OU: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Stephens Northwest Merger Moving Forward

Christopher Spencer’s Ozarks Unbound reports that the merger between the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Stephens Media’s northwest Arkansas operations is moving forward, with newspaper employees interviewing for their old jobs this week:

Staff with The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Times and the Benton County Daily Record were told they must re-apply for their jobs with the soon-to-be-formed Northwest Arkansas Newspapers LLC company.

Rusty Turner and Lisa Thompson, editors from The Morning News were reportedly making the rounds this week among some Wehco properties to interview folks for the new company.

On their application, employees must list their top two positions in order of preference, but no one is saying just how many positions are actually going to exist in the new arrangement.

Spencer also raises doubts as to whether the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette will keep its Lowell office.


Spencer, of course, is a former Stephens Media employee. He was cut earlier this year from the staff of The Morning News, but has lived to fight another day having launched the online-only Ozarks Unbound about four months ago. He takes stock of his new venture, one of many online-only news sites springing up around Arkansas, here.

Implications, Random Thoughts on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephens Media Joint Venture

Warren Stephens, left, co-owner of Stephens Meda, and Walter Hussman, owner of the Democrat-Gazette.

Warren Stephens, left, co-owner of Stephens Media, and Walter Hussman, owner of the Democrat-Gazette.

The plan for a joint venture announced today between the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Stephens Media in northwest Arkansas raises all kinds of questions, many of which we hope to answer in our continuing coverage this afternoon on ArkansasBusiness.com.

Among the many points to ponder should the joint venture deal go through:

Staffing: What does this portend for employees of both companies in northwest Arkansas? While no one’s said it, there will almost certainly be job losses, as the new LLC eliminates redundancies on its editorial, business and printing staffs. How will newspaper staffs change?

Labor Market: The upheaval will only add to the media talent on the job market in Arkansas. Assuming they’re adequately positioned, how will other media companies — including online ventures like the Fayetteville Flyer, Michael Tilley’s City Wire, Ozarks Unbound and others — capitalize?

Online News: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Publisher Walter Hussman famously advocates locking down content from his daily newspapers online. Stephens Media will begin testing a locked down model in Pine Bluff. What happens with the LLC’s online news sites in northwest Arkansas? Competing online news providers who offer free online content in the region will be intensely interested in those plans.

The Individual Newspapers: Hussman says all the newspapers in the area will remain separate entities, with the Democrat-Gazette included in editions of The Morning News. That style of “wrapped” editions comes from the Democrat-Gazette’s previous partnership in the region with Walton-owned Community Publishers Inc. (which eventually led to Hussman’s company buying several CPI papers in the region and leaving Stephens as its only other major regional competition).

How long will the LLC maintain those separate titles? No doubt brands like The Morning News, the Northwest Arkansas Times and the Daily Record are important to readers and advertisers, but in this media environment, why bear the additional expense of maintaining them?

Finally: What do you think of the deal? Any perspective from northwest Arkansas readers, advertisers and media folk would be much appreciated. Share your thoughts and commentary in comments.

Talking Twitter Tuesday on ‘Today’s THV This Morning’

All a Twitter

All a-Twitter

Tired of Twitter yet? Possibly! But the little microblogging service that could is still generating plenty of buzz — some of it not from bored news editors but people legitimately curious about the service and how it might help their business.

At about 6:20 6:40 a.m.-ish on Tuesday, I’ll give a quick primer on Twitter on “Today’s THV This Morning” and, time permitting, how some Arkansas businesses and other organizations are using the service (which we’ve touched on before on this blog and on the radio). Are you suffering from social media fatique and wondering whether Twitter is for you? Hopefully, we can help you answer that question, as well.

Meanwhile, remember you can follow me @LT and Arkansas Business @ArkBusiness. And be sure to sign up with the THV Morning Crew:

@MatthewGCarroll, producer

@BeccaBuerkle, producer

@AlysonCourtney, anchor

@CCrowson016, reporter/anchor

@todaysthv, news


Corporate Blogs and Tweets Must Keep SEC in Mind – WSJ

Oprah and Ashton Will Destroy Twitter – PC Magazine

Numbers Can’t Begin to Describe Twitter’s Impact – Wired

Twitter me this: Wake up and get the Tweets, alderman says – Northwest Arkansas Times

Twitter marketing tips – DoshDosh

Social media: $3.1 billion industry in five years? – eBiz

Wehco’s Times Free Press Newspaper A Flagrant Twitterer

The Chattanooga Times Free Press, a sister newspaper to the Wehco-owned Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, already has more open Web site than its Arkansas relative. And now we’ve discovered the Chattanooga newspaper is an outright Twitterer as well!

You can track the Times Free Press’ growing trail of updates via @timesfreepress, where they flagrantly distribute news links every half hour or so. They even tip off readers to possible layoffs at their own newspaper!

Will the DG ever get all Twittery here in Arkansas? It already has: Hog fans can get sports news articles and blog content via @wholehogsports, and the Northwest Arkansas Times, also owned by Wehco, Twitters news updates via @nwarktimes.

Meanwhile, Conan Gallaty, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s new online director, hints to us that there’s more Democrat-Gazette Twittering to come. While there’s nothing specific yet, Gallaty says the paper has some “really great voices,” and it won’t be long before you and I can follow their tweets.

We’ll let you know when the state’ largest daily adds more of its own to the Arkansas Twittersphere.


More newspaper pain – layoffs in Chattanooga? [Arkansas Times]

#Tweetjuror: An Update

All you Ari Golds can just stop calling

All you Ari Golds can just stop calling

A quick update to last week’s item on #tweetjuror Johnathan Powell. Plaintiffs in the court case for which Powell served as a juror have filed their response to a motion for a new trial. This, after the defendants in the case said Powell’s tweets showed he was not a fair or impartial juror.

In their response, filed Wednesday, plaintiffs said Powell’s Twittering didn’t break rules or affect the outcome of the case.

From the Morning News, which first broke the Powell story:

Greg Brown, an attorney for one of the men who won the case, said Wright offers no proof that Powell was a bad juror. Brown also calls into question the accuracy of the time stamp on the messages.

The time stamps do not match events during the case, and appear to be sent two hours earlier than they were, Brown said. That means that one message where Powell said negative things about the defendant occurred after the case was over.

The Northwest Arkansas Times also writes about the response here.

Powell’s case has earned him all kinds of media attention, locally and nationally. He even got a mention in the New York Times, which wondered whether the Googles, iPhones and Blackberries are killing the judicial system. Conclusion? Maybe!

Meanwhile, Powell’s been racking up the followers (now at more than 250) and apparently keeping a clear head about his 15 minutes.

More on the Expanding Arkansas Twittersphere

If it’s one thing the media (and bloggers) love talking about it, it’s Twitter! None of us can resist spilling hundred of words at a time on a 140-character free service that makes no money and almost no one uses! Well, no one outside the hyper-communicative, anyway.

Add our Arkansas Business sister publication, the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, to those encircling the microblogging phenom, focusing on the growth of the service (Pew numbers) and a prominent NW Tweeter, Elise Mitchell, who we follow on Twitter here and who in her spare time runs Mitchell Communications Group of Fayetteville:

Despite its sophomoric moniker, Twitter is really a business tool, she said, which can be used to build a community around shared interests. The hook? Twitter’s microblogs, called tweets, limit you to 140 characters, so you’ve got to be succinct.

A recent post on Mitchell’s page read: “Looking for ways to measure ROI for businesses of social media participation? Great blog post: http://tinyurl.com/btel7q.”

“I assure you, you will get more out of it than you ever put into it,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s not the only one in her shop who’s Twittering, as you can tell by the company blog. Meanwhile, we’ll note some new additions to the Arkansas Twittersphere, and you can see my Unofficial Official Arkansas Twitter Directory for more.

John Brummett: He started this month, but I only caught up with him a week or two ago. Be patient. He’s not quite figured out linking, and sometimes he refers to Web sites without naming them!

Bud Jackson: Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s lottery henchman and political gun for hire. But: Intrigue! He might not let you follow him! So far, we’re lucky.

Robert Herzfeld: The Saline Couty Circuit Judge is getting his feet wet, holding forth on “Lost.” Just what is the deal with that crazy island?

Skip Rutherford: Chief Friend of Bill and Think Tank Dad is musing on the city’s best desserts, some political matters and goings-on at the Clinton School of Public Service, where’s he’s Dean.

The Northwest Arkansas Times: The formerly independent newspaper has been under Walter Hussman’s thumb for years now, but that hasn’t stopped them from Twittering! See also: WholeHogSports.

Mark Martin: The Republican state rep has been getting hammered by Maximus for his bad spelling (glass houses …) but keeps on keeping-on.

Steve Arrison: Presumably the same Arrison at the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, but sadly no updates yet — unless we’ve been blocked. Horror!

KNWA: The Nexstar-owned Northwest Arkansas TV operation has two flavors so far, KNWAWeekends and KNWAFOXDirector (Bruce Thomas). One is more active than the other.

Dana Sargent: TV anchor at another Northwest Arkansas TV station. It’s okay if you’re impressed.