Reader Stu Soffer from White Hall (Jefferson County) reports that the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s shrinkage of daily circulation of a print edition has arrived on his home turf, not far down the road from the newspaper’s home office in Little Rock.

We reported earlier this month on the statewide daily’s pullback from daily print delivery in the El Dorado, Magnolia and Camden areas, in addition to earlier pullbacks in eastern and northeastern Arkansas. The newspaper is offering the loan of tablet computers to receive a digital edition of the newspaper with a paid subscription.


Soffer provided a copy of a letter he’d received this week from the Democrat-Gazette citing the “declining economics” of the newspaper business in announcing an end to print delivery of his newspaper Monday through Saturday. A full subscription will include a Sunday print edition (a newspaper that contains the still-lucrative advertising inserts.) The letter from publisher Walter Hussman acknowledged that many prefer print. But:

We also realize that the future of newspapers and journalism is digital. There are inescapable economic advantages to digital delivery that we must adopt so that we can remain a viable source of high quality news.

We at the Times feel the pain of declining circulation and, particularly, advertising that have migrated to web sources. Thus our switch to monthly print circulation next month, with an enhanced digital presence.


But like Stu Soffer and old fogeys everywhere, we mourn the loss of daily delivery of a print newspaper. (I still pay a premium to receive a daily print New York Times. Good as that paper’s digital presence is, there’s a certain completeness about a one-day compilation of what a talented group of writers and editors have decided is the top news of the day.)

Soffer is unhappy, too, because of recent reductions in size and frequency of his local newspaper, The Pine Bluff Commercial. He says government accountability is already suffering in Jefferson County on account of decreased news coverage. He adds:


The Dem Gaz is offering a free tablet to read it on-line. What about those long-term loyal readers such as us who have been a subscriber since 96 who don’t want an electronic newspaper?

I happen to think the D-G’s online replica of the daily print edition works well. But I have reasonably reliable WiFi at home. If you read the D-G (and don’t listen to the governor when he talks about the Medicaid work rule) you are well-informed about the abysmal rate of computer access in Arkansas.

And speaking of digital news: Have you heard about the malware attacks this weekend on newspapers throughout the country that produced huge production and circulation problems? When your component parts were just lead, ink and paper, an attack on information sources was hard to do on a national scale.