NW Ark. newspaper war over | Arkansas Blog

Monday, October 26, 2009

NW Ark. newspaper war over

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 6:13 PM

An e-mail bulletin from the Democrat-Gazette says the merger of the D-G Northwest Arkansas editions and the Morning News has been approved by the Justice Department and the merger will be accomplished Sunday.

Here's the story so far in the Morning News. Jobs? Still uncertain.

Employees of the two companies have been sent notification under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which says their jobs will be eliminated on or about Oct. 31. However, all have or will be given the opportunity to apply for jobs with the new company.

Tom Stallbaumer, publisher of The Morning News, will remain publisher for the daily and weekly newspapers other than the Northwest Edition of the Democrat-Gazette. Jeff Jeffus, a vice president with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc., who has been running the Democrat-Gazette operations in Northwest Arkansas, will continue in that role in addition to being president of the new company.

Stephens Media will control editorial functions of all of the newspapers other than the Democrat-Gazette Northwest Edition, and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette will control business office, advertising, and production aspects.

Rusty Turner, editor of The Morning News, will continue in that role, but his duties will expand to include the daily and weekly papers other than the Northwest Edition of the Democrat-Gazette. Susan Scantlin will remain editor of that edition.

Quote from Jeffus, new NWA newspaper czar: “I think this is in the best interests of both companies, and our readers and advertisers, too. We were both losing millions of dollars. You had to have a model that would succeed.”

This is, of course, balderdash. It's in the best interests only of the billionaire owners of the papers, who now can run a vertically integrated print monopoly -- daily, weekly, free alternative, Latino, important Hog publications -- in two prosperous counties without competition for ad dollars or circulation and without duplication of jobs   (More than 500 people have been employed to put out newspapers with combined circulation, counting substantial duplication, of 80,000 or so.) Competition for news? Dead.

What's going to happen is that Stephens executives will control content of locally oriented newspapers, zoned to the four major cities in Washington and Benton counties -- Fayetteville, Rogers, Springdale, Bentonville -- and they will wrap around a regional version of the D-G. Many D-G employees will remain in place for that newspaper's freestanding operation (presumably including some familiar columnists.) The D-G controls the dough. From a strictly business point of view, which would you rather control?

UPDATE: Dennis Byrd, who oversees Stephens Media newspapers in Central Arkansas the Little Rock news bureau that covers the Capitol says of the bureau: "We are still a Stephens Media operation. The "local" papers in NWA will still be getting anything we produce." The bureau will continue to supply material to the local papers and to others, such as the Arkansas Times, that buy syndicated services.

The D-G version of the story says about workers:

Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, letters were delivered Monday to all staff at the merged companies, telling them their jobs will be eliminated on or about Oct. 31. An unspecified number of those employees will be immediately hired by Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.

Tom Stallbaumer, publisher of The Morning News and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers, said all staff members who aren’t hired by the new company should be notified of that decision by Saturday.

Staff who aren’t hired by Northwest Arkansas Newspapers will be paid severance based on the amount they normally earn in a two-month period. Some employees will be paid more severance, depending on how long they have worked for the newspapers. Some employees may be asked to work during that time. Others won't.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Inc. has 369 employees in Northwest Arkansas, including 101 who are part time. Stephens Media has 188 full- and part-time employees in Northwest Arkansas.

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by munfordmiller

  • An eerie feeling

    You get an eerie feeling when reading "Hellhound on His Trail," Hampton Sides' great new book that traces James Earl Ray's stalking of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.There's an overwhelming feeling of the horrific similarity between the national mood in 1968 (George Wallace was making a serious run at the White House) and today.
    • May 7, 2010
  • Whoops

    CBS Evening News reported that the 1,000-point swoon on the New York Stock Exchange may have had less to do with Greek money troubles and more to do with some dumbo at an unnamed brokerage who punched the wrong button and sold a billion dollars worth of a stock instead or a million bucks worth.
    • May 6, 2010
  • The sound of silence

    Where is Sarah Palin now? Where is her band of sycophants now?
    • Apr 29, 2010
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Antwan Phillips wants to make a difference in reducing Little Rock violence

    KARK/Fox 16's push to do something about Little Rock violence includes a spotlight on people trying to make a difference — in this episode Antwan Phillips, a lawyer at Wright, Lindsey and Jennings.
    • Aug 30, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Guest Playlist: Flap Jones of "Not Necessarily Nashville" schools us on real country music

    "Not Necessarily Nashville," which airs on KUAR-FM 89.1 every Saturday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., celebrates three decades of the "best of the rest of country music" Saturday, October 21 at the White Water Tavern with Brad Williams of The Salty Dogs & The Creek Rocks, and we asked host Flap Jones to curate a playlist for us ahead of that anniversary celebration.
  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation