Stephens-Owned News Bureau Lays Off 5

The Arkansas News Bureau on Friday laid off five employees, leaving one full-time reporter in its North Little Rock office, bureau chief Dennis Byrd said.

The bureau is part of Stephens Media, which is owned by Little Rock financier Warren Stephens and his cousins Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell.

The bureau covers Arkansas government, including the Legislature, for Stephens newspapers and a number of other papers throughout Arkansas.

"The industry is undergoing a lot of changes," said Byrd, who was among those laid off. "Newspaper companies everywhere are searching for new and innovative ways to survive, I guess. It's just one of those things."

Employees were told of the layoffs during a Friday morning meeting. In addition to Byrd, termination notices were given to sports columnist Harry King, news editor James Jefferson, reporter Rob Moritz and administrative assistant Katherine Satterfield.

Reporter John Lyon will be the only full-time employee at the news bureau. 

Mark Hinueber, general counsel for the Stephens Media, said another bureau employee, Robbie Neiswanger, will continue covering sports in northwest Arkansas. 

Moritz is married to Gwen Moritz, editor of Arkansas Business.

Stephens Media, which is headquartered in Las Vegas, named a new CEO, Ed Moss, in December. It owns newspapers in Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. It also has a bureau in Washington, D.C.

In Arkansas, the company owns 18 newspapers, including the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith and the Times of North Little Rock, as well newspapers formerly owned by Magie Enterprises.

Stephens Media is also part of a joint newspaper venture with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in northwest Arkansas called Northwest Arkansas Newspapers LLC. The deal, announced in 2009, ended the newspaper war between Stephens and Democrat-Gazette owner Walter Hussman.

(With reporting by Luke Jones.)

Warning: Unknown: write failed: No space left on device (28) in Unknown on line 0 Warning: Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct (/var/lib/php5) in Unknown on line 0