Arkansas group buys News-Tribune

Walter E. Hussman Jr. of Arkansas is buying the Jefferson City News Tribune, the daily Fulton Sun and the weekly California Democrat from the Weldon family.
Ownership was expected to transfer May 1.
Hussman’s family-owned company, WEHCO Media, Inc., owns seven other newspapers, including Little Rock’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and 13 cable television systems.
Hussman, 61, joined the family business in 1970. It acquired the Arkansas Democrat in 1974. Hussman told the News Tribune that a number of things made the Jefferson City newspaper attractive.
“Being in the state capital was a big plus, and this very stable employment base here was a big plus,” Hussman told the News Tribune. “The facilities, particularly the new printing press—which is really state-of-the-art and really terrific—were a major plus.
“(And) the fact that it was a family-owned newspaper and we’re a family-owned newspaper and would share a lot of the same kind of values with the people who worked here.”
No immediate changes are planned  for staff or newspaper.
When his family acquired the Arkansas Democrat in 1974, it was an afternoon paper competing with
the larger, morning Arkansas Gazette. The Democrat was switched to mornings.
Hussman said there is no commitment to changing the 18,100-circulation News Tribune from afternoon
to morning publication. “We’ll evaluate that, along with everything else,” he said, “and also try to do
some reader research on that.”

Most of WEHCO Media’s cable television franchises are in Arkansas. Its other newspaper holdings include the Chattanooga, Tenn., Times Free Press; and papers in Hot Springs and El Dorado, Ark., and Texarkana, Texas.
Hussman and his wife, Robena, have three children. Their son, 24, graduated from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, after spending about 1 1/2 years at Westminster College, Fulton. Their twin daughters, 21, are juniors at the University of North Carolina.
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray represented the Weldon family in the transaction.
The Weldon family has owned the News Tribune since 1927. Betty Weldon was publisher for nearly 50 years before her death in 2007. The family acquired the Fulton daily in 1995 and the California weekly in 1998.
—from the Jefferson City News Tribune

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