The North Shelby Times, a small, privately-owned weekly newspaper headquartered on North Watkins Street quietly ceased publication in June, after 44 years in business. Frank Holland, the paper's founder and editor, blamed the closure on a combination of bad luck and a bad economy. The 82-year-old publisher says that the paper skipped one week of publication when a recent windstorm knocked out his building's electricity, then skipped a second week due to a staff medical emergency, and he figured that might be a signal that it was time to close up shop.
“We weren't making any money,” Holland explains. “Nothing's making any money right now.” Holland, an entrepreneur who has dabbled in everything from beauty salons to insurance, says he's lost thousands in the real estate crash and couldn't afford to keep putting money into a publication that wasn't bringing in revenue.
“I actually had some people call saying they were interested in buying the paper, but I never took them seriously,” Holland says. “Why would anybody want to by a business that's not making money.”
The North Shelby Times was originally founded as a means of promoting Holland's 20 salons and 7 Jett Barber Colleges. Its peak circulation was 40,000. Holland's business ventures have been scrutinized by the media in recent years after a deadly fire destroyed one of his low cost rental properties.
“I wrote articles I wanted to write,” says Holland, whose final political column praised Governor Bredesen for vetoing the guns in bars legislation. “I guess I made some people mad, made a lot of enemies,” he jokes unapologetically.
The North Shelby Times website continues to function as a news aggregator, though none of the new content is original to the publication. The last full issue online is dated June 10th.
Connolly's letter to guild members: The Commercial Appeal’s management informed us recently that the company is considering outsourcing its print operations to a yet-to-be-built facility in Tupelo, Miss. It would stop printing the newspaper at 495 Union Ave.
This would lead to significant job losses here in Memphis. We don’t have the exact number.
We are exploring options for the 11 workers covered under The Newspaper Guild’s contract and have a meeting scheduled on July 23 with the company.
The printing workers are covered by three different unions: the mailers, the pressmen and The Memphis Newspaper Guild, of which I am president. Both the mailers and pressmen are associated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
We are cooperating with the other unions as these talks move forward. The Commercial Appeal’s director of operations, Stephen Tomb, described the proposal to outsource the print operations in a June 24 letter to the pressmen.
“As you and the other pressmen are aware, the press equipment at The Commercial Appeal continues to age . . . We believe further capital investment at our current production facility is not the most efficient use of the Company’s resources.”
He estimates that improvements would cost $23 to $26 million and that buying a new press would cost $40 million.
The Commercial Appeal would outsource the work to Journal Publishing Company Inc., which publishes The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and several community newspapers.
According to Tomb’s letter, Journal Publishing Company needs a response from The Commercial Appeal by Aug. 15 so it can include The Commercial Appeal’s printing needs in its design for the plant, which would be ready in 12 to 15 months.
We’ll have plenty of questions for the company at the July 23 meeting, and we’ll pass along more information to you shortly thereafter. Please check this site for updates.
Daniel Connolly, Memphis Newpaper Guild President