Friday, October 02, 2020

Twice-weekly paper in Arkansas, closed by GateHouse Media, now has local owners and higher circulation

Helena-West Helena, in Phillips
County, Ark. (Wikipedia maps)
A little over a year ago, GateHouse Media shuttered the Helena World, one of Arkansas' oldest newspapers. But soon thereafter, local entrepreneurs Chuck Davis and Andrew Bagley bought it, and today it's thriving, Stephen Steed reports for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The twice-weekly paper had 625 paid subscribers when it closed. Now? "For a recent issue, the World sent out 416 copies to subscribers and had 422 single-copy sales, Bagley said. Circulation has topped 900 in recent weeks, boosted by the return of high-school football," Steed reports. "Single-copy sales spike when "there's a piece of juicy crime news," Bagley said. A goal is 1,000 copies a week, through subscriptions ($100 a year) and single-copy sales at ($1 each)." 

Davis and Bagley now publish the paper once a week, but make sure it has at least two sections with at least a dozen pages per edition. Besides Bagley and Davis, they have a bookkeeper, two freelance writers, and a new editor coming in on Nov. 1, which Bagley says will free him up to concentrate on selling ads, Steed reports from the city of Helena-West Helena, the product of a 2006 merger.

Advertising has plummeted due to the pandemic, but the paper received a $3,000 state grant and $13,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program that helped it stay afloat, Steed reports.

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