Editor honored for investigative reporting

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Scott Loftis, managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers, recently was honored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Loftis won first place in the investigative reporting category for non-daily newspapers in the SPJ’s 2020 Diamond Journalism Awards, announced June 30 in a virtual presentation. Loftis was honored for his work on a series of reports about the background and hiring of Lacey Ekberg, former executive director of the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Professional and student journalists, including freelancers, residing in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas were eligible for the competition. Entries were judged by members of the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

“Nice job following a story with many twists and turns,” judges wrote of Loftis’ entry. “It appears it took quite a bit of digging and records to unveil what really happened behind the scenes of a convoluted hiring. This series was thoroughly reported and full of details.”

Ekberg was hired as executive director of the CAPC in July 2019 and began work a month later. Loftis’ reporting later revealed several discrepancies in Ekberg’s resume as well as the fact that the CAPC never approved the hiring in open session as required by state law. The commission voted in February to remove Ekberg from her position as a full-time city employee and place her on a 90-day agreement as an independent contractor. In April, the commission voted not to extend that agreement, which expired May 14.

“It’s a real honor to be recognized,” Loftis said. “I’m very proud of this award, but I’m more proud that we were able to bring some truth to light. That’s our goal as journalists.”

"I saw firsthand how hard Scott worked on that investigative report,” said associate editor Samantha Jones. “It took a lot of digging to get to the meat of the story. That kind of work is what inspired me to be a journalist and continues to inspire me daily.”

“Scott celebrated his sixth year as editor at Carroll County Newspapers in June,” said Carroll County Newspapers publisher Bob Moore. “During this time the editorial staff has won the General Excellence award two times, in 2017 and again in 2018, in the Arkansas Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. I think that is a testament of his abilities as a journalist and a leader. He does it all: covering city hall or high school sports. His ability to build relationships with community leaders while tackling the sometimes controversial issues makes him a respected member of the communities we serve.”

Carroll County Newspapers publishes the Carroll County News and the Lovely County Citizen newspapers as well several specialty publications.

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  • Congratulations and gratitude to Mr. Loftis. There's no question he saved the city significantly. The loss in reputation, money and marketing progress to the city could have been much more substantial had the facts of this story not been brought to light.

    -- Posted by outofthebox on Fri, Jul 17, 2020, at 4:58 PM
  • Big congrats! Eureka Springs was certainly headed down a dangerous road if the facts on this hiring had not come out. Great reporting.

    -- Posted by rb2020 on Sun, Jul 19, 2020, at 8:08 AM
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