NORTH LITTLE ROCK — GateHouse Media announced Wednesday its seven weekly newspapers in Central Arkansas will combine to form two weekly newspapers that would serve Pulaski and Lonoke counties.


The changes to the print editions will start May 10.


In Lonoke County, the Cabot Star-Herald, Lonoke Democrat and The Carlisle Independent will combine into the Lonoke County Democrat and will be distributed on Wednesdays.


In Pulaski County, the North Little Rock Times will remain, and folded into it will be the Maumelle Monitor, Sherwood Voice and Jacksonville Patriot for a weekly newspaper that will be distributed on Thursdays.


“It will be a new, bigger and better combined weekly reading experience,” said Regional Publisher Ed Graves.”The weekly editions will now include even more of what is happening” in print as the moves also include a renewed emphasis on digital and the papers existing web sites, pulaskinews.net and lonokenews.net.


“We hope those sites become a daily destination for our online readers,” said Regional Editor Jeremy Peppas, who will remain in that role for the combined papers. “We’ll have daily coverage from the counties as well as news and sports coverage from arkansasnews.com. It is all part of an overall effort to adjust as both consumers of news and the advertisers that support those efforts as the shift towards digital media continues.”


Peppas added, “It is important to note that these changes will not result in the loss of any editorial or advertising department employees from the papers” and subscription and newsstand prices will remain the same.


The decision to combine into county-wide editions was not made lightly, Peppas said.


“These papers have long and proud histories,” he said. “But to have a future, financially, combined county publications was the best decision and it will allow us to give readers more.”