- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2020

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is converting its circulation to digital only, except for Sundays, following the success of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Walter Hussman Jr., chairman of WEHCO Media and publisher of both newspapers, expects the shift to the digital-replica format to be completed by the end of August, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

The Monday-through-Saturday newspapers will no longer be printed and distributed in the 12-county Northwest Arkansas circulation area. Instead it will be published as a digital copy.

The Sunday edition paper will still be printed, delivered and available for single-copy sale.

In a pilot program for the Gazette’s northwest edition, Hussman found 97% of readers in Harrison signed up for the digital subscription.

As part of the shift to a digital-replica of the paper, Hussman has been providing Apple iPads to subscribers who want one in order to read the digital edition. They can keep the iPads as long as they continue to subscribe.

Since early January, about 27,000 iPads have been distributed.

Hussman has been working for two years to convert subscribers to digital. He says he would have needed to raise the monthly subscription price from $19 to $34 in order to keep the newspaper from losing money.

“We’re not in this for a quick profit, obviously,” said Hussman. “We’re in it to make this newspaper sustainable.”

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