The community newspaper in Skagway, Alaska has been bought by a Yukon company.
After 37 years at the helm, editor and publisher Jeff Brady sold The Skagway News to Alaska Travel Publications LLP, a subsidiary of PR Services of Whitehorse.
The company is most well known for producing brightly-coloured tourism guidebooks for the Yukon and surrounding areas.
They produce a publication called RV Yukon and just released the new RV Alaska this week.
They’re also responsible for most of the printing you’ll find aboard the White Pass railway trains.
“The idea of purchasing The Skagway News made sense to us in terms of further deepening our roots in the community – further deepening our roots in the state of Alaska,” said new owner Chris Sorg.
The price tag has not been made public.
Sorg and his partner Jan Aalt van den Hoorn are making a long-term commitment to the paper. The staff will stay the same. Even Brady is staying on board for the next year or so as a sort of “editor emeritus.”
The new editor will be former reporter and associate editor Elise Giordano.
“We’re committed to The Skagway News and we’re committed to it remaining the local institution that it is,” Sorg said.
The paper will look a little different when the first edition under new ownership comes out in the middle of May.
Improvements are also being made to the software used to lay things out, but Sorg said the company won’t have anything to do with the news part of the newspaper.
“In terms of the coverage, the editorial, we’ve really got nothing to do with it.”
Skagway News comes out twice a month and has a circulation of about 900 to 1,000 copies.
Brady started the paper right out of college in 1978. The name is an homage to a newspaper run in the community from 1897 to 1904.
Other papers had come and gone, but failed to create a lasting business, he said.
“Basically what drew me to Skagway at that time was that it was going through a lot of changes,” said Brady.
“It had survived kind of as a railway town after the gold rush but the highway was being built. Cruise ships were showing up on a more regular basis and I just saw Skagway as a really good opportunity for a start-up paper that could succeed.”
There were stumbles along the way – when the paper tried to be a weekly, and a three-year period when they were merged with the Haines newspaper – but eventually it found its footing.
It’s a small paper, but unlike larger ones, it has not lost readers over the years.
“I think we cover local news really well. Skagway is really small. Everyone you’re writing about, there’s a very good chance you’re going to see them during the course of the day,” Brady said.
It’s important that everyone knows what your job is, and that you do it fairly, he said. “If you do that, you’re going to be treated with respect and we have that.
“I wouldn’t say everybody’s in love with The Skagway News, but I’d say everyone’s glad it’s here.”
Brady said he doesn’t think that’s going to change with the new owners, especially since they already have a presence in the community.
Brady and his wife have five acres of land in the Dyea area where they’ve restored five old cabins they plan to use as writer residences next summer.
He also still runs the local bookstore and a small book publishing company.
“Hopefully I’ll have time to work on a novel I put on the shelf about 37 years ago.”
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