DISPATCH SHRINKING SIZE AND STAFF
By CRAIG MEDRED
Yet more trouble appears on the horizon for the already troubled business of journalism in Alaska.
Rumors have been swirling for weeks that yet more downsizing is coming at the Alaska Dispatch News – the state’s biggest, brawniest and, by sheer force of numbers, best news organization.
And Monday came a “Reader Survey” tucked away on page A-4 of the Alaska’s largest newspaper asking readers in little-bitty type to tell editors “what you absolutely can’t live without in (a) newspaper…with no choice but to produce a leaner print paper.”
If your answer to the question of what you can’t live without is “a Saturday newspaper,” forget about that. News publisher Alice Rogoff, who bought the Anchorage Daily News from the California-based McClatchy Company for $34 million in April 2014 in a good-faith effort to help save Alaska journalism, announced the death of the Saturday edition at the start of the year.
It appears other editions could now be on the chopping block.
“…As advertising and subscription revenue move online,” Monday’s “dear-valued-reader” message said, “it is necessary to scale our print product accordingly.”
The appeal was slightly odd that in this the Internet Age it required readers to rip out the ad and mail it back or deliver it to the Dispatch News office, and in that the tiny type in the request was sure to be hard to read for many regular newspaper subscribers who now skew heavily toward the geriatric set.
When the Pew Research Center for Journalism & Media last polled in 2015, 50 percent of those over 65 said they’d read a newspaper a day before and more than a third (38 percent) in the 55- to 64-age bracket were still regular readers.
Beyond that, the percentages quickly plummeted to 16 percent for people ages 18 to 24. Forty-two percent of the latter were regular newspaper readers when Pew started polling in 1999.