Thursday, January 05, 2017

Three startups in Alaska show demand continues for local news about rural, urban communities

Dec. 28, 2016 edition
Community newspapering appears to be alive and well in Alaska. The state has a trio of startup newspapers that are going head-to-head with established publications, Jeannette Lee Falsey reports for Alaska Dispatch News (formerly the Anchorage Daily News), itself born from community papers. "Newspaper rivalries were once part of the fabric of cities across America, including Anchorage. But between 2004 and 2014, more than a hundred papers folded or were absorbed by former foes, turning even major cities, like Seattle, into one-newspaper towns."

Marc Donadieu started the Glacier City Gazette, a 12-page, full-color newspaper published on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, after he was laid off from his job as an adjunct writing instructor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, Falsey reports. The Gazette competes in the small market with Donadieu's ex-employer, the Turnagain Times, a "legacy paper for scoops and advertising dollars in the ski hamlet of Girdwood and nearby communities" on the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet.

ECHO at an Eagle River coffee
shop (ADN photo by Marc Lester)
The Eagle River Chugiak Herald Observer (branded as ECHO News), a weekly that began publishing in the fall, is owned by an Anchorage-based company. Amy Armstrong, the newspaper's managing editor, was hired away from the competition, The Alaska Star, where she had worked since 1999, Falsey reports. Another publication, the Eagle, owned by an Arizona company, also has begun publishing in the area northeast of Anchorage.

Falsey writes, "In Alaska, community newspapers publish a mix of hyper-local and some statewide coverage, and are available, usually for free, at coffee shops and other businesses. For Girdwood and Eagle River, both communities unto themselves within the Municipality of Anchorage, the papers aim to inform people about daily goings-on that, while not necessarily remarkable, are nonetheless important to fostering the connections that underpin civic life."

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