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Guest Column:

In a buyer’s market for weeklies, where are the buyers? By Al Cross


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Publisher Weekly


Vol. 14 | No. 40 | Thursday, October 3, 2019

Serving Press and State Since 1873

Montgomery County editor takes over as owner and publisher of the newspaper since 2013. Before that, he was sports editor for the Nashville News. Gail Holloway works at the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce. She has pitched in to help get out the first edition under the Holloways’ ownership and will eventually work full-time to handle business operations and advertising sales.

When the Rev. Dewayne Holloway started in the newspaper business 11 years ago, he wasn’t too worried about the transition. “It’s kind of like preaching,” he said. “You gather information. You present it to the public. You let them make their minds up about it. That’s the approach I’ve taken to the newspaper industry.” It’s an approach Holloway will continue to use now that he and his wife, Gail Pitts-Holloway, are newspaper owners and publishers. The Holloways recently purchased the Montgomery County News in Mount Ida from John Robert Schirmer. The sale was finalized last week.

“We’re excited about growing the newspaper in the community,” Dewayne Holloway said. “I believe that, especially in small communities like ours, the newspaper reads the heartbeat of the county. We hope that people will come to us for their news, and we’re working hard.”

Dewayne Holloway is pastor of the Caddo Gap Baptist Church. He has lived in Montgomery County and worked as editor

The acquisition is unlike several recent newspaper transactions in the state. The Montgomery County News wasn’t

Dewayne Holloway with his wife Gail PittsHolloway in front of the Montgomery County News.

Continued on Page 2

National Newspaper Week will be observed next week Arkansas Press Association Executive Director Ashley Wimberley encourages member newspapers to share opinion columns, editorials and promotional advertisements next week in observance of National Newspaper Week, observed this year from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12. “Within the industry, we recognize how important our community newspapers are to the fabric of our democracy, and we sometimes take for granted that’s enough,” Wimberley said. “However, it’s more important now than ever to reinforce to our readers what it means to be a great newspaper and how our communities need quality news coverage and advertising.” National Newspaper Week is in its 79th

year. This year’s theme is “Think F1rst: Know your 5 Freedoms,” highlighting the significance of the five rights established in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Freedom of the Press is one of those core five tenets. Organizers of the annual event have provided resources, including columns, editorial cartoons, and house ads, available to use free of charge on the National Newspaper Week website, www. nationalnewspaperweek.com. All house ads are available from a Dropbox folder accessible from the website. The prebuilt ads feature five different themes in seven different sizes. Newspapers are asked to celebrate

National Newspaper Week by “devoting as many column inches as possible” to the week’s theme and to generate local content by editorializing about the specific and unique relevance a newspaper has within its community. National Newspaper Week is sponsored annually by Newspaper Association Managers (NAM).

Montgomery County editor takes over as owner and publisher Continued from Page 1

in jeopardy of closing, nor was Schirmer actively pursuing a sale, according to Holloway.

County residents are retirees relocating to the scenic southwest Arkansas area, they might grow to expect those types of features, Dewayne Holloway said.

“We just decided we really wanted to own the paper instead of just working for one,” Dewayne Holloway said. “Just, as time has gone by, we had gotten to the point that we thought it would be nice to have our own paper.”

He hopes to boost his advertising base to support the added features, and is optimistic that circulation numbers will remain strong. The median age for Montgomery County residents is 50, and because older adults tend to be more active newspaper readers, he believes advertisers will see benefits from the product.

He noted that the Montgomery County News had been owned by out-of-county interests since the 1980s, first by Graves Publishing in Nashville and later by Schirmer, who is also based in Nashville. The Holloway’s purchase returns the newspaper to Montgomery County-based ownership, and it also opens the door for them to create a new website focused specifically on Montgomery County news. “(Montgomery County) kind of got lost in the shuffle on the other website,” which was previously shared by several newspapers in the region, Holloway said. “This will make us the only legitimate news source focused on the county that’s online.”

Little River News hires two staffers

The Little River News in Ashdown has named two new employees.

Jessie Smith is the newspaper’s new city editor. Smith is a Little River County native who graduated from Foreman High School in 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree from Harding University and was the news section editor for Harding’s newspaper, The Bison.

The Holloways are excited to launch a Montgomery Countyfocused news website for the newspaper.

The new web address for the publication is mcnews.online. The Holloways are eager to bring some new features to the newspaper, including crossword puzzles, recipe pages and other items readers of larger newspapers might appreciate. Since many Montgomery

The community at large will continue to benefit as well, he added.

“What we want to focus on is community news,” Dewayne Holloway said. “That’s been our bread and butter for years and we don’t want to change that. We just want the community to know we want to put a positive face on the community, but we’re also here to shine a light on the things that need to be known as well.”

mark your calendar March 12 & 13, 2020 APA Advertising Conference Winthrop Rockefeller Institute Petit Jean Mountain

Joe Capraro, a California-based graphic designer, will do page design and graphics production for the newspaper. Capraro is a graduate of Texas State University and he has been senior art director for Kiner Communications and FG Creative. He was creative director at Cord Media Co. As a freelance graphic designer, he has worked for clients such as Mattel, Walmart and others. Arkansas Publisher Weekly


October 3, 2019

-30George Henson Wells, a longtime reporter and editor at the Arkansas Gazette and the Pine Bluff Commercial, has died. He was 81. Wells attended Ouachita Baptist University, where he was editor George Henson Wells of the college’s newspaper, The Signal, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri. While in Missouri, he was an editor at the university’s daily newspaper. After college, he worked as a copy editor at the Gazette, was in the Army for two years, and then was a reporter at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. He returned to Arkansas after that to serve as a city editor and reporter at the

Industry Quote of the Week “I tell you, in my opinion, the cornerstone of democracy is free press that’s the cornerstone.”

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Commercial. He later returned to the Gazette to report on the federal judiciary and federal agencies. His coverage of the case McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1982. After the Gazette closed, Wells worked for The Daily Record before retiring. He is survived by his wife, Kathy Gosnell Wells. He was a member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock. Billy Moore, 79, of Rogers, died on Sept. 14. A native of Van Buren, Moore was a newspaper i n d u s t r y veteran who moved around to different

Billy Moore

locations with the Donrey Media Group, culminating with him as President and General Manager of the Rogers Daily News. In the early 1970s he was recruited by Sam Walton to establish a publishing company in Bentonville to take over the printing requirement of the growing Walmart corporation. He also ran the weekly Benton County newspaper and, in time, converted it to a daily publication, The Benton County Daily Record. He led and expanded the Benton County Publishing Company and the Record for 20 years. In addition to his newspaper career, Moore had several other business ventures and was an early investor in the Northwest Arkansas real estate market. He served in the Arkansas Air National Guard and was president of the Bentonville Chamber of Commerce. He is survived by his wife, Wanda Moore; two sons, Army Lt. Col. Lyndell Moore (Ret.) and Dr. Kent Moore; a brother; and five grandchildren. His funeral was held Sept. 18 at Fellowship Bible Church in Rogers. Burial was at Rogers Cemetery.

Feds raise overtime salary threshold In a decision announced last month, the U.S. Department of Labor said the annual salary threshold for exempt employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act is increasing from $23,660 to $35,568 on Jan. 1, 2020. According to the National Newspaper Association, the decision “officially killed” a rule moving the minimum threshold to $47,476. That rule was first blocked by the courts then by President Trump’s administration. In an NNA news release, the group said the Labor Department considered a request from NNA, the YMCA, grocers and others to phase in the increase, but that larger employers successfully lobbied for a one-time adjustment. The Labor Department noted, though, that it was scrapping a plan to revisit the threshold every four years. Instead, it said, reviews should be dictated by economic conditions, NNA said. “NNA had concerns and still has concerns that many of our newspapers in economically-distressed areas are going to find this new threshold impossible to meet,” NNA President Andrew Johnson 3

said in a statement. “They will have no choice but to reduce staff and knock some full-time jobs back to part-time. That inevitable consequence will hurt news coverage in those areas. We urged a phased-in threshold to help protect those jobs, but although our concerns were heard, the Department decided to recognize them in other ways. At the same time, this threshold has not been revisited since 2004. We acknowledged it was time for an adjustment. And we are immensely relieved that the old proposal to double the salary base in one gigantic leap, which really would have been a job killer, is now officially dead.” Johnson, publisher of the Dodge County Pionier in Mayville, Wisconsin, added: “In light of the effect of this decision upon some of our smaller newspapers we expect more salaried part-time jobs to be created in the industry. Employers are specifically instructed in this new rule that salaries for part-timers are a recognized way to meet fluctuating work-week needs in businesses. NNA appreciates the Department’s clearer guidance in helping our members comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act.” October 3, 2019

Support the future of Arkansas journalism by giving to the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation. Your generous donations will ensure the continued funding for the next generation of Arkansas journalists. Ways to give: Estate planning, memorial and honor gifts and charitable donations. The Arkansas Newspaper Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information call APA at 501-374-1500 or email info@arkansaspress.org

Guest Column:

In a buyer’s market for weeklies, where are the buyers? By Al Cross Most days this summer, I have written a story about goings-on in Midway, a small Kentucky town where my students and I publish the Midway Messenger. When students aren’t around, I pick up the slack, but it’s a labor of love to provide coverage for a proud community that once had a paper of its own and has adopted ours, even though after 11 years I’m still something of a parachute publisher. I’ve been in the newspaper business most of my life, but never as an owner, and our mainly online, non-commercial enterprise is as close as I am likely to get. But there are plenty of opportunities out there. “It’s a buyer’s market right now for weekly newspapers,” former weekly publisher Gary Sosniecki writes. You might have chuckled at the “buyer’s market” line, since all the bad news about metropolitan newspapers may lead you to think that a newspaper is no longer a good investment. That’s not true of most community newspapers, because they are the sole, reliable source of news about their communities, and most of them “are doing fine financially,” says Kevin Slimp, the leading consultant to community papers. “In areas where decreased population, diminished area businesses and other forces beyond our control are at work, it might not be viable to sustain a local newspaper,” Slimp acknowledges. “Having said that, I’ve worked with many newspapers in the past year in towns with fewer than 600 residents who are finding ways to be successful.” Gary and Helen Sosniecki found success with weeklies in three Midwest towns, the first with only 900 people. “If the population is stable, if most storefronts on Main Street are filled, if the town has its own school and the all-important sense of community, the prospects for a weekly newspaper succeeding long-term are good,” he writes. But this is a buyer’s market with not Arkansas Publisher Weekly

enough buyers. When the West Virginia Press Association voiced concern that some newspapers in the state might close because their owners couldn’t find buyers, Maryanne Reed, then dean of the West Virginia University College of Media and now the university provost, got some foundation money and started a program called NewStart to develop the next generation of community newspaper owners. The program’s director, Jim Iovino, has written about the success that Michael E. Sprengelmeyer found in a New Mexico weekly, the Guadalupe County Communicator, after the closing of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, where he was a political correspondent and had the byline M.E. Sprengelmeyer. Jim Iovino says his first group of fellows in the program are expected to start in June 2020. That will be none too soon for the Texas Press Association, which has seen a rash of closures and mergers, and hears talk of more. As in West Virginia, buyers are hard to find. We suspect it’s much the same in most of the country. “Many owners of our generation waited too long to sell and – unable to find buyers – are shutting down their papers,” Gary Sosniecki writes. Those of us in this informal group see at least two potential groups of buyers who need to be recruited: local business people who never thought about becoming publishers, but know their communities and the value of a newspaper, and know how to make a profit; and the thousands of journalists who have been laid off by metro newspapers. “It’s a conundrum that independently owned weekly newspapers are closing for lack of buyers at the same time that journalists who would make good weeklynewspaper owners are being laid off in record numbers by metro newspapers and national newspaper groups,” Gary writes. “The challenge for our industry is to convince these unemployed journalists 5

to explore the joys and rewards of owning a small-town newspaper.” Helen Sosniecki gets down to the nittygritty of that, giving advice on how to go about buying a newspaper and testifying about the experience. “It won’t be all fun and games,” she says. “The hours are long. The financial payback may be less than your corporate salary. But the rewards in your accomplishments as a community newspaper owner can overshadow those drawbacks…You live there. You chronicle the town’s history. But you’re also one of them. It’s your town, too. It will fill you with pride when the school basketball team wins that first state championship. It will bring you to tears when you and your neighbors bury that young volunteer fireman with the pregnant wife who died along with another volunteer on the way to a brush fire. It will be your job, your business and your life – and you’ll likely love it more than anything you’ve ever done.” Kevin Slimp and I agree that the keys to success as a community newspaper publisher are the right market, the right management and the right content. “Job number one is to put out a good product,” he told The Washington Post recently. He told me in an email, “It’s time we began to focus on publishing the best newspapers we can.” There are thousands of Americans who could put out a good newspaper. They need to give themselves the chance. We’re here to give advice if you need it. Al Cross edited and managed weekly newspapers before working 26 years for the Louisville Courier Journal and serving as president of the Society of Professional Journalists. For 15 years, he has directed the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, where he is professor of journalism. October 3, 2019

ArkLaMiss CIRCULATION & MARKETING CONFERENCE Circulation & Audience Growth

ArkLaMiss Circulation & Marketing Conference

2019 Conference Agenda Nov. 7-8, 2019 | Vicksburg, Mississippi

Arkansas Publisher Weekly


September 19, 2019

ArkLaMiss Circulation & Marketing Conference

ArkLaMiss CIRCULATION & MARKETING CONFERENCE Circulation & Audience Growth

2019 Conference Agenda Thursday, November 7, 2019 8:30 AM 9:00 AM

Registration opens Publishers Roundtable Discussions Tips on newspaper management, revenue, expense controls, marketing & more

NOON 1:00 PM 1:15 PM

Lunch available in Heritage Buffet Welcome & opening remarks General Session: How to understand reader types and drive each type to subscribe

2:30 PM 3:00 PM

Break with Schermerhorn Bros. Co. General Session cont’d.: How to understand reader types and drive each type to subscribe

4:30 PM 5:30 PM 6:30 PM

Presented by Gwen Vargo, Director of Reader Revenue, American Press Institute The path from a casual reader to a paying subscriber isn’t a short one, but by understanding how audiences get from one place to another, you can begin to devise strategies to get more readers to complete that journey.

Presented by Gwen Vargo, Director of Reader Revenue, American Press Institute

Break for hotel check-ins Hospitality Hour with vendors Dinner on your own

Friday, November 8, 2019 8:00 AM 8:30 AM

Buffet breakfast Hot Ideas Exchange

9:30 AM 10:00 AM

Break Panel Discussion

11:00 AM

Open Mic & Wrap-up

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

Share your best ideas for success on revenue generation, expense controls, promotions marketing & more.

Hear cutting edge advice from marketing circulation & audience development directors from newpapers in Arkansas & Mississippi.


September 19, 2019

ArkLaMiss Circulation & Marketing Conference

ArkLaMiss CIRCULATION & MARKETING CONFERENCE Circulation & Audience Growth

Guest Speakers Gwen Vargo Gwen Vargo is Director of Reader Revenue for American Press Institute (API), where she works to support and accelerate the growth of subscriptions and user revenue at U.S. news organizations. She works directly with API’s partner news organizations to understand the path audiences take to subscription; gathers and spreads best practices; leads research efforts; and helps API’s partners develop innovative approaches to generating subscriptions through understanding audience data, marketing, communication, and content. Gwen specializes in helping media companies develop new models for user revenue, drawing on lessons she has learned over more than 25 years in audience development and marketing. Prior to API, she was at The Chronicle of Higher Education where she led cross functional team that included marketing, sales, circulation and market research and worked to develop sustainable revenue models for an array of digital products, including webinars, customized data, and events. While at Atlantic Media Company, Gwen oversaw marketing, sales, and client services for National Journal Group, and played a key leadership role in the strategic relaunch of the National Journal Group’s products and website. Previously, she managed marketing and operations efforts at organizations such as Euromoney Institutional Investor, PRIMEDIA, and American Lawyer Media.

Dennis Dunn Dennis Dunn is vice president of operations at the Anniston (AL) Star. He has been at The Star since 1997. He is responsible for printing, packaging and circulation for the Star, the Talladega Daily Home, the Cleburne News, the St. Clair Times and the the News Journal. He is a past president of the Southern Circulation Managers Association (2005). He began his career in 1979 at the Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer before moving to Anniston. Dennis has been involved in the Anniston Lions Clubs, the Anniston Runners Club, The Boys and Girls Clubs and the Opportunity Center. He is a graduate of Auburn University (1978). He is married to Debra and they have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Arkansas Publisher Weekly


September 19, 2019




Circulation & Marketing Conference

Circulation & Audience Growth


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Deadline to Register: November 1, 2019 Return Form and Payment to: ArkLaMiss/APA, 411 S. Victory, Little Rock, AR 72201 or fax to (501) 374-7509 Questions? Call Terri Cobb at (501) 374-1500, 1-800-569-8762 or email to terri@arkansaspress.org

Ameristar Casion & Hotel, Vicksburg MS Call 601-638-1000 and Reference “SPAPER9” | Room Rate $74 Deadline: October 24, 2019

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: October 3, 2019  

The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late-breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: October 3, 2019  

The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late-breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...