The state’s largest newspaper is filing for bankruptcy protection, and may soon have new owners. The Alaska Dispatch News announced a deal this weekend that could turn the paper over to a publishing group made up of lifelong Alaskans.
In an article on its front page Sunday, the Dispatch reported its owner, Alice Rogoff, is stepping down, with new owners taking control immediately. That group is made up of siblings from Fairbanks lead by businessman Ryan Binkley, along with Jason Evans, originally of Nome. Evans currently owns three small Alaska papers: the Arctic Sounder, Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman and Homer Tribune.
In a statement that ran Sunday alongside the news article in the ADN, the new owners say they are committed to keeping up the paper’s robust coverage of Anchorage and the state.
The deal is not yet final. Evans wrote an email to staff at his papers Monday saying the new arrangement could fall apart “due to uncertainty of the the bankruptcy process.” Evans added that it’s the Binkley family that is seeking to “buy the paper out of bankruptcy,” and his main contribution is advice. That includes pushing the paper to hire Jerry Grilly, a former publisher of the Anchorage Daily News and Denver Post, whom Evans describes as a “newspaper turnaround expert.”
The ADN is facing multiple lawsuits over allegations of unpaid bills and breached contracts. On Friday, telecom firm GCI filed a complaint seeking to recoup nearly $3 million and evict ADN from the warehouse space that houses the paper’s printing press. In a statement published by the Dispatch, Rogoff said it’s a “bittersweet moment” to be “handing off stewardship” of the paper. She added that financial realities can’t be wished away.
Rogoff bought the paper for $34 million in 2014.
Neither Rogoff nor the new owners offered any information on the fate of the Dispatch’s current employees, or whether the company expects to downsize in the immediate future.