Red Wolves Sports Coverage in the Statewide Daily – Where’s the Blurb?


Editor’s note: The following is from our friends at ASU Fan Rules, and was originally titled: Why I hate the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (And why the Red Wolves need them.)

A couple years ago, I attended a lecture from a news director from one of the four Little Rock broadcast outlets. With enthusiasm, he outlined his station’s formula for success in reporting sports.

“We made a decision that our first priority is Razorback sports,” said the news director. “Anything Razorback, we lead with it! Our second priority is high school sports. We think that’s important! And third, the other colleges in the state.”

Along with the rest of the A-State fans in attendance, I was flabbergasted. This man wasn’t talking about journalism; he was preaching marketing. With a cocky grin on his face, he freely admitted that his news station was in the pocket of a single organization, the coverage for which was the “top priority.”

How can the Red Wolves hope to compete against a system of journalism that has relegated the program somewhere beneath high school sports?


Vaguely, I recall the days when Arkansas boasted two statewide papers, The Gazette and The Democrat. There were fans of one, and there were fans of the other. Through a process that I assume relied heavily upon sinister sorcery, the two papers blended into abomination we endure today.

With its competition permanently sidelined, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is free to cover whatever news deemed worthy of its editors and advertisers. As the state’s patriarchal news source, you’d think there would be an obligation to report news in an impartial, balanced manner.

There is no semblance of balance present in the paper’s sports section. Employing the very same tactics of Little Rock’s broadcast stations, nearly every column-inch of the ADG sports section is earmarked for University of Arkansas coverage – with a postage-stamp of space reserved for “other state colleges.”

The favoritism dedicated to the University of Arkansas Athletic Department is comical in its shamelessness. In a year when UofA’s athletic director fired two head football coaches and oversaw yet another mediocre basketball season, the paper breathlessly named him “Sportsman of the Year.” Wally Hall, the sports section’s accommodating senior editor, happily posts glowing columns about golfing with Frank Broyles, or squealing opinion pieces entitled “Bielema Makes a Great Event Even Better.”

On any given day, you can fish the sport’s section from the ADG and witness the favoritism first hand. For example, I just retrieved today’s (4/9/13) sport section. It’s April, a notoriously slow month for state sports, but the Hogs still manage to fill nearly every column inch.

But it’s not all Hogs. The front page also features professional golf, high school softball and baseball, and NBA. The remainder of the sports section focuses on Hogs recruiting, Hogs baseball, the Travelers, MLB, NHL(!), Hog golf, more high school sports, dirt track racing, and a thin column titled “State Sports Briefs” which curiously features more news from UofA.

Not a single mention of the state’s second largest FBS program, Arkansas State.


I have a vague understanding of economics.

The fact that Razorback news sells papers in this state does not escape me. I accept that without qualm. Profit should be the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette‘s chief concern.

Yet, the sports section I mentioned above features 8 pages, and much of its real estate occupies sports bearing little impact on Arkansans. Who turns to the ADG for NBA, NHL, or PGA news? I retrieve that content, freshly updated, straight off the internet. I assume most do.

But the ADG feels that Roberto Castro’s 63 at The Player’s Championship is more locally newsworthy than A-State’s baseball season, its new football coach, its surprisingly good softball team, or the recent additions made to its men’s basketball team.

None of this warrants even a blurb, according to the ADG.

I can’t explain why the ADG (or the four TV networks) won’t lend even a polite gesture of support to A-State. Perhaps every journalist in Arkansas has bought into the UofA’s bully-policy protecting its lucrative exclusivity. Maybe A-State simply fails to sell ad space. Perhaps even though several state journalists own degrees from A-State, they’re simply not fans.

But the fact is, the Arkansas State Red Wolves needs the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

I’ve spoken to some who say, “To hell with the Demonzette.” I’d like to share that sentiment. But we live in a world where the privileged programs get wealthier, and the smaller programs are being squeezed out. With the support of the state’s centralized paper, A-State could begin building the respect necessary to increasing a fan base beyond Northeast Arkansas. Our brand of athletics could grow. The university could grow. That would benefit the entire state. 

The flagrant news embargo on the Red Wolves isolates A-State and stunts its growth. This may be the ADG‘s pitiful intention, but I hope not. I hope that a coal of integrity and community-responsibility still burns within the state’s sole statewide newspaper.

I’m not holding my breath.

Tell us what you think in the poll and comments section below.

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