by Max Brantley
Most interesting news from Stephens Media, if you're into the newspaper business.
CABOT - Stephens Media Group today announced the purchase of five Central Arkansas newspapers from Magie Enterprises Inc., a family-owned publishing company that has been operating for over 50 years.
No financial terms were disclosed.
The newspapers are the weekly Cabot Star-Herald, Carlisle Independent, Lonoke Democrat and Sherwood Voice, plus the twice-weekly Jacksonville Patriot. Also included in the sale is the Weekend Edition, a total-market-coverage publication.
"The Magie family has a great tradition of building first-class, community-minded newspapers," said Warren Stephens, chairman of Stephens Media Group and president and CEO of Stephens Inc. in Little Rock. "These papers are an excellent fit with the 16 other papers we own in Arkansas."
Stephens Media you might know, had eyes on dominating the NW Ark. newspaper market, but Walter Hussman stepped in and is now waging a full-scale war with a regional Democrat-Gazette against Stephens newspapers for that growing market.
Stephens hasn't been sitting still. It has pursued a strategy of building its suburban presence in Central Arkansas -- along with its huge LR bureau -- having bought papers in North Little Rock and Maumelle earlier. It's no secret they've been interested in some other acquistions in this area. Benton and Conway, for example, seem potentially in play. Could the war have two fronts before long?
Other metros have seen free dailies and vibrant new media entries on the web emerge to challenge daily print monopolies once thought unassailable.