News arrive today of a deal to purchase the Helena World, which owner GateHouse Media had planned to close at the end of this week.

It will be a weekly. At the end, the newspaper had essentially one full-time editorial employee. One of the buyers had told me last week of hopes to purchase the paper — slated for closure by GateHouse along with a newspaper in Stuttgart — before existing arrangements to publish local legal advertising expired. That’s a key part of newspaper revenue in small towns, one of the few remaining as the Internet has wrecked newspaper advertising nationwide. A group has also been exploring purchase of the Stuttgart newspaper.

The news release:

HELENA-WEST HELENA- Helena-West Helena residents Chuck Davis and Andrew Bagley have teamed up to purchase the Helena World and save it from extinction.

 

Davis and Bagley announced the purchase of the publication, which has published for 148 years, on Thursday. Terms of the purchase from Gatehouse Media were not disclosed. The sale is scheduled to
close on Monday. Davis will be the majority owner with Bagley holding a minority share of the new company, Helena World and Chronicle Company, LLC.

 

Davis’s experience includes a military career, work in the aviation industry, export-import interests, and a stint at the Small Business Administration, giving the new company a wide array of business acumen to draw upon. Davis said, “The Helena World has a strong history and continues to have potential to be a profitable enterprise with strong local management that cares about the community and is committed to the product. Andrew and I are committed to running an efficient organization and to bringing the
residents of Phillips County a quality journalism.” Davis was recently featured in the Helena World for his investment in downtown Helena, where he owns multiple properties, including his residence.

 

Bagley, who is a veteran Instructor of Political Science and History at Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas and a native of Phillips County, brings media experience to the ownership group,
having previously worked as the Associate Editor of the now defunct Phillips County Progress with the late D. L. Bailey and as a freelance writer for multiple publications, including the Helena World and the
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Bagley has also done some radio work and is currently a sports announcer at KFFA-AM. At The Progress, Bagley was a part of winning two awards from the Arkansas Press Association.

Bagley was excited about this endeavor saying, “The Helena World has a long history of great journalism, and we look forward to writing another chapter as stewards of this legacy. We are committed to this community and keeping the residents, who are our friends and neighbors, informed.
We live here every day and won’t be holed up in a corporate office looking at spreadsheets. We are going to be right here committed to top-notch reporting and to building our community.”

 

Davis and Bagley plan to change the publication schedule to weekly and utilize electronic options to supplement the print publication.

Speaking of GateHouse, has anybody noticed how little coverage it’s provided of a big story that should be in the wheelhouse of its newspaper in Fort Smith, once a robust and hard-hitting newspaper? I refer to the departure of a basketball player at UA Fort Smith who has alleged racial discrimination in disapproval of his dreadlocks hairstyle by the new coach. The story has had many twists and turns.  Whoever is telling the truth, it’s a cultural story with long legs, the kind of thing a local newspaper should be all over.

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