Sunday, June 06, 2004

Arkansas Tonight

I've been meaning to blog about an interesting experiment in multimedia quietly going on in Northwest Arkansas -- Arkansas Tonight.

It begins with Don Elkins, a former Chicago reporter and editor who moved to Fayetteville, to become managing editor and anchor for regional NBC affiliate Arkansas 24/51. But that's just the start.

Don also writes opinion and analysis pieces for local papers and wire services like Northwest Arkansas Times. But wait! It keeps on going.

Don has a talk radio show at KFAY AM1030 on Saturday evenings at 6PM. Not in the area? Not a problem. You can access the radio show via the Internet and participate that way.

But best of all, Don runs a website, Arkansas Tonight which he treats as a blog. There you can read Don's fiercely intelligent thoughts on the stories of the day, guest pieces from other Arkansas writers, and comment from friends, readers, viewers and listeners. The NBC station may be his paying gig and his career, but the website is the hub of an amazing web and media conglomerate.

I have to say that his politics are pretty diametrical from mine, but he's got the smarts and the fund of knowledge to back his opinions up. How he finds the time to do it, I can't imagine, though to judge by some of his posting times, he gets very little sleep.

I also don't see how he gets away with it. This past week, he addressed the concerns of a television viewer who wondered how he could be objective and fair on the air while being so strongly opinionated on the web. It made for a readable dialogue, of a sort. But how his employers don't fear backlash, and so try to quash him, is a puzzlement.

If you are a Memphis media professional who is unaware of Don's one-man experiment, I strongly urge you to go and check this out. He's blazing a trail that I'd like to see others follow, just to see how it plays out. He is, as they used to say, "bringing it all together" in a novel and readable way.

Good luck, Don.

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