APM Report: Arkansas's Indecorous Bill Catches NPR Spotlight

Mar 1, 2017

Arkansas Public Media reporter Sarah Whites-Koditschek's report on a bill wiping the name Clinton from the national airport in Little Rock led NPR's U.S. news page Wednesday morning.
Credit NPR / Arkansas Public Media

A report on a state legislator's bill to wipe the name Clinton from Little Rock's national airport was the lead story on NPR's U.S. news page Wednesday morning. 

Arkansas Weighs Whether To Remove The Clinton Name From Little Rock's Airport

Arkansas Public Media reporter Sarah Whites-Koditschek filed the report as part of NPR's ambitious new reporting partnership with dozens of radio stations and public radio reporting projects like Arkansas Public Media across the nation. The state governance project seeks to cover statehouses and legislation debates with an eye toward what trends nationally are impacting local governance, and vice versa.

According to reporting by Harvard's Nieman Lab, the collaborations allow NPR to share its resources with partner stations while the stations themselves can take cues from each other and help shape NPR's national coverage.

The basis of the collaboration is a Slack channel where editors and reporters can investigate coverage as well as a weekly phone call-in.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek, Little Rock Cornbread Festival 2016
Credit Bobby Ampezzan / Arkansas Public Media

"I was participating in NPR's new statehouse collaborative phone call last week and ... editor Brett Neely said he was looking for stories about breaches in political decorum as part of NPR's tracking of how state politics are changing with a Trump presidency," says Whites-Koditschek.

"Arkansas legislative politics are generally very civil and polite, at least from what the public can observe."

"Afterwards, I remembered Rapert's bill that would require the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport to drop their names, and I saw a petition circulating on Facebook to rename some Conway municipal sewage tanks after Rapert in his own hometown. 

"I mentioned this to Brett, the NPR editor, and the collaboration went from there."

This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media, a statewide journalism collaboration among public media organizations. Arkansas Public Media reporting is funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK and from members of the public. You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media’s reporting at arkansaspublicmedia.org. Arkansas Public Media is Natural State News with Context.