RIPLEY • Next week Benton Countians will see a new paper in their mailboxes and in racks across the county.

The Southern Advocate and its sister paper the Southern Sentinel merge into one paper on Wednesday, March 18. The newly combined paper will take on the name Southern Sentinel but will continue to provide the same Benton County coverage that Southern Advocate readers have come to expect.

Both Benton and Tippah County have a long history of being closely connected. In fact, most of Benton County was part of Tippah County before July 1870 and the people and communities still have strong ties. Often stories that affect one county will affect the other, whether it be a story about Tippah Electric offering broadband service to its customers, an accomplishment by a Lamar resident who works in Tippah County, or a feature on the traveling Vietnam Memorial that is in Ashland this week.

The same staff has produced both the Advocate and Sentinel for over 20 years and the combination of the two papers is just one step in helping expand our local news coverage. With the new paper, the staff will have one extra day (which was previously used for layout and editing a second paper, along with all the other technical and time-consuming aspects that go into producing and printing the paper) to devote to gathering the news and covering the stories that are important to you.

“Readers are going to see great things with the new Southern Sentinel,” said General Manager Tim Watson. “We will be providing a bigger and better paper to Benton and Tippah County. There will be more news, more sports, more photos and more human interest features. This will allow both counties to be aware of events that are happening in their surrounding communities.

How will the combination of the two papers affect customers?

The newspaper will now publish a day early on Wednesdays. If you currently subscribe to the Southern Advocate, you will be converted to a Southern Sentinel subscriber and the remaining weeks on your account will be transferred to the Sentinel. If you subscribe to both papers, your Advocate subscription will stop and the remaining balance will be added to the end of your Sentinel subscription. When your subscription expires, a renewal card will be mailed for the Southern Sentinel. All racks will be converted to the Southern Sentinel on Wednesday, March 18. Rack prices will increase to 75 cents.

“It is our hope that this merger will increase participation in local festivals, help businesses gain more patrons, and help our readers to become aware of all the great things that are available to residents in both counties,” concluded Watson.

If you have questions about the Southern Advocate/Southern Sentinel merger call 662-837-8111. If you have a story you would like to see in the Southen Sentinel, email tina.campbell@journalinc.com.

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