Word arrives of still more reduction in newspapers in Arkansas, with reported closures coming in Stuttgart and Helena-West Helena and an end of local printing of the Pine Bluff Commercial.
GateHouse Media, which is merging with Gannett in a deal expected to produce continued reductions in properties of both national newspaper chains, has told staffs of changes this week at three Arkansas properties — in Stuttgart, Helena-West Helena and Pine Bluff.
The Stuttgart Leader will cease publication by Gatehouse Sept. 6, according to one source. Specifics on the other two aren’t readily available, but Pine Bluff reportedly will cease operating a press in 30 days. I have a question in with Gatehouse about plans.
John Worthen, who resigned earlier this week as managing editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial, provided some details in an e-mail:
He confirms the Commercial will shut down its press and says Stuttgart and Helena will no longer have Gatehouse newspapers (other employees hold out hope some buyers might emerge for the properties, but it is not a sellers’ market for newspapers these days).
Worthen said he was not sure where the Pine Bluff paper would be printed in the future. He said it would be the first time in a century that Pine Bluff would be without a functioning newspaper printing press.
Worthen said he hopes to remain active in journalism in Pine Bluff through a digital format. “It’s my hometown, and I want to see it grow and thrive. PB deserves a solid local news source. And that is no longer the PBC, unfortunately.”
A Helena source reports Sept. 6 is the closure date for the World. There’s an effort underway to put together a local purchasing group, but short notice of the sale has complicated the effort. A similar effort is afoot in Stuttgart.
The World had one full-time editorial employee, I’m told. Pine Bluff has three remaining after Worthen’s departure.
PS: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is moving steadily toward all-digital production, with the exception of a Sunday print edition. Only Pulaski County still gets a daily print newspaper among the 63 counties it serves (12 counties are served by the Northwest Arkansas version of the newspaper and they still get a daily print edition.) Several readers have reported receiving notices of an end to the daily print newspaper in Pulaski County in October, but a newspaper spokesman told us this week those notices were inserted in the Sunday newspaper in error. He still expects conversion to the digital dailly newspaper by the end of the year. The newspaper is providing iPads to subscribers to read the digital version.