by Tyler Hale
Print journalism has become a precarious industry in recent years, with multiple newspaper closings, merger and buyouts. The industry has been impacted by the digital revolution, which has moved readers online, as well as a host of other factors.
The shifting tides have now impacted an almost 120-year-old newspaper.
Founded in 1901, the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN) has operated as a separate corporate entity from the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) since 1983. On January 16, the ABN board of trustees voted to dissolve the corporate entity and transfer control back to the ABSC executive board, who affirmed the decision on Jan. 28.
Prior to 1983, the ABSC board oversaw the newspaper.
According to an ABN news release, the reason for the corporate shift is declining subscriptions for the newspaper. In 1990, the newspaper reportedly had 46,480 subscriptions. By August 2019, ABN had only 12,480. Based on the August 2019 figures, ABN had only 26.85 percent of its total subscriptions from 1990.
Feasibility studies had been conducted multiple times since 1990, with studies being performed in 1990, 1999 and 2007. However, a 2019 study revealed that the newspaper would not be financially viable as an independent entity.
ABSC has invested in the ABN organization. According to a 2019 graph, the ABSC contributed $235,521 from its missions cooperative program.
ABN’s print and website operations are currently being transitioned to the ABSC Executive Board’s communications team. The publication is published bi-weekly in print with 25 editions annually. It is also available in a digital edition.
Arkansas Money & Politics has reached out to ABSC for further comment. We will update this story later.