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Alaska Dispatch to buy Anchorage Daily News from McClatchy Co.

The McClatchy Co. announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to sell the Anchorage Daily News to Alaska Dispatch Publishing. The transaction is expected to close in May.

"The Anchorage Daily News is a profitable newspaper that makes us proud journalistically," said Pat Talamantes, McClatchy's president and CEO. "We weren't looking to sell the Daily News, but after Alaska Dispatch Publishing approached us, we saw advantages to local ownership in this case and opportunities for consolidation that would strengthen both news organizations."

The Daily News is the largest newspaper in Alaska, and adn.com is the most-read news site in the state.

"We are proud to return the Anchorage Daily News to Alaska ownership once again," said Alice Rogoff, owner of Anchorage-based Alaska Dispatch Publishing LLC, which publishes the AlaskaDispatch.com news website. "Across the country over the past few years, we've seen several daily newspapers successfully transition to local ownership. We look forward to working with the talented team at the Daily News to help build its future."

In a written statement, Rogoff said, "The Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Dispatch play vital roles in our great state. By merging these operations, we can serve as a stronger, even more comprehensive resource for Alaskans for their news and information. Our mission 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."

The $34 million purchase includes the newspaper, adn.com and the Daily News' building on Northway Drive in East Anchorage. After the purchase is finalized, the building will be sold to GCI., and the Daily News will be a tenant. Last year, GCI bought KTVA-Channel 11, and the station has been leased space in the building.

Daily News President and Publisher Pat Doyle and Daily News Senior Vice President and Editor Pat Dougherty are both retiring, company officials announced Tuesday.

Rogoff is publisher and chief executive of Alaska Dispatch Publishing and Tony Hopfinger, a former a Daily News reporter who co-founded Dispatch in 2008, is executive editor and president.

Bob Weil, McClatchy's vice president of operations, said the sale was in the best interest of Alaska.

"The decision to sell was based on a desire to enhance journalistic excellence in Alaska," Weil said. "The sale provides an opportunity for both organizations to be more successful over time and will build on their past successes, reaching a larger audience."

At the conclusion of the transaction, McClatchy will publish 29 daily newspapers, and their affiliated print and digital products in 28 U.S. markets in 14 states.

McClatchy acquired an 80 percent ownership stake in the Daily News in January 1979. It represented McClatchy's first publishing foray beyond California's Central Valley.

Over its history, the Anchorage Daily News established a reputation for journalism excellence, winning two Pulitzer Prizes for Public Service, in 1976 and 1989. In recent months, the Daily News added staff and content, and completed a redesign of the newspaper in December that included new sections and features.

Kevin McClatchy, the company's chairman, said, "This is a bittersweet moment for all of us at McClatchy. We are extremely proud of the Daily News and its employees, their exceptional service to Alaska's diverse communities and all of their contributions to McClatchy over the years. However, this sale not only makes sense from a local ownership perspective, but it also allows McClatchy to focus more resources on accelerating our digital transformation to better serve our communities."

Speaking to Daily News employees, Rogoff said her motivation in purchasing the newspaper was to expand coverage and audience, and that her attitude toward print has evolved.

"When we at the Alaska Dispatch say we've come to realize the value of a newspaper in print, you better believe we've come to realize it. We didn't start out that way. But as we got to know this marketplace and community better, it is obvious that print plays an enormous role in a lot of people's lives."

Alaska Dispatch was founded in 2008. In 2009, Rogoff, a longtime supporter of journalism and a former chief financial officer of U.S. News and World Report, became the majority owner of Alaska Dispatch LLC, and the operation expanded to employ writers, editors, and a full-time sales staff.

Anchorage Daily News / adn.com