A change in newsroom leadership at the Arkansas Times has led to the promotion of the first female editor-in-chief in the publication's nearly 50-year history.
Former Arkansas Times editorial director Austin Bailey will take on the role of editor-in-chief -- replacing Lindsey Millar -- and is the first woman to hold the position, the Arkansas Times reported Tuesday.
Millar remains as a contributing editor, but is leaving the newsroom to pursue a woodworking career, the Times said.
Millar gave notice of his intention to depart over a year ago to become a furniture maker, according to an Arkansas Business report in February.
Millar has been editor of the Times since 2011 and is also founder of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network; he took over for former Arkansas Times Senior Editor Max Brantley earlier this year.
Brantley announced his retirement in a blog post in January, on his 50-year anniversary of working in Little Rock. He spent 31 years working at the Arkansas Times and formerly worked at the Arkansas Gazette for 19 years, starting in 1973.
"Lindsey Millar is a tough act to follow, and I think we will all miss his brainy approach to covering local news with elegance and creativity," Bailey said.
"He started the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network while he was editor at the Arkansas Times, and offering readers both quick takes and deeper dives is definitely something we plan to continue. Lindsey promises to take our calls, and Max Brantley has been great about that, too. The ghosts of those two guys will continue to lurk in the margins."
Bailey, 47, started as managing editor at the Arkansas Times in 2021.
The North Carolina-native previously worked as a reporter for the Pocono Record and the Rocky Mountain Telegram in North Carolina, as well as at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from 2000 to 2005; Bailey later worked as editor of World Ark, Heifer International's magazine, before joining the Times.
She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her undergraduate degree.
Former managing editor Stephanie Smittle, 42, will be promoted to editorial director overseeing the monthly magazine while Bailey largely focuses on the arktimes.com website, the Times report stated; Benji Hardy, 38, will assume the role of managing editor.
Smittle and Hardy are Arkansas natives and graduated from Hendrix College.
Smittle was hired at the Times in 2016 and was previously entertainment editor; Hardy was previously an associate editor at the Times and has also worked for ProPublica and the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.
The Arkansas Times hired several new employees in the past year to fill in the ranks: Little Rock reporter Mary Hennigan, Conway reporter Debra Hale-Shelton and Entertainment Editor Daniel Grear, Bailey said.
"But our goal is the same," she said. "We'll whip up lively, timely news with local flavor and a progressive bent."