- Guestpost by Patrick –
The Anchorage Daily News, as mentioned in my previous guestpost here on Palingates, seem to have a monopolistic status in Alaska, as no serious competition in the print sector in Alaska is apparent.
Furthermore, the ADN has a proud history. Wikipedia tells us: “The newspaper has won the Pulitzer Price twice in the "Public Service" category, in 1976 and 1989. No other Alaska newspaper has ever won a Pulitzer.“
But times for newspapers are hard these days. The virtual world is taking over. The ADN clearly took a beating recently, as the paper admitted in a recent story titled “ADN announces staff, pay cuts”, and reported:
“The Daily News will cut its work force and reduce wages as part of a major nationwide effort by its owner, the McClatchy Co., to cut $110 million in expenses to offset declining advertising revenue, Patrick Doyle, the newspaper's publisher, told employees in a letter Thursday.
This will be the third round of staff reductions at the newspaper in 10 months and is symptomatic of an industry-wide crisis threatening to sink newspapers across the country.
Staffing at the Daily News will drop by 45 people, or about 17 percent, through a combination of buyouts, layoffs and the elimination of vacant positions, Doyle said. Seven of the jobs eliminated were the result of new, more efficient production equipment.”
These developments did not go unnoticed. As we learned from the email exchange between Sarah Palin and ADN editor Pat Dougherty concerning the “investigations” into the “babygate rumors”, clever Sarah had a fine nose for the current situation and remarked:
Thank you for your patience in awaiting my response. I do hope for nothing but the best for our local newspaper in these trying economic times that have hit your parent company.”
Pat Dougherty in return gave a curious response to this remark:
As you suggest, these are tough times for newspapers. Having a bunch of conspiracy nuts denouncing the Daily News for hiding your secret just adds to the overall happy ambience.”
So...what’s the deal here?
We decided to look a bit deeper into this.
What we found was quite surprising, to say the least, although I am not sure whether Pat Dougherty would share this view. But judge for yourself:
The State of Alaska makes no secret of its expenses. Therefore, according to the golden rule “follow the money”, we thought it would do no harm to check whether the ADN might be in a “mutually beneficial relationship” with the people they are supposed to have a “watchful eye” on – the administration and government of the State of Alaska.
The result of our research astounded us.
For example, between July 1, 2007 and August 31, 2008, the ADN received the following payments from the State of Alaska:
a. $ 427,386 for “Advertising”
b. $ 250,768 for “Print/Copy/Graphics”
In total, the ADN received more than $ 681,086 for “Advertising, Print/Copy/Graphics and Subscriptions” from the State of Alaska during this period, and the Governor’s office alone advertised with the ADN for the amount of $35,339.
This is certainly not pocket money that we are talking about here.
This report (“checkbook online”) can be downloaded here:
The main competitor of the ADN, the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer, received a considerably lower amount during this period: Around $ 147,407.
In the following financial year, from July 1, 2008 to August 31, 2009, the payments for the ADN were only slightly less and amounted to more than $ 640,349 (including $ 20,783 from the Governor’s office).
Government advertising in newspapers is of course common practice. However, around the world, government advertising is also recognized as a source of conflict between newspapers who are dependent on these revenues, and governments who use those funds to favor “friendly” media outlets or punish overly critical ones – for example in Canada, Latin America, Pakistan, Russia and even Bermuda.
The point I am trying to make here is that Palin in her New Year exchange with Pat Dougherty specifically seems to want to remind him that his parent company is in trouble; the implication being that they need all the money that they can get from advertising etc. She does so in an exchange which she initiated when she wrote to him complaining about the way in which she was portrayed in the ADN and the fact that the ADN had initiated an investigation into Trig's birth. Does that seem wrong to you? It does to me.
Therefore, the question seems justified: How independent can a newspaper be when in incredibly difficult economic times the State of Alaska is such a major customer, probably even their largest advertiser? What thinking process might be initiated in an editor’s mind when the Governor drops such a hint in an email conversation? Will this increase his willingness to pursue the “persistent rumors” about the Governor’s alleged faked pregancy?
I think not.
Pat Dougherty, as is his prerogative, might disagree, however, I would still be interested to hear his answer to my question.
I would like to conclude with two observations that readers of my previous guestpost here on Palingates have sent to me (to my email: email@example.com).
A reader from Texas wrote:
“The wording of Pat Dougherty’s denial does not reassure me that the ADN has never been threatened to be sued by Governor Palin. Rather, all he is denying is that the ADN has never been threatened to be sued for something that ADN has never published. After all, if no story was published, of COURSE there would be no party with any standing to sue for something that is non-existent! He didn't deny that SP threatened to sue the paper IF it ran a story or stories about a possible faked pregnancy.”
A practising corporate attorney from Florida wrote:
“I agree that rumors are not facts. But Mr. Dougherty should also agree that his failure to pursue the answers to questions raised by hard factual evidence is mediocre journalism at best. Some might even suggest that such failure is a passive cover-up ("We don't want the answers, because they may well force us to change our preconceived viewpoint regarding Trig's parentage, which admittedly is not "evidence-based," but which is based solely upon a self-serving, unverified and an uncorroborated assertion by Sarah Palin.")
Does the Alaska Daily News publication really want to serve its customers with truthful and factual reporting, or is that merely lip-service? My prediction is the historical record will prove that is not a rhetorical question.”
Our investigation continues. As I said in a previous comment on Palingates, either Sarah Palin is exonerated after providing solid evidence, or she is guilty. At the moment she is neither, because the Alaskan media refuses to investigate a major political scandal which is lying in front of them. This doesn’t satisfy. A resolution is needed, and in my heart I know that Pat Dougherty is aware of this, too.