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Amidst Newsroom Cuts, Democrat-Gazette Scales Back on Business SectionLock Icon

3 min read

You may have noticed that last Monday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette didn’t have a business section.

From now on, Monday will be a day off for the section, Publisher Walter Hussman Jr. says, and the Little Rock daily will save some money. Business news that needs to get into Monday’s paper will appear in other sections.

Hussman, chairman of the paper’s parent company, Wehco Media Inc., told Whispers that “very few newspapers nowadays” have Monday business sections, “and the main reason is that there is not usually much to report after two non-business days, Saturday and Sunday.”

He said that other papers had folded their business sections into other daily sections all days of the week, but the Democrat-Gazette plans “to continue to have a standalone business section the other six days of the week.”

The Monday section vanished less than a week after Rachel O’Neal handed off to a new business editor, Jim Kordsmeier, to take back her old job running the High Profile section. But David Bailey, the paper’s managing editor, said that O’Neal had suggested the Monday change.

“Before we moved Rachel O’Neal back to High Pro, she came to me and said we really should eliminate that,” Bailey explained, saying the Monday section had been filled with articles from news services and “once-in-a-while” local stories.

“We did save a lot of money by making the change, so it seemed like the smart thing to do,” Bailey said. “You know paper and people are the two biggest expenses that newspapers have, so I’m sure the savings is significant.”

(Never fear: Whispers is still here for you on Mondays.)

Job Cuts, Emerging Names
The paper announced the staffing moves for O’Neal and Kordsmeier in Sunday’s editions, but made no mention of the Monday business section plans. Kordsmeier’s old job, primarily editing the business wire reports, will be filled by copy desk veteran Paul Sawyer.

The paper’s copy and design desks are consolidating in conjunction with a round of job cuts Wehco announced last week. The desks were traditionally one unit until the 1990s, when advancing computer software made design a more technical specialty.

The paper’s Three Rivers edition and River Valley & Ozark edition are cutting back from twice a week to Sunday only, resulting in the loss of a reporter and photographer, according to zoned edition editor Jennifer Sue Everett-Ellis.

Names emerging in the layoffs include veterans of several decades, including Assistant Sports Editor Jeff Krupsaw, who was in that job for a quarter-century, and Doug Grimsley, who was a news editor and designer over three decades. Denise Dorton had a comparable tenure on the copy desk. Reporter Scott Carroll tweeted that Tuesday was his last day at the paper, and Kenneth Heard, the Jonesboro bureau reporter, was listed on the newspaper’s website as “not an active staff member.” Northwest Arkansas casualties were said to include Kent Marks and Mike Jones. Back in Little Rock, cartoonist John Deering and opinion editor Karen Martin were whispered to be shifting to part-time work.

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