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Newsonomics: It’s looking like Gannett will be acquired by GateHouse — creating a newspaper megachain like the U.S. has never seen
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Aug. 14, 2017, 1:50 p.m.
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LINK: www.adn.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   August 14, 2017

Alaska Dispatch News — Alaska’s largest news site, which in 2014 acquired Alaska’s largest newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, from McClatchy — is filing for bankruptcy but also getting new owners, publisher Alice Rogoff announced over the weekend.

“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,” Rogoff said in a statement. (We first wrote about the online Alaska Dispatch back in 2010.)

Financial realities can’t be wished away. Fortunately, our legal system provides a mechanism for reorganizing the company, bringing in new capital, and keeping it going through the transition. That is what we are doing. In placing the Dispatch under the jurisdiction of the courts through Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, the newspaper will continue doing what it does best. It will emerge from the process in a short time, able to navigate these challenging economic times in a stronger position.

As of Sunday, “a group of lifelong Alaskans…have come together to save the ADN during this interim time.” The new owners are Ryan Binkley, “a fourth-generation riverboat captain who has led his family business in Fairbanks, The Riverboat Discovery and Gold Dredge 8, for the last 11 years,” and his siblings, and Jason Evans, who is “the president of Rural Energy Enterprises, has experience on numerous boards and is the owner of Alaska Media LLC, which owns three newspapers in rural Alaska.”

The purchase price for Alaska Dispatch News “could be up to $1 million.” Alaska Dispatch News purchased the Anchorage Daily News for $34 million three years ago. “By virtue of the $34 million that Alice paid for the Daily News, the Daily News is likely the most valuable newspaper of its size in the U.S.,” Anchorage Daily News editor Pat Dougherty claimed at the time. “Does that sound like an unsuccessful business? If it were so unsuccessful, why would Alice buy it? The irony is that the Dispatch was the failing business. The Dispatch had to buy the Daily News in order to survive.”

Craig Medred, an independent Alaska journalist, has more, writing, “Potential Dispatch buyers who became familiar with the current financial situation of the ADN said bankruptcy is probably the worst result for current employees of the newspaper, but possibly the only way to save the newspaper in Anchorage.”

Alaska Dispatch News runs on The Washington Post’s digital publishing platform, Arc. Earlier this year, the paper cut its print edition from seven to six days a week and added a paywall, with digital access for $9.99 a month.

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