Michael Tilley’s City Wire has details on the board that will control Northwest Arkansas Newspapers LLC, saying that the Stephens Media gets 2 seats on a five seat board, which of course means, “Walter wins!” Also: The deal is finalized in October, and “‘radical downsizing’ of staff to take place early next year. Gulp. (Update here!)
KUAR’s Kelly MacNeil has audio of her interview with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Walter Hussman, who talks about the joint operation. He notes that only the Democrat-Gazette will have “the primary responsibility” of covering the Razorbacks, which of source means, “Walter wins!” (Update here!)
Max Brantley thinks back to just a few short years ago, when Stephens Media was set to take control of 75 percent of the daily newspaper market in northwest Arkansas. Since then, the Democrat-Gazette has bought newspapers owned by the Walton family and expanded his zoned edition of the DG. And now, his joint venture will control 100 percent of the daily newspaper market, which of course means — well, you know what it means.
Here’s our August 2000 Arkansas Business cover story on Hussman’s previous newspaper “alliance” in northwest Arkansas, that time with Walton family-owned Community Publishers Inc. As is the case now, Hussman’s 2000 partnership was most emphatically NOT a joint-operating-agreement, nor was it an acquisition (although Hussman later exercised his option to buy CPI newspapers in the region), despite opinions to the contrary by Stephens Media’s Sherman Frederick, who said at the time that the deal “smells more like an acquisition.” So what does this deal smell like?
The Arkansas Times has more clues as to how the new entity will shake out, along with word that Morning News employees will have to reapply for their jobs. Also included: some comments, reactions from news staffers.
Bill Bowden of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports Hussman saying he hopes the merger would be a “very long-term and permanent situation.”
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