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Stephens Media Confirms Layoffs at Times Record

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Fort Smith’s Southwest Times Record is the latest Stephens Media-owned publication to experience layoffs due to budget cuts.

Publisher Tom Stallbaumer on Thursday confirmed that there were five layoffs this week, adding that he “can’t really get into a ton of specifics.”

“We’ve got some expense goals that we’re working to meet, revenue goals that we’re working to meet,” he said. “We’re constantly looking at how we’re structured and can operate more efficiently.”

The layoffs aren’t the first the paper has made this year: Stallbaumer said “there’s been one here, one there, I’d say, over the last few months,” all part of looking for “ways to streamline the operations.”

Stallbaumer said he hopes there won’t be any more cuts at the newspaper, which employs about 115 people.

“We’re working on this from both directions — we’re working from the expense side and working hard to generate additional revenue,” he said. “We’ve seen some pretty good trends on the revenue side … and that takes a lot of pressures off on the expense side. We’re hopeful that we’re not in a position where we have to do more of this.”

Stephens Media is owned by Little Rock financier Warren Stephens and his cousins Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell.

The Fort Smith layoffs followed two recent rounds of layoffs at Stephens Media properties in central Arkansas. At the end of February, Stephens shut down its Arkansas News Bureau, laying off five people and retaining only two journalists to cover state government and the Razorbacks.

Then earlier this month, three reporters and three other employees were laid off from Stephens’ local newspapers in central Arkansas, leaving only two journalists to create news content for weekly papers in North Little Rock, Maumelle, Sherwood, Cabot, Lonoke and Carlisle.

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 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.

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