“This is a critical time for Alaska. A turning point,” the new owner of the Alaska Dispatch News told a crowd of 150 business-focused Alaskans at the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce’s fall forum in Sitka today.
Ryan Binkley also said he’s in the market for a publisher.
But he started his presentation with humor and a Power Point slide that asked, in big letters “Why?”
That, no doubt, was the question on the minds of his audience members, who watched the previous owner of the Alaska Dispatch News descend into financial ruin.
Binkley said that because Alaska is at a crossroads, now is a time when an informed population is more important than ever. That was a driving force for the Binkley family to purchase the newspaper in the first place.
He acknowledged that although the newspaper industry is in decline, the Alaska Dispatch News still has a huge segment of the news and ad market in Alaska, at over 47 percent, and that reasons for continuing its publication made good business sense, and it was also good for the state.
Binkley, son of well-known Fairbanks businessman and civic leader John Binkley, promised the business community the paper will be dedicated to accuracy, fairness, and accountability. And he acknowledged the need for the Dispatch to rebuild relationships in the community and across the state. The message, according to several in the room, was well delivered, and well received.
Binkley told business leaders that next week is when printing will be taken over by Wick Communications, which owns The Frontiersman newspaper, which serves the Mat-Su Valley and the Anchorage Press, an entertainment weekly.
Wick had once been in contract talks with former publisher Alice Rogoff to print th paper, but she pulled out at the last minute and purchased a press from Indiana, which never was operational and has become an albatross around her neck. The Binkley Co. decided not to take the press as part of its purchase.
The newspaper will also change format, he said, and will cover more local and Anchorage news. He hinted at a name change.