Tuesday, May 02, 2017

EDITORIAL >> We are your local paper

After years of plummeting circulation and advertising, Gatehouse Media is shutting down five newspapers in central Arkansas, including the Jacksonville Patriot, Sherwood Voice, Maumelle Monitor, Cabot Star Herald and Carlisle Independent, which have lost almost 90 percent of their circulation since these once family-owned businesses were sold to investment groups in the last decade.

Not us, though. We’re independent and here to stay.

The two Lonoke County newspapers closing are the Cabot Star Herald (693 circulation) and Carlisle Independent (377 circulation). They will combine with the Lonoke Democrat (527 circulation), bringing their total circulation to just under 1,600, about one-tenth of what they had a decade ago.

Gatehouse is also closing the Jacksonville Patriot (120 circulation), Sherwood Voice (212 circulation) and Maumelle Monitor (755 circulation). The North Little Rock Times (465 subscribers) will be the only Gatehouse paper left in Pulaski County. Please note that these circulation numbers are not typographical errors.

Their combined Pulaski County circulation was well over 10,000 a decade ago. According to the 2017 Arkansas Press Association Media Directory, circulation has dropped to 1,597.

Gatehouse Media was previously owned by Fortress Investment Group in New York, which has sold the newspapers to SoftBank Group, a Japanese conglomerate. Gatehouse bought the newspapers from Stephens Media, which has unloaded almost all of its media properties.

All of these central Arkansas newspapers were once locally owned. They were part of our local history and were proud business members of these cities. Cone and Betty Magie published the Cabot Star Herald, Lonoke Democrat and Carlisle Independent for decades. James and Catherine Canfield were the hands-on publishers of the Jacksonville Daily News, which was an incubator for many journalists who later went out on their own. Kitty and David Chism built the North Little Rock Times into an award-winning newspaper, which the National Newspaper Association voted the best weekly in America more than once.

Though they were competitors, we will miss the other formerly locally owned papers and their owners. Sad to see them go, but it strengthens our resolve to publish the community news that you will not find anywhere else, including Facebook, Twitter, TV, radio or any other newspaper.

We provide local news for local residents with local government stories, police reports, funerals, schools and sports, next-day election results, local business news and much more.

We at The Leader are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. We are one of the few remaining family-owned local newspapers. Our Lonoke County distribution is over 24,000.

Our total distribution is approximately 36,000 for the Wednesday and Saturday Leader and the direct-mailed Leader Extra, making us your local newspaper, the largest non-daily in Arkansas. Our coverage areas are Sherwood, Jacksonville, Lonoke, Cabot, Ward, Austin, Beebe and many other surrounding communities.

Our main office is in Jacksonville, and we have a satellite office in Cabot. Our presses are in Jacksonville. When you advertise in The Leader or subscribe to The Leader, your money stays in our communities. It does not go to an out-of-state company or overseas to Japan.

We are unquestionably your local newspaper. We thank you, our readers and our advertisers, for your continuing partnership with us. Without you, we would not exist.