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Arkansas Press Freedom Gala to be held October 20

The first Arkansas Press Freedom Gala will be held Thursday, Oct. 20 in the Wally Allen Ballroom at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by a steak dinner and the program at 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by the Arkansas Press Association.

“The Arkansas Press Freedom Gala is a celebration of both a free press and of individuals who have given so much to support journalism and encourage transparency,” said APA Executive Director Ashley Kemp Wimberley. “Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed the presentation of these awards. This night will be even more special now that we can gather again.”

Those to be honored include Governor Asa Hutchinson, who will receive the 2020 Headliner of the Year Award for accessibility to the media and transparency to Arkansas citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic and University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek, who will receive the 2021 Headliner of the Year Award for bringing national attention and positive headlines to the state with the success of the University’s athletic program under his leadership.

Distinguished Service Awards will be presented to Craig Renaud and the late Brent Renaud, filmmakers best known for their character-driven, cinéma vérité documentaries “Dope Sick Love,” “Last Chance High,” “Off to War” and “Meth Storm,” for contributions to journalism and documentary filmmaking in Arkansas and around the world. The Renaud Brothers are also the founders of the Little Rock Film Festival and the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute. Brent Renaud was killed in Ukraine earlier this year while filming the refugees of the Russian invasion, the first American journalist casualty of the war.

Golden 50 Service Awards, for those who have served 50 or more years in the newspaper industry, will be presented to columnist John Brummett and Chairman of WEHCO Media, Inc. and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Publisher Walter E. Hussman, Jr.

Rex Nelson, senior editor and columnist at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Visit for sponsorship or ticket information. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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