Whispers have been growing that the Log Cabin Democrat of Conway may be sold to Gatehouse Media Inc., which in recent years has snapped up Arkansas dailies like the Pine Bluff Commercial and Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith.
The potential sale also reportedly disrupted plans for a change in the publisher’s office at the Conway paper, which has been owned by Morris Communications Co. since 1995.
Harry Porter, publisher of the Daily Citizen in Searcy, was said to be ready to take over as publisher of the Log Cabin last week, and an all-staff meeting was scheduled for a “major announcement.” That meeting was postponed and has yet to be rescheduled, and word went around to employees at the Citizen that Porter had rescinded his two weeks’ notice and would be staying on at Searcy.
Reached Wednesday, Porter declined to comment, saying he would be “very uncomfortable” speaking either on or off the record. Officials at both Gatehouse and Morris did not return calls seeking comment.
Meanwhile, Log Cabin Democrat staffers have been asking around about what it’s like to work for Gatehouse, according to local journalists who have fielded the calls.
Cynthia Crabb, the Log Cabin’s interim publisher since Publisher Jeffrey Hartley departed in August, said the staff meeting in Conway was postponed because she was traveling and couldn’t attend.
She also said she couldn’t comment on any job talks with Porter. “I was not in those negotiations. All that was done through the corporate office.”
Crabb said that after hearing the sale rumors, she called the corporate headquarters and was told “we’re still under the Morris umbrella. We’re doing business as usual.”
On Thursday, she told us, “We still haven’t been sold; it’s just a rumor.”
The Log Cabin is the only Arkansas paper owned by Morris, based in Augusta, Georgia. Its other 10 daily papers include the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, the Topeka Capital-Journal in Kansas, the Savannah Morning News in Georgia and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and the Amarillo Globe News in Texas.