ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An online competitor announced plans Tuesday to buy Alaska's largest daily newspaper.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing LLC, the parent company of the online newspaper the Alaska Dispatch, will purchase the Anchorage Daily News from The McClatchy Co. for $34 million. The sale is expected to close in May.
"This is a chance for us to get even more reporters on the ground and do more journalism," said Tony Hopfinger, Alaska Dispatch's co-founder, executive editor and president.
"The Anchorage Daily News and the Alaska Dispatch play vital roles in our great state," Dispatch publisher Alice Rogoff said in a statement. "By merging these operations, we can serve as a stronger, even more comprehensive resource for Alaskans for their news and information."
She said the goal of the merged operations is to "offer a level of coverage never before seen in Alaska history, and to offer it to readers across the state through a variety of mediums."
Hopfinger started the online newspaper in 2008 with Amanda Coyne and Todd Hopfinger. In 2009, Rogoff, wife of financier David Rubenstein and a former chief financial officer of U.S. News and World Report, became the majority owner.
The Daily News' printed edition has a daily circulation of 57,622, and 71,233 on Sundays.
Plans are to integrate the two websites — www.alaskadispatch.com and www.adn.com — into one site within six months. Tony Hopfinger said the printed newspaper will continue to be printed seven days a week, and there are no plans at this juncture to change the paper's name.
There also are no changes planned to staffs at either site, beyond the publisher and editor of the Anchorage Daily News retiring, he said.
It will take time once they take possession of the newspaper to meet with Daily News staff and begin merging the two staffs into one.
"Obviously, we're the smaller staff, and we're hoping that everybody will want to work together and do this in the spirit of producing a better product that what the Dispatch has to offer or the Anchorage Daily News."
The Anchorage Daily News was first printed Jan. 13, 1946. Two years later, it went from being printed weekly to six days a week, and added Sunday editions in 1949.
In 1979, McClatchy Newspapers bought 80 per cent of the Anchorage Daily News, which had a heated rivalry with another daily newspaper, the Anchorage Times, until it went out of business in 1992.
The Anchorage Daily News won Pulitzer Prizes for public service in 1976 and 1989.
"The Anchorage Daily News already has a long, storied path in journalism here, and it's a good operation that fits with what we're doing already," Tony Hopfinger said, adding the paper also had an established client and subscriber base.
Rogoff saw the opportunity to merge the two operations "and do even better journalism," he said.
The upside of the merged staffs is that they no longer will be spending time chasing the same story, and this will allow reporters to write enterprising, investigative stories.
Tony Hopfinger plans to re-establish a Washington, D.C.-based reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, and aspires to have fulltime reporters based in Alaska hub communities.
The purchase includes the newspaper, its website and the newspaper's property and operations in Anchorage.
The Dispatch intends to sell the real estate holdings to a local buyer, and the newspaper will continue to be housed in its current location in East Anchorage as a tenant.
The sale of the Anchorage Daily News comes after other high-profile newspaper purchases lately.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post last year for $250 million.
Billionaire Warren Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns 31 small- and medium-sized daily newspapers. It has bought most of those newspapers since 2011 at bargain prices. Including weekly papers and other publications, Berkshire owns 70 newspapers.