The Alaska Dispatch News late Saturday night announced that it has new owners and will begin reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The owners are the children of Fairbanks businessman and rumored Republican gubernatorial candidate John Binkley, led by Ryan Binkley, and Alaska Media LLC owner Jason Evans.
The state’s largest newspaper has faced increasingly difficult financial, legal and operational problems that have culminated with months of rumor about owner Alice Rogoff’s search for a buyer or new investors. The Midnight Sun reported Friday night that the Binkley family was interested in the paper and that a purchase could include filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The move allows the company broad flexibility to rework its debt and escape contracts, so expect whatever outlet emerges from this to look a fair bit different.
“We need to get in there, get to know everybody, understand how the organization is put together,” Ryan Binkley told the ADN. “We’ve got to find efficiencies, but no, we don’t have any specific plans yet.”
The news came a day after GCI filed a lawsuit that amounted to an eviction notice for building that housed the ADN’s printing press over more than a million dollars in unpaid bills and fines. The lawsuit outlined years of trouble for the newspaper under Rogoff’s ownership. Rogoff bought the Anchorage Daily News in 2014 and merged it with The Alaska Dispatch, assuming ownership of the combined outlet.
In a letter posted to the ADN, Rogoff said the change was “bittersweet.”
“Financial realities can’t be wished away. Fortunately, our legal system provides a mechanism for reorganizing the company, bringing in new capital, and keeping it going through the transition,” she wrote. “That is what we are doing. In placing the Dispatch under the jurisdiction of the courts through Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, the newspaper will continue doing what it does best. It will emerge from the process in a short time, able to navigate these challenging economic times in a stronger position.”
There’s currently no official word about what the restructuring will look like, but there’s talk it could be a much smaller operation.