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Moving to the Morning: there's a new newspaper war, and this time it's in Northwest Arkansas.

Call it "The Newspaper War: Part II."

Fans of the Little Rock newspaper war, which ended Oct. 18 when Arkansas Democrat Publisher Walter E. Hussman Jr. purchased the assets of the Arkansas Gazette and combined the two newspapers, can look to northwest Arkansas for the latest journalistic battle.

Fayetteville's Northwest Arkansas Times will become a morning publication May 1 and expand its coverage area by adding bureaus at Springdale and Siloam Springs.

The move puts the newspaper in direct competition with the The Morning News at Springdale. That publication changed its name from The Springdale News, shifted to mornings and beefed up its Fayetteville bureau in 1990.

The Fayetteville newspaper is owned by Thomson Newspapers Inc.

The Springdale newspaper is owned by the Donrey Media Group.

Northwest Arkansas Times Publisher David Stokes says the change to mornings came following an extensive survey of area readers.

"It showed that this is definitely a morning newspaper area," says Stokes, 42, who came to Fayetteville in September. "The whole paper is going to change. It's going to have a new design."

Editor Janet Fontenot says the newspaper will have "a cleaner, more organized look."

Head-To-Head Battle

The head-to-head battle for readers and advertising dollars doesn't bother Stokes. He claims competition will be good for both newspapers.

"We're going to complement the other papers in northwest Arkansas," Stokes says. "The Morning News will always be here. We don't want to drive them out of business."

That optimistic attitude is not shared by all of the area's merchants.

"Something has to give," says John Cole, owner of a Fayetteville men's clothing store. "I don't think both newspapers can reach the same market. I don't know if there's room for two newspapers in this market. The jury is still out."

The Northwest Arkansas Times is adding five reporters and a former Gazette Fayetteville-based sports correspondent, Jim Harris, as news editor.

Editor Jim Morriss, who has been at The Morning News for 25 years, expects few additional changes at the Springdale newspaper in response to what is going on at Fayetteville.

"We've never had any kind of advertising campaign or editorial campaign against the Times," Morriss says. "We've never been involved in that kind of competition.

"We feel we have put out a pretty good product during the past two years. We've learned a lot ... You're not going to see any massive changes."
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Title Annotation:The Morning News; Northwest Arkansas Times
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 6, 1992
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