ANCHORAGE — More than two months after it was purchased by an online competitor, Alaska’s largest newspaper will undergo a name change with Sunday’s edition.
The Anchorage Daily News will officially become Alaska Dispatch News. Publisher Alice Rogoff and Editor Tony Hopfinger outlined that and other changes to advertisers during an outdoor luncheon Friday.
Rogoff said the intent is to have an emphasis on statewide news.
She said the old Daily News was “highly Anchorage centric, filled with a lot of wire copy, national and international news,” and it will now evolve into a statewide publication.
“It wasn’t easy for us to decide to change the name,” Rogoff said. “This is a legacy, valuable brand with a tremendous amount of history.”
Hopfinger said he had great respect for the Anchorage Daily News, and he moved to Alaska in 1999 to work there as a business reporter. He said he heard the stories of the newspaper war with the now-defunct Anchorage Times, and the Daily News’ Pulitzer Prizes.
But in the next decade, he saw the paper shrink — to the point where it was almost “a brochure,” he said.
That was part of the decision to start the online Alaska Dispatch. “There were so many stories going untold,” Hopfinger said.
Hopfinger started the Alaska Dispatch 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 Anchorage Daily News’ printed edition has a daily circulation of 57,622, and 71,233 on Sundays.
The newspaper was first printed Jan. 13, 1946. Two years later, it went from being printed weekly to six days a week, and it added Sunday editions in 1949.
In 1979, McClatchy Newspapers bought 80 percent of the Anchorage Daily News, which had a heated rivalry with the Anchorage Times until the Anchorage Times went out of business in 1992.
The Anchorage Daily News won Pulitzer Prizes for public service in 1976 and 1989.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing LLC, the parent company of the online newspaper the Alaska Dispatch, purchased the Anchorage Daily News from McClatchy for $34 million earlier this year. The newspaper’s new name fits with the use of the newspaper’s established online address, adn.com, for the combined website.
“The brand ADN is how people started referring to the Anchorage Daily News over the last 15 years, and that’s the brand that seemed the one we really wanted to hold on to,” Tony Hopfinger said.
The name change also reflects the renewed emphasis on statewide news. “I wanted the naming of the paper to scream Alaska,” he said.
Rogoff announced the newspaper will have the equivalent of bureaus across the state “as soon as we can make it happen.”
Tony Hopfinger said the southwest Alaska hub community of Bethel would likely be the first, followed by Nome on the Bering Sea coast and then Barrow, the nation’s northernmost city.
The Alaska Dispatch News already has reporters in Fairbanks and Juneau besides Anchorage.
He said circulation numbers have improved since the Dispatch’s 10 reporters were combined with the Daily News staff in May.
“People are getting excited about the paper,” he said.
The Sunday magazine, “We Alaskans,” also will return, beginning this weekend.
“Things like ‘We Alaskans,’ bringing that back, those are the gems the old Anchorage Daily News was known for,” Hopfinger said. “So we’re taking the best pieces of both organizations and combining them together.”
Among other changes will be changing the name of the Life section to Culture, and moving that from Sundays to Fridays. The entertainment section Play will also move from Fridays to Thursdays to allow people more time to plan their weekends.