Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stories must be told. People must be heard.

I've spend the last year designing editorial, ads, collateral, making graphics and doing the occasional commercial print design for Alaska Newspapers, First Alaskans magazine and Camai Printing. On Friday, our parent corporation announced they will be closing the doors to this company on August 31. The board voted to liquidate the entire operation in the interest of it's Native shareholders.

Here's the ADN story.

While I was stunned but the news, I wasn't surprised by the decision. This is a difficult time for publications everywhere and, really, a difficult time for any kind of business. Most of us were not blindsided by the announcement.

I only have good things to say about the employees here and the work they do. I would personally vouch for each and every one of the great journalists and business people here who chose the road less traveled and in some cases, the location you cannot reach by road at all. Our in-boxes and voice mails have been flooded with condolences, offers for support and sadness for the loss of the service we provide rural Alaska.

I truly believe in community journalism and the mission of the rural newspaper chain. We were telling the stories of people who otherwise might not have their stories told. Printing newspapers for people that might not read the news elsewhere online. Some of our papers reached places where internet service can be slow and unreliable. Our magazine was truly one-of-a-kind, covering business, culture and lifestyle of Alaska Natives. The only publication dedicated to that community's stories. Stories that are numerous and important to this state.

I wonder who will tell these stories in the future. Who will bring news to the most remote corners of Alaska where print is not only still alive, but loved in a way you don't see everywhere?

The company has offered tremendous of support to the nearly 40 employees who will be searching for work. Severance packages, unemployment counseling, resume critiquing and use of company time to attend job interviews.

I am circling my resume through the local media industry and am feeling optimistic. I cannot thank my friends, family, and colleagues past and present who have called to offer their support and encouragement during this time of questions and confusion. I also hope to pick up some more freelance work during any interim to help bridge any gap in employment.

I feel greatly for all my friends and colleagues in newspapers who have experiences layoffs or closures of their companies. This is not enough to shake my values or devotion to this career I love. I still believe in community journalism and print newspapers. I hope to see new or replacement ventures spring up to replace the need for news and information in these communities. Stories must be told. People must be heard.

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