Stephens' Arkansas Newspapers Paring Staff

The cuts being made by many media companies are now hitting Arkansas. The central Arkansas office of Stephens Media Group of Las Vegas laid off two employees last week.

At the central Arkansas location, a business reporter and receptionist were let go, Jason Wiest, the reporter confirmed. Stephens also is also trimming its Washington News Bureau from three employees to one. The staffing change at the bureau will become official after this week, a reporter at the Washington Bureau confirmed.

The cuts follow much deeper ones made by Stephens Media's flagship paper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The Las Vegas paper is buying out between 50 and 100 of its employees, according to a Las Vegas Sun story. Investment firm Stephens Inc. of Little Rock owns Stephens Media.

Stephens Media owns 23 dailies and weeklies in the state. The central Arkansas office is home to seven weekly papers and the Arkansas News Bureau, which provides news for all of Stephens Media's Arkansas newspapers. Stephens Media also owns the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, The Morning News of Springdale and the Pine Bluff Commercial.

In a recent Arkansas Business story, Frederick said the company was in good financial standing. He also said he did not expect the company's papers to cut staff, though he expected newspapers to languish though 2009 and possibly 2010.

The company also had an interest in purchasing new newspapers in the Natural State, Frederick said.

"We feel that we are positioned as well as any newspaper company in Arkansas," Frederick said during an interview for the Aug. 11 story. "We feel that no matter what happens with the industry, we are in a good place."

The Review-Journal has felt the economic downturn greater than others, however. The Las Vegas real estate market has been among those hit hardest during the housing crisis.

Frederick and other officials at Stephens Media's headquarters did not return calls requesting comment.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette announced in August that it was imposing a hiring and salary freeze.