Alaska’s biggest newspaper files for bankruptcy following lawsuit

The Alaska Daily News may be the latest newspaper casualty in the consumer move to online journalism; how do you sell local newspapers to readers who get the world press for free?

Order in the Court. (Image of gavel by Brian Turner via Flickr, CC 2.0 license.)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, August 14, 2017 — After massive losses and the inability to pay its rent on time, the largest newspaper in Anchorage filed for bankruptcy.

In operation since 1946, the paper’s name was changed from “Anchorage Daily News” to the “Alaska Dispatch News.” The publication was purchased by Alice Rogoff in 2014. The decision to file for bankruptcy came after telecommunications company GCI filed a lawsuit for back rent.

Declining revenue and subscription rates as readers access their news via their computers and smart phones have sealed the fate of print publishers. Many have responded by reducing their print content and moving to a digital format. The latest newspaper in the lower 48 states to close was the Tampa Tribune.

Rogoff released a statement explaining her decision to file for bankruptcy:

“We’ve worked hard to help illuminate the issues of our day and provide a platform for points of view from across Alaska. Yet like newspapers everywhere, the struggle to make ends meet financially eventually caught up with us. I simply ran out of my ability to subsidize this great news product. Financial realities can’t be wished away.”

Since the paper filed for bankruptcy, several groups have expressed their interest in purchasing it, including Media LLC, which already runs three Alaska newspapers, and a company run by Binkley family members Ryan Binkley, Wade Binkley, James Binkley and Kai Binkley Sims. The Binkley group wants to work with Alaska Media to purchase the paper but has not disclosed a source of funding.

Listverse has listed 10 reasons the newspaper could be dying, including the fact that that the target demographic of “older people” no longer reads newspapers like it did in the past. Newspapers must turn their attention to young people, including millennials.

The loss of readership is one reason cited for why newspaper advertising revenues have decreased by 10 percent, according to Pew Research Center.

The Binkleys’ announced that if their bid is successful, they will restructure the paper’s employment structure. But they have not said who they would keep and who they would get rid. Some Alaskans—presumably those still among the paper’s readers—are demanding that the paper be kept alive. They believe the state needs a healthy paper as much as it needs utilities and infrastructure.

The paper will face an eviction hearing on Aug. 21.

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