Layoffs hit Alaska Dispatch News in wake of bankruptcy sale

Updated | 5:16 p.m.

A “significant” number of employees have been laid off at Alaska Dispatch News as part of a restructuring under the company’s new owners.

Every department in the company — the newsroom, advertising, circulation, production and finance — was affected. The job reductions began last week and continued through Wednesday. Layoffs in the newsroom included editors, reporters and others.

“It’s a significant change in the size of the newspaper,” said Ryan Binkley, one of the new owners of ADN. He would not say how many people in total were let go.

“There are no good choices, only less bad ones,” he said. “The newspaper’s in a very, very tough spot. So it requires hard decisions.”

A judge last week approved the sale of ADN to Binkley Co. LLC. Alaska Dispatch News, under its previous owner Alice Rogoff, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 12.

“There’s a lot of new folks who are just starting their career who are going to be hurt by this and a lot of outstanding folks who have devoted their lives to the success of this place that are going to feel it as well,” Binkley said. “But you know, moving forward, it’s what’s needed for the paper to be healthy.”

David Hulen, the newspaper’s managing editor, also said the layoffs were a difficult necessity for keeping ADN alive.

“It’s been a tough day,” he said in a written comment. “We’re saying goodbye to longtime co-workers and friends. We’re losing talented and dedicated journalists who have served this community, and Alaska, for many years. At the same time, everyone recognizes the need to make the ADN sustainable for the long haul so it can continue serving the community. That will be our focus moving forward.”

Also on Wednesday, changes hit the print edition of the newspaper, which will now have two sections instead of three Mondays through Thursdays. Binkley said that is an “interim step” in the process of rolling out a new format in the next couple of months.

There won’t be any immediate big changes in coverage, Binkley said, but he added the newspaper will try to focus more on local news and on Anchorage readers.

“It’s not that we’re going to stop reporting on rural Alaska,” he said. “Those parts of the state are still as important as they were. We’re just going to try to be more efficient about it.”

Binkley has told ADN staff several times since the bankruptcy filing that there was an urgent need to get the company’s expenses more in line with its revenue. ADN lost $4 million in the first six months of this year, he previously told staff.

The company came close to running out of money before the sale to the Binkley group.

Bankruptcy filings from mid-August show that, at that time, Alaska Dispatch News had 212 employees.

Annie Zak, Alaska Dispatch News

Original story | 1:53 p.m.

New owners lay off employees at Alaska’s largest newspaper

ANCHORAGE — The new owners of Alaska’s largest newspaper have laid off reporters, editors and other employees just days after a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the Alaska Dispatch News.

Co-publisher Ryan Binkley wouldn’t disclose how many of the 212 employees were laid off, but described it in a story published Thursday as a significant change in the size of the newspaper. Binkley didn’t immediately return messages from The Associated Press.

He said he realized a lot of employees would be hurt by layoffs, but it was necessary to make the newspaper healthy.

The Binkley Co., comprised of the Binkley family members of Fairbanks, purchased the newspaper for $1 million Sept. 11. Former publisher Alice Rogoff sought bankruptcy protection in August as the newspaper was losing $125,000 a week.

Associated Press

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