in your post:

    “… While Gazette staffers felt the end was likely near, few felt that the paper on October 18, 1991, would be the final edition.”

    So, they really did not know that the boom had been dropped with that edition? What happened next? Did a hired security force show up to escort everyone out of the buildings before sundown? Did people who worked different shifts show up for work, only to encounter padlocked doors? Did pay checks bounce?

    I sound dramatic, I know, but I worked at a stock brokerage firm that famously went down the tubes, and while it’s far from an apples-to-apples comparison to the newspaper, it makes me curious about follow-up details. And dramas.


    • The feeling was that the Gazette would be allowed to put out at least a “final” edition on Saturday, October 19, or even on Sunday, October 20. But instead it was closed immediately. For more information, ARKANSAS BUSINESS ran a series of articles earlier this fall which detailed the final days of the GAZETTE.

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