The Times Dispatch
The Times Dispatch was established in Walnut Ridge in 1910 when Dave A. Lindsey moved the newspaper to Walnut Ridge from Pocahontas. Three years later, Walter Smith purchased the paper. Then, in 1921, James L. Bland, native of Bigelow in Perry County, and Austin Wilkerson, editor and publisher of the Newport Independent, bought The Times Dispatch.
Within a short time, the newspaper began a steady climb upward. The following year, Bland bought out Wilkerson's interest in the paper, making him the sole owner of The Times Dispatch. With a loan from the W. O. Troutt family, owner of The Jonesboro Sun, Bland was enabled to buy new equipment, including a Linotype, the first owned by any weekly paper in the state. In those days, the newspaper consisted of four or five handset columns of news per issue, mostly made up of small one-paragraph items. In 1946, The Times Dispatch bought a used web-fed newspaper press, the first owned by a weekly in Arkansas.
In 1971, The Times Dispatch converted to offset printing. Since the newspaper still had an eight-page letterpress, and because of an oversupply of newsprint, the first eight pages were printed in Walnut Ridge and the remaining pages were printed at the Clay County Courier in Corning. In 1977, the paper began being printed at the Paragould Daily Press printing plant. In 1992, the paper began printing again in Corning, before returning to Paragould. It is now printed at The Jonesboro Sun.
James L. Bland Jr. began working with his father at the newspaper office during 1946. In 1951, the younger Bland became editor and later became publisher and general manager. In 1977, the elder Bland was named honorary publisher and Thomas A. Moore was named editor, a position he held until the spring of 1986.
Since 1986, John A. Bland, a third generation of the Bland family has served as editor, and later publisher, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. James L. Bland Jr. continued to serve as business manager and advisor until his death in 1996. Virginia (Mrs. James L. Jr.) Bland is principal owner of the paper and continues to have a role in its weekly production.
The Times Dispatch has been blessed with a number of faithful, longtime staff members, who have contributed greatly to the newspaper's success. In 2006, staff members with The TD for well over 30 years include: Hope Segraves, Howard Golden and Janice Hibbard.
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.
As of 2006, The Times Dispatch has a paid circulation of just under 6,000 and averages approximately 28 to 32 pages each week, along with various inserts.
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