Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Thursday, October 29, 2009

News about News in Northwest Arkansas

I suppose it was inevitable, but the merger of the two major newspapers in Northwest Arkansas has saddened me. Readers and advertisers alike will no longer have a choice of newspapers. Competition is virtually good – keeps everyone on their toes and helps keep prices down.

The merger includes the Northwest Arkansas Times in Fayetteville, Benton County Daily Record in Bentonville, Morning News in Springdale plus several weekly or twice-weekly newspapers, a Spanish language weekly and a monthly magazine devoted to Arkansas Razorbacks athletics.

Another sad result of the merger is the loss of jobs. More than 500 people are employed either full- or part-time by both newspapers. At this point, no one is sure how many will still have a job when the dust settles.

I’m surprised this is all taking taking place so rapidly – Sunday, November 1. The proposed merger was announced less than two months ago (September 3, 2009). Seems like a huge effort and yet the pieces fell into place as soon as the U.S. Department of Justice concluded the proposed merger would not create any antitrust violations. The Justice Dept. used to feel differently about these things but faced with the reality that newspapers have suffered huge losses across the country, the merger was quickly approved.

All versions of the newspaper will include the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette but depending on locality, readers will also receive either the Northwest Arkansas Times, Benton County Daily Record, or the Morning News. It’s possible the Morning News will publish slightly different versions for Rogers and Springdale.

To access the versions not included in a particular area, readers will either have to drive to a newstand in that area or go online. Newspaper subscribers are permitted free access to websites but others must pay a monthly fee for the privilege.

I must say I’m a little put out about that. While I can sympathize with their plight (i.e., subscriptions and advertising way down), if two of the premier newspapers in the country (New York Times and Washington Post), among others, are still free, I sort of resent having to pay to read the local newspaper.

On the other hand, a lot of realtors no longer advertise in the newspaper (or magazines either), contributing to the problem. Statistics show that about 90% of home buyers now find their home on line. With home sales down and limited advertising dollars, the real estate industry is changing. The same is probably true for other industries. And unfortunately our local papers are paying the price.

C'est la vie.

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