ArkansasBusiness.com: Democrat-Gazette, Stephens Employees Face ‘Uncertain’ Future

Rob Keys of Arkansas Business’ sister publication, the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, files a report today on ArkansasBusiness.com in the aftermath of yesterday’s joint venture announcement between the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Stephens Media in northwest Arkansas.

Not surprisingly, uncertainty appears to be a common theme among employees of both operations:

Said an employee of the Democrat-Gazette: “There’s a bunch of nervous people, a lot of uncertainty, and we supposedly won the [newspaper war].”

“I tried to wrap my head around it [Thursday], and I basically decided, ‘What can you do, but go back to work?’” a Stephens employee said. “I guess it’s good they’re at least trying this new business model.”

Keys also talks to Mark Fitzgerald, editor-at-large at trade journal Editor & Publisher, who thinks the Justice Department is likely to approve the proposal in October or November. And he thinks the arrangement will work, considering the tenacity and determination of the trade mag’s one-time Publisher of the Year, Walter Hussman.

The complete story is available here.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald files his own piece at E&P, where Hussman explains (again) how this venture won’t be a joint operating agreement and that he expects it to be a “permanent” deal:

The merger of the northwestern Arkansas newspapers published by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Stephens Media might look a little like a joint operating agreement (JOA), but there’s one big difference, says Walter Hussman: The merger is intended to be a “permanent solution” to the papers’ financial difficulties.

“In a JOA you have two corporations, and an agreement with a limited term that might be 100 years or 50 years,” Hussman, the owner of Democrat-Gazette parent Wehco Media, said in an interview Friday. “This is a corporation, and we each own 50% of it. A JOA is limited, this is a permanent solution.”

Fitzgerald’s full story is available here.

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