WHEREBY WE REVEAL OUR STATS
Today marks the fifth anniversary of Must Read Alaska, which started as a Monday political newsletter to about 200 Alaska conservatives, and now is a three-times-weekly newsletter with over 11,800 subscribers, and a daily news website that receives more than 10,000 visits a day.
This project was built originally to keep the mainstream media in Alaska on its toes. That is still one of its purposes, but it also is here to inform people about politics and current events in Alaska.
Readers will recall that five years ago, the Anchorage Daily News was owned by wealthy East Coaster Alice Rogoff, who had helped install Gov. Bill Walker. She had renamed it the Alaska Dispatch. Her connection to the governor was tight, and she was operating the newspaper like a branch of the Alaska Democratic Party. The ADN has always been a liberal newspaper, but now it was over the top.
The public walked with their dollars and their feet. Many conservative Alaskans were clambering for another newspaper, like the old Anchorage Times. Discussions were underway among business leaders for how to finance such an enterprise.
This editor, who comes from a newspaper background, said “no.” The path forward is different in today’s world. Print is not viable as a business model and newspapers, as a rule, are a poor investment. Must Read Alaska would start a news website to punch back at the liberal-dominated media.
By 2017, Must Read Alaska was three years and counting, with the website up and running, and the newsletter expanded to three days a week.
Meanwhile, the ADN was in bankruptcy court in 2017. Rogoff wasn’t paying her bills and stiffed many small Alaska businesses. The Binkley family bought new newspaper for pennies on the dollar and have tried to keep it afloat for the past two and a half years.
Must Read Alaska documented the decline of the Rogoff and Walker empires during those years.
(Interestingly, the ADN has recently moved to a donation model. In a recent series of notes from the editor, readers are directed to donate money to a nonprofit 501(c)(3), and the money they donate there will be funneled back to the ADN.)
Other news organizations in Alaska have shrunk as well — the NewsMiner is a shadow of its former self and is owned by a charitable foundation, and the Juneau Empire has a shaky future, with its parent company downsizing.
Must Read Alaska is still one person, with help from columnists like Art Chance, Win Gruening, and occasional others, and some content creators who help from time to time build ads for advertisers and graphics for stories. MRAK runs very lean, and counts on the help of hundreds of readers who chip in financially every week, and who send in tips and comments. Recently, MRAK owes a debt of gratitude to Alaskan John Quick, who has been working on developing the business end of the MRAK project, to keep it afloat.
DATA POINTS – THE BIG REVEAL
Must Read Alaska website reached over 9 million views this month, and is on track for 10 million views next month. The editor has approved and posted more than 35,000 reader comments (those that take too much editing just get round-filed at this point).
Here are some of the stats for the site as compared to mainstream media outlets in Alaska:
TOP STORIES OF ALL TIME
The winner for all-time views is the column that editor Suzanne Downing wrote in January, 2020, titled: “New decade: The Next Roaring Twenties?” Little did we know that the Roaring Twenties would come to an abrupt end before it even started, and that the world would start circling the drain by February.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
This news project has always been about Alaskans and Alaska, our future as a state, and keeping the media honest. We can’t backslide or be deluded into thinking the media will ever be fair to conservatives in Alaska. And the damage done to our state during the Rogoff-Walker years will be with us for a long time.
You can help MRAK with your donations, with your news tips, and by letting advertisers know that Must Read Alaska is a great value. The truth is, MRAK depends upon people who decide this project needs to continue.
Your donations help pay for outside contracted help that keeps the website functional, and fixes it when it breaks. They help pay for the web tools needed to publish the newsletter, and the research and travel to cover the state from Fairbanks to Ketchikan.
Today, to celebrate the fifth anniversary, MRAK launched a new feature on the front page that we’re calling “Featured Videos.” Scroll on over there after you’re finished here, and see the video clips. Keep an eye on that spot as MRAK rolls out some new features in the next few weeks.
Finally, thank you to all who have contributed their time and treasure to making MRAK a valuable resource for our future. Here’s to the next five years of keeping the mainstream media on its toes!