Bill Bowden | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Eliza Gaines was promoted to editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock.
For the past two years, she has served as the editor of the newspaper.
“I am honored and thrilled to become editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,” said Gaines.
Publisher Walter E. Hussman Jr. made the announcement Monday.
“She did a great job,” Hussman said. “She had a hard time. On the first day, she had to send everyone home because of COVID. “
“I think our staff have adapted very well,” said Gaines.
Due to the pandemic, much of the newspaper’s staff are still working from home.
Gaines is Hussman’s daughter and the fourth generation of the Hussman family to work in the newspaper industry. She is a former editor-in-chief of The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs. She was a travel reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle before earning a Masters in Journalism in 2012 from the University of North Carolina.
Prior to serving as Editor-in-Chief, Gaines was Vice President of Audience Development for WEHCO Media, serving the Democrat-Gazette and other newspapers operated by the company. She is the first woman to run the newspaper, founded in 1878.
“I was impressed with the way Eliza handled the increased resources and responsibilities,” said Nat Lea, President and CEO of WEHCO Media. “The move from The Sentinel Record to the Democrat-Gazette newsroom went very well. I know the time has come for Eliza to use this additional post to further improve our coverage.
The last person to hold the title of editor of the newspaper was Griffin Smith, who resigned in May 2012.
But a lot has changed since then, with the Democrat-Gazette making a major shift from print to a digital replica of the newspaper that can be read on computer screens. The digital push also includes the Arkansasonline.com website.
“My goal as editor is to devote more time and energy to the quality of our information products,” said Gaines. “We are no longer just a newspaper and we must maximize the technological capabilities of our digital platforms. We’re the state’s largest source of information, and I want to expose new readers to all of our products and remind existing subscribers why their investment matters.
“Eliza is the future of our organization,” said Lynn Hamilton, president and CEO of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc., a WEHCO affiliate that publishes the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“She’s a bright young woman who got involved in journalism,” he said. “We see her leading our organization for many years to come. This promotion to editor-in-chief is a natural progression.
Gaines said she and her husband Alec Gaines will welcome their fourth child in March.
“At the end of February, I will be leaving my post as editor,” she said.
Gaines said she would take leave until early September. She said she would be involved in newsroom decisions as editor-in-chief while on maternity leave.
Hussman said a search was underway within WEHCO to find a new editor for the Democrat-Gazette. If none are found within the company, the search will be broadened, he said.