Frontiers 118: A newspaper on the brink
Although I am a television news broadcaster, my passion for newspapers goes all the way back to my childhood. It was hard to hear that Alaska’s largest newspaper is on the brink of folding – and the odds against it might be insurmountable.
For many Alaska Dispatch News readers, recent revelations in federal bankruptcy court have come as a shock.
Since Alice Rogoff bought the Anchorage Daily News three years ago, the paper expanded rapidly and ran annual multi-million dollar deficits. When asked about that, Rogoff said she was in “investment mode,” which created the impression she had ample resources to bankroll the newspaper with her own personal wealth. After all, she is married to David Rubenstein, owner of one of the world’s largest private equity firms and one of the richest men in America.
In bankruptcy court, Rogoff said she has lost 17 million since buying the Anchorage Daily News. Currently, the paper is losing about $125,000 a week. In a statement, Rogoff said she could no longer afford to subsidize the paper.
This plight of Alaska Dispatch has many moving pieces – including efforts from the Binkley family of Fairbanks and Jason Evans, a rural newspaper publisher – to position themselves to buy the newspaper by loaning it $1,000,000 to meet payroll and keep it circulation.
In this week’s Frontiers, we will look at the past, present and future of the paper – and hear from a number of voices in Alaska journalism, which include Craig Medred and Julia O’Malley.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Brave New World. Alaskans, like the rest of the country, are increasingly turning to online websites and social media for their daily news diet.
- Financial Precipice. An overview of the Alaska Dispatch’s money woes and the red flags along the way.
- Analysis: Our guests this week are two Alaska newspaper veterans -- Michael Carey and Edgar Blatchford. Carey is a popular newspaper columnist, whose writing has often served as the conscience of both the Anchorage Daily News and the Alaska Dispatch. Blatchford teaches journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage and has championed rural and Alaska Native news coverage. Together, they put the Alaska Dispatch’s plight in historical context and talk about what’s at stake for the state, if the newspaper dies.