COVID casualty: Newspapers find advertising is first to go



The Wuhan coronavirus is taking its toll on newspapers across the Pacific Northwest, from the largest to the smallest, and from Seattle to Girdwood.

Alaska’s largest newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, just wrote that since ” a sudden plunge in advertising and event revenue over the past month, we’ve had to temporarily cut back hours and pay for all employees, along with some painful layoffs. This cost-cutting is aimed at the continuing viability and sustainability of the organization.”

The parent company of the Juneau Empire has closed newspapers and announced layoffs across the Pacific Northwest, where the company has numerous small-town newspapers. According to a report in The Seattle Times, six part-time reporters are responsible for producing Sound Publishing’s 11 Seattle-area papers, including the Renton Reporter and Federal Way Mirror. And the company stopped printing nine of its 13 free weeklies. Those left on staff are working reduced hours, the paper reported.

In Girdwood, Alaska, the tiny but deeply community-focused Glacier City Gazette went to an all-digital edition earlier this year. But when COVID-19 shut down the upcoming tourism season, Publisher and Editor Marc Donadieu said that without advertising, he can’t continue. He put the newspaper to sleep on March 19, saying he didn’t know if it would be something he could revive later on.

“After fours years of publishing GCG, I took a short hiatus to recharge. I was taking steps to resume publishing GCG online, but now it is on indefinite hiatus. The Corvid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the advertising climate in a town dependent on tourism. Ads are the first thing to go, and without enough of them, I cannot pay my staff or myself,” Donadieu wrote.

“Who knows how long the pandemic will last and what its effects will be? Who knows how long and deep the inevitable recession will be? I don’t have any answers about GCG at this point or what I’ll be doing in the future. We’ll see what happens.”

At a time when nearly all businesses in Alaska are reeling from the economic body slam of the pandemic, the Glacier City Gazette, which supported a half-dozen writers and photographers, is the poster child for how the Wuhan virus has impacted many small mom-and-pop businesses far from the epicenter of uncertainty caused by


  1. It is not without great notice that MRAK is still in business. Is it possible that truth in reporting has relevance to survival?

  2. My favorite movie… “ THE JERK” starring Steve Martin. The one valuable line in that movie is “ Son, this is sh*t and this is shinola.” I revere people who know the difference.

  3. As everyone contemplates their own future and predicament in this unchartered / unprecedented times, don’t ever forget where this Wuhan Virus originated from …. i.e. – China. Look around at all of the ‘things’ within your surroundings that says “Made in China” and then, seriously consider making better choices as to where the ‘things’ you own are made and whether that a regime you personally want to help support. Or, maybe it’s time to think about supporting manufacturing jobs a lot closer to home and/or from a much more friendlier trading partner.

  4. David Hulen claims to have recently increased online subscriptions. Maybe so. But It would have been more transparent if he admitted to the huge shortfall in advertising revenues. It is the advertising dollar that floats a print newspaper, not free or low priced online subscriptions. The two normally would go hand in hand. More readership normally translates into more advertising revenue. But not today. Businesses are the main source of advertising and they are almost all shut down. Thus the disconnect.
    The owners ( Binkleys) are starting to lose money very rapidly. How long they can hang on is unknown. But don’t be surprised to see the paper not publishing print editions on some week days. Or frankly to just shut down. At the same time MRAK will thrive because it will be one of few reliable sources for news.
    Get onboard and donate to It. It’s publisher Suzanne Downing works her tail off to provide good content. We cannot afford to lose this source!

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