Warren Stephens Talks Newspapers

In a recent interview with Arkansas Business Editor Gwen Moritz, Warren Stephens, CEO of Stephens Inc., touched on his continuing interest in the newspaper industry, as evidenced by his investment in Halifax Media last January.

Also, Stephens and his cousins, Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell, together own Stephens Media of Las Vegas.

"I'm a believer that local news, news that you aren't going to find anywhere else, be it in Arkansas Business or be it in your local newspaper, is going to be of value to people and therefore of value to advertisers.

"It may not be in the same [profit] relationship that it always has been, but you are just not going to find the stories that are of interest to you locally, businesswise, politically, civically - what's going on the community - you're just not going to be plugged in without a newspaper."

He said he believes in the future value of professionally written and edited journalism, in contrast to the proliferation of online bloggers. "It's not always right, and there are always errors made, but you are trying to get it right, and that's not the case in today's electronic media."

"It is a tough business, no doubt about it," he said, and the days of easy profits are "way over."

But he believes the news industry can claw back revenue by reversing the business decision to make content available online for free.

Stephens particularly praised  Walter Hussman, owner and publisher of  the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, for doing "a magnificent job of resisting that. And whoever convinced the newspaper industry to give away all their news - where were the adults in the room?"