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The Modern News of Harrisburg, one of the oldest weekly newspapers in the state, has closed but is still for sale, its editor said Thursday.

The newspaper published its last edition on July 5, after 129 years, said Curtis Sanders, editor and general manager. It didn't put out a "farewell'' edition to a community it began serving in 1888.

"It kinda happened all of a sudden," Sanders said.

The paper's owners, Elaine Nix and her son, Mark, put the newspaper up for sale this spring. Its longtime publisher and editor, Charles Nix, Elaine Nix's husband, died in 2015.

Sanders said he hopes a buyer can still be found. "I'm just afraid that every day that goes by is just going to make it more difficult," he said. "I think there's a sadness in the community."

Harrisburg, the seat of Poinsett County 20 miles south of Jonesboro, has about 2,300 residents.

Through a contractor, about 1,000 copies of The Modern News were printed each week, with about 700 of those in mail subscriptions, Sanders said. Another 300 copies were sold at area stores.

The newspaper, according to its website, got its start in 1888 when L.D. Freeman Sr., who worked at newspapers at Wynne and Memphis, bought the existing paper in Harrisburg, the Arkansas Tribune, and renamed it.

The paper has been in the Freeman family ever since. Its headquarters, built in about 1880, was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Sanders said the newspaper never missed putting out an edition and was late, by a day, only a time or two.

Sanders said he is a longtime friend of the Nix family and has worked at The Modern News about 12 years, the last eight as general manager and editor. He was its only full-time employee. It also had a part-time bookkeeper and part-time reporter.

Weekly newspapers in Arkansas generally have been stable, not affected as much by a drop in advertising revenue for print media as larger newspapers have been, Ashley Wimberley, executive director of the Arkansas Press Association, said Thursday.

But Wimberley noted it was announced this week that the weekly Gurdon Times in Clark County will close Aug. 1. A sister publication, the Daily Siftings Herald in Arkadelphia, will pick up coverage in Gurdon, according to Gate House Media, publisher of both newspapers and others across the state and nation.

"Weeklies are doing pretty well, especially if they're kind of isolated geographically" from larger newspapers, Wimberley said. "I think that's a stabilizing influence and, obviously, a focus on local news can make all the difference in the world."

Wimberley also noted that a weekly newspaper presumed dead last summer -- the Atkins Chronicle in Pope County -- has survived.

It is now a monthly publication, chock-full of the minutes of Atkins City Council meetings, the local police blotter, and dozens of obituaries. It cut its press run from about 1,300 copies a week to 600 a month, all sold for $1 in racks in Atkins, Pottsville and Russellville.

The weekly's former circulation manager, Beverly Davis, took over the publication with the help of its longtime publishers, Van and Ginny Tyson.

Business on 07/20/2018

Print Headline: Harrisburg weekly ceases publishing after 129 years

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