UPDATED, CORRECTED: Stephens Media Laying Off Half of Reporting Staff for Central Arkansas Weeklies

Four journalists will be losing their jobs writing for the central Arkansas newspapers owned by Stephens Media of Las Vegas, reducing by half the number of staff writers for seven weekly papers, General Manager Emily Billings confirmed to ArkansasBusiness.com.

The journalists being laid off three weeks hence are Mike Dougherty, managing editor of all seven papers, and Jeff Reed, sports editor for the four Pulaski County papers; and reporters Priscilla Campbell and Allison Goodman.

(The original version of this story incorrectly reported that reporter Ed Galucki was among those who will lose their jobs.)

The newspapers are:

  • The Times of North Little Rock, the Sherwood Voice and the Jacksonville Patriot, which will be staffed by Greg Rayburn;
  • The Maumelle Monitor, which will be staffed by Bill Lawson; and
  • The Cabot Star-Herald, Lonoke Democrat and Carlisle Independent, where Mark Buffalo will be editor and Galucki will be assistant editor.

The editorial staffs are being restructured both to improve the newspapers' financial positions and to allow "people in the communities to have more input" into the content of the newspapers, according to Billings. She confirmed that the new structure will depend on "quite a significant amount of community-provided content."

Publishing seven weekly editions with only four editorial staffers "does seem like a daunting task, but I'm actually very excited about the opportunity this presents to us," Billings said. "I'm very pleased with the people we have on board as our editors. I'm very confident in their ability."

A similar approach has been successful at two other Stephens Media weeklies that are part of the company's central Arkansas newspaper group: the Van Buren County Democrat at Clinton, which has only one editorial employee, and the Hot Springs Village Voice.

"If you look at our Van Buren [County] paper, that will give you a pretty good idea of where we're headed," Billings said.

Billings became general manager of Stephens Media's central Arkansas newspapers at the beginning of this year. She previously worked for Stephens Media in Las Vegas and Ontario, Calif.

Stephens purchased some of the newspapers in 2006 from the Magie family. It purchased the Maumelle and North Little Rock papers from the Chisms in 2005.

When Kitty Chism was co-owner and editor of the North Little Rock and Maumelle papers, there were four full-time reporters in North Little Rock and two in Maumelle. Sports coverage was primarily assigned to paid freelancers.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Distributes Stephens Media Newspapers

Stephens Media Rearranges Staff