Alaska's largest newspaper avoids closure as bankruptcy judge approves $1M deal

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaska's largest newspaper, down to its last dollar and on the brink of closing, was given new life on Monday as a federal judge approved a $1 million sale that will keep the presses running.

The move comes just three years after Alice Rogoff paid $34 million to buy the Anchorage Daily News from The McClatchy Company, which then merged with her Alaska Dispatch.

Even though the paper is still afloat thanks to the Binkley family of Fairbanks, the path forward is uncertain.

"There's a lot of risk in this deal. There's nothing certain about it, but we're willing to take that risk because we believe that a turnaround is possible," said Ryan Binkley, who leads the new ownership group. "We believe there's a viable business here, and also we believe it's incredibly important for the state and the city of Anchorage for this institution to continue."

While the family believes there is money to be earned, they were alone in that belief.

Despite attempts by Rogoff to sell the paper to national media companies and other local investor groups, only the Binkleys had enough interest to actually place a bid by the time the bankruptcy auction rolled around on Monday.

That is not entirely surprising: the company is losing $1 million a month, and there are big concerns about where the paper can be printed due to troubles with the printing press.

If not for the deal, the company would literally have been down to $467 on hand by the end of the week.

While the deal ensures that the paper will survive, Ryan Binkley acknowledged that layoffs will likely be necessary to correct the paper's finances.

The deal also means that Northrim Bank, GCI, and dozens of contractors -- most of all M&M Wiring -- will see little if any money for work they performed for Rogoff's company.

Rogoff walked away from reporters saying she would "never do an interview," but her attorney, Cabot Christianson said that people being left without money is just the way bankruptcy works.

"It's unfortunate, but that's what the bankruptcy system was designed for, when there's not enough money to go around. If there's not enough money to go around, by definition, somebody doesn't get paid," Christianson said.

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