Publisher Ed Graves Leaves Pine Bluff Commercial

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jul. 17, 2017 12:00 am   2 min read

Ed Graves

Was it a case of “I’ll do this for a year, but …”?

Ed Graves, hailed as the first black publisher of an Arkansas daily newspaper, is apparently leaving the Pine Bluff Commercial just shy of 12 months after taking over the paper as GateHouse Media Inc.’s group publisher overseeing more than a dozen properties.

Graves, who replaced Byron Tate as publisher in July 2016, was identified by the Arkansas Press Association as the first African-American publisher of a state daily newspaper, though black publishers have served several weekly publications.

Current and former Commercial employees were whispering last week that Graves’ last day was to be Friday, and that his replacement, a woman, had been chosen. She hadn’t yet given notice to her current employer, delaying any announcement, the talk went.

There was no word on a destination for Graves, a former USA Weekend executive and graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, and several calls to the Commercial for comment brought no response. An employee who answered the newsroom phone line on Thursday would neither confirm nor deny reports on the change. Managing Editor John Worthen, reached by email, said he could say nothing, but a source close to the paper said several managers were told of the plan in a meeting on Wednesday.

Publicly traded GateHouse, headquartered in suburban Rochester, New York, owns the Southwest Times Record of Fort Smith, the Siftings Herald in Arkadelphia, the Hope Star and the Stuttgart Daily Leader, among other smaller Arkansas papers. With 656 publications in 36 states, it is the nation’s largest newspaper chain by sheer number of properties.

Under Graves’ leadership, the Siftings Herald, the Leader and the Star have cut publication to two days a week, and the Commercial itself cut out its Saturday edition in May. “Every once in awhile, you have to take a step back and look at your business model and make tough decisions,” Graves said at the time.

When GateHouse’s largest investor, Fortress Investment Group LLC, was acquired early this year by Softbank Group Corp. of Japan, observers predicted pressure on the bottom line.



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