George C. Douthit Scholarship

In 1908, outside San Antonio, a future Arkansas state capital reporter named George C. Douthit was born. He'd never see the inside of a 10th grade classroom, but learn to report and write he did, for the Light and Evening News papers in the city before graduating to the Associated Press in Hot Springs and Fort Smith. 

George Douthit with his 1950 Associated Press Sweepstakes Prize-winning photo.

In 1954, with the Arkansas Democrat now and covering state politics, Douthit was stuck with the unenviable task of covering an upstart Democratic gubernatorial candidate out of the Ozark foothills. Most said he didn’t have a chance against incumbent Francis Cherry (or sensationalist Faulkner County senator Guy “Mutt” Jones), but most were wrong about Orval Faubus, and Douthit’s early coverage proved career-making. He was Faubus's favored reporter for most of the rest of his tenure.

Faubus and Douthit
Credit George C. Douthit Papers/UA LIBRARY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

In 1970 Douthit left the Democrat for other business opportunities, but by 1976 he'd returned to reporting, founding the State News Bureau. He was a one-man operation, and continued it through several years of cancer before his eventual death in 1985.

Afterward, a group of fellow reporters and family — John Robert Starr, Jon Kennedy, H.R. Herbie Byrd, Alyson LaGrossa (now Hoge) and Lana Bethune (his daughter) — founded the George C. Douthit Scholarship Trust. In September, 1986, the Democrat ran the announcement of the first $1,000 award winner: Elizabeth “Lisa” Sharp (now Cogbill), 19, a University of Arkansas sophomore and journalism major.

U.S. Congressman Ed Bethune with future President Bill Clinton and Judge Givens outside the Arkansas state capital at the memorial for George Douthit in 1985.

Thirty years later, Lana Bethune, in her capacity as trustee, signed over the balance of the scholarship trust, more than $75,000, to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where it will be used to establish the George C. Douthit Endowed Scholarship for a UALR student to participate in an internship or a graduate fellowship.

Arkansas Public Media, a publicly funded online news, radio and video broadcast collaboration for Arkansas, is the university's choice assignation.