It hasn't exactly been front-page news, but the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith has emerged as the only GateHouse Media Inc. newspaper in Arkansas still printing seven days a week.
The Daily Siftings Herald in Arkadelphia? It went to a twice-a-week schedule last year, publishing on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Stuttgart Daily Leader? Not really daily since last week, when it went to a Tuesday and Friday schedule. Also last week, the Hope Star began publishing Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Newport Daily Independent is now just the Independent, printed weekly on Thursdays.
The Pine Bluff Commercial announced on May 25 that it would no longer print a Saturday edition. The rest of GateHouse's two dozen properties in the state were already weeklies, and the company, part of the publicly traded New Media Investment Group Inc., recently consolidated seven of its weeklies into two weekly publications in Pulaski and Lonoke counties.
The consolidations and curtailed printing schedules, as well as a decision to consolidate the printing of many of GateHouse's publications in Pine Bluff, reflect continuing pain in the newspaper industry.
"Every once in awhile, you have to take a step back and look at your business model and make tough decisions," said Ed Graves, GateHouse's group publisher in Arkansas, based in Pine Bluff.
GateHouse's largest investor, Fortress Investment Group LLC, was acquired in February by Softbank Group Corp. of Japan, and observers have speculated that the deal might put added pressure on the bottom line.
Interestingly, the Stuttgart and Arkadelphia papers remain "Daily" in name only. "We will not be taking the 'Daily' from our masthead," Stuttgart editor Leigh Hahn said in the paper's announcement last month. "We will continue to bring Arkansas County the latest breaking news from our area, better than any publication through our website, which we will spread through social media and other outlets."
On Tuesday, the Leader noted that it had printed its last paper in Stuttgart, shifting the job to Pine Bluff, and it offered a fond farewell to press supervisor Dudley Raper, who kept the presses rolling for 40 years.