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The weekly Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) newspaper the Times Dispatch has been in continuous publication since 1910 when Dave A. Lindsey moved his newspaper operations from Pocahontas (Randolph County) to Walnut Ridge. The newspaper’s website gives this characterization of the paper: “The Times Dispatch has traditionally been a conservative, Democratic newspaper, with a mission to provide complete news coverage of Lawrence County and to serve as a crusader and primary supporter of Lawrence County and its businesses.”
In 1913, Lindsey sold the paper to Walter Smith. Smith published the paper for approximately eight years before selling it to James L. Bland Sr. of Perry County and Austin Wilkerson, editor and publisher of the Newport Independent. By 1922, Bland was the sole owner. After securing a loan from the W. O. Trout family, publishers of the Sun in Jonesboro (Craighead County), Bland was able to make improvements to the paper with the purchase of new equipment, including a Linotype. It was the first such press to be owned by a weekly paper published in Arkansas. In 1946, another innovative move was made with the purchase of a used web-fed press, again the first of its type to be used by an Arkansas weekly.
In 1971, the paper was converted to offset printing. As the paper still operated an eight-page letterpress and possessed an oversupply of newsprint at the time of the conversion, the first eight pages were printed in Walnut Ridge, and the remainder of the paper was printed on the presses of the Clay County Courier in Corning (Clay County). By 1977, the printing of the entire paper was being done at the Paragould Daily Press printing plant in Paragould (Greene County). In 1992, the printing was returned to Corning and then back to Paragould before moving to the presses of the Jonesboro Sun.
Ownership of the paper has been in the hands of the Bland family since 1922. In 1951, James L. Bland Jr. became the editor and later publisher and general manager. In 1977, Bland took a less active role in the paper as honorary publisher, while Thomas A. Moore was named editor. Moore held that position until the spring of 1996, when John A. Bland became editor. Bland continued as business manager and advisor until his death in 1986.
The weekly paid circulation of the paper, which averages about thirty pages, is over 5,000.
For additional information:
Meriwether, Robert W. A Chronicle of Arkansas Newspapers Published Since 1922 and of the Arkansas Press Association, 1930–1972. Little Rock: Pioneer Press, 1974.
Times Dispatch. http://www.thetd.com/ (accessed November 21, 2017).
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 11/21/2017
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