Acquisitions and reductions continue to reshape the Alaska media industry, with some of the more recent moves occurring in Fairbanks and Southcentral Alaska.
In Fairbanks, the Daily News-Miner laid off four employees in December, the first such action since the newspaper and its sister paper, the Kodiak Daily Mirror, were purchased by the Fairbanks-based Helen E. Snedden Foundation in early 2016.
“It’s the same as the rest of the world,” said Virginia Farmier, trustee of the foundation. “Alaska hasn’t escaped the dilemma in the newspaper industry of a lack of advertising revenue.
“With reduced traditional revenues over the past three years, some tough decisions had to be made after a complete review of all operations,” she said. “Some layoffs were made, along with other streamlining processes, renegotiating vendor contracts and in some cases changing services.”
News-Miner Publisher Richard E. Harris said the layoffs were regrettable but necessary as the newspaper continues adapting to the current tumultuous media market.
“We had to say goodbye to some wonderful employees, some hardworking members of our team who believed in putting out a good product every day for residents of the Fairbanks region,” Harris said. “We will miss their contributions.
“Going forward, we, like other newspapers across the country, are constantly looking for new ways to bring information to our readers, to engage with our readers, and to attract new readers and advertisers, both in print and online,” he said. “And we aim to keep producing a quality product. That remains our focus.”
Newspapers across the nation have seen revenue decline sharply in the past decade, and many are turning their attention to increasing digital subscriptions.
“The News-Miner has had success with our online edition and it has grown over 340% in the past 12 months,” Farmier said. “Our readers are loyal and we will depend on them more than ever to support our mission of keeping the public informed of local events and news.”
Community support could eventually come through an additional means. The company will be applying to the Internal Revenue Service this year to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation as a community asset, which could open the possibility of receiving grants and other types of financial support.
“The Helen Snedden Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operating the News-Miner as a limited liability corporation, which makes grants directly to the newspaper a little more complicated,” Farmier said. “So, having the News-Miner have its own nonprofit status should allow grants to be given directly to the newspaper.”
The News-Miner, which traces its history back to the early years of Fairbanks, continues to publish seven days a week, serving residents of Interior Alaska. The company, which has 55 employees, also has an online presence at newsminer.com and produces two monthly magazines.
Staff reductions have occurred at media outlets throughout the state in recent years, reflecting the long-running trend in the industry.
The Anchorage Daily News, when it was previously known as the Alaska Dispatch News, released several longtime journalists in 2017. The Homer Tribune, one of two newspapers in that community closed in October. Several other smaller newspapers have changed ownership in the past three years.
Contact Editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor