This is the second edition of the new newspaper combining the Maumelle Monitor, the Sherwood Voice and the Jacksonville Patriot under the North Little Rock Times banner.


Where will this go? Will Maumelle residents accept a paper that’s not their own or just partly their own. The initial reactions have been mixed from readers I’ve heard from. The comments range from, “not impressed,” to ,“really like it,” to, “I’ll wait and see.” One reader likes the idea of getting news from our surrounding areas. I kind of like that as well. The big state paper is not going to devote a lot of coverage to community events.


Maumelle did seem to get more attention than the other communities. Maumelle First Baptist Church pastor Dr. Chris Larmoyeux appears to be continuing his column and our sports were covered more than sports in the other communities.


I had a chance to visit with the former editor, Bill Lawson, and current editor, Jeremy Peppas, about the old Monitor and the new Monitor.


According to Lawson, the new combined newspaper is a plan that has been around since the papers were bought by Stephens Media in 2006.


“All along I argued against folding Maumelle into the combined effort for many reasons,” Lawson said. “At the time we were publishing a 36-page newspaper every week with plenty of Maumelle content and Maumelle advertisements.“


“The size of the paper declined over the years due to a lack of ads caused by a variety of reasons: “he continued. “The key reason Maumelle should have its own newspaper is its affluence and the unparalleled growth of the community unlike any other in Central Arkansas.


“There is more than enough news copy to maintain a 24- to 36-page newspaper on a regular basis. Maumelle readers were hungry for news of all sorts. The police beat with a list of who was arrested and charged with various crimes along with burglary and theft stories was the most popular section.


“As a growing city, there were always ample stories from City Hall about Council actions, Planning Commission activities and other governmental agencies’ actions. I also always argued that the average Maumelle resident was more politically active and interested in community involvement than in any other Arkansas community. “


That was then. Evidently, it isn’t now.


Q and A with Peppas


I expressed a few concerns and had some questions for Editor Jeremy Peppas in an “email interview:”


When will the websites be updated to reflect current news? Right now, they all seem stuck in March. Will each city have its own page?


“There are still some technical issues that have to be worked out with how stories and photos are pushed to the site and then once they are there, how they’re displayed. It has proven to be a little more problematic and time-consuming than originally anticipated.”


The first edition had very little Jacksonville news. Will it become more balanced? Is there one edition or are there different editions for different communities? It also seemed that the sports coverage leaned toward Maumelle and very little on the other communities.


“Balance is always the goal. It just happened that Jacksonville was a little lighter this week, but there’s always an ebb and flow to coverage. In sports, that’s especially true and in particular with post-season play. Schools still playing will get more coverage.


No, one edition.”


Are you still seeking readers to send you news? Is the deadline still Friday since the paper comes out on Thursday?


“Yes. And the earlier the better. That helps with the planning for what goes in the next week and also helps set the news hole, newspaper jargon for how much space will be needed for that particular edition.”


Will you continue to cover Maumelle Council meetings? What about Sherwood, Jacksonville and North Little Rock? Will the paper cover their Council meetings?


“Generally speaking, yes. All the councils meet on different schedules and the goal is to have coverage from each meeting.


Police beats: Will you run a combined list?


“We’ve always tried to have a police blotter that covered major crimes like homicides and that will continue. But some things are still works in progress.”


I hope you readers continue to read and support this and other small town newspapers. It’s important to communities around the country to cover things besides what’s going in Washington D.C. (God help us!) and in Little Rock.


See you on the Boulevard.


Neal Moore is a public relations and advertising consultant and freelance writer. If you have a community concern, news tip or if you’re just irritated about something, contact him at neal.moore@sbcglobal.net. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.