Peninsula Clarion reduced to weekly printing amid cost-cutting measures

a picket
Everett Daily Herald workers and their supporters picket during a one-day walkout Monday, June 24, 2024, in Everett, Wash. (Courtesy Ryan Berry/Everett NewsGuild)

The new parent company of the central Kenai Peninsula’s newspaper, the Peninsula Clarion, is reducing the paper to just once-a-week printing. That shift is happening as the company makes cost-cutting decisions at other publications, including massive layoffs at one of its largest papers.

The Clarion, along with the Homer News and Juneau Empire, is owned by Washington-based Sound Publishing. Sound’s parent company, Canadian Black Press Media, filed for creditor protection to avoid bankruptcy in January and was bought by Mississippi’s Carpenter Media Group. That deal went through in March.

a printing press
The A-section of the weekend edition, the last to run on the Peninsula Clarion’s press. (Courtesy M. Scott Moon)

In an announcement posted to its website Saturday, the company said the Clarion will reduce from printing twice a week to just once. The last Wednesday paper will be released this week, the final Saturday paper will be on July 6, and from then on the Clarion will come out on Fridays.

According to the announcement, Sound and Carpenter made the decision after “careful thought and in recognition of a local and national media landscape that has seen changes in how both advertising and news content are consumed.”

Sound Publishing President Josh O’Connor did not respond to requests for comment, and the Clarion’s editor declined to comment.

But cost-cutting changes aren’t unique to the Clarion. The Seattle Times reported last Tuesday that Carpenter would lay off 62 employees across its newspapers in Washington state. On Wednesday, layoffs came for the Everett Daily Herald, Sound’s flagship paper located north of Seattle.

Aina de Lapparent Alvarez is a general assignment reporter at the Herald, and one of the 12 employees laid off last week.

“This is not about how much you’ve poured and sacrificed for this paper and this community, or how much your work has impacted positively the community or how many awards you’ve won,” she said. “This is about other things.”

Carpenter also laid off two editors, including Local News Editor Caleb Hutton. He’s been with the paper for almost seven years, and when the layoffs were announced, he worked with two remaining reporters on a story about the situation. In it, the Herald’s publisher Rudi Alcott is quoted saying “operations are not going to change much. The readers won’t notice.”

Hutton said that’s unlikely.

“We’ve been really proud for a long time of the fact that our front page is all local. So that’s three stories a day, if not four stories a day,” he said. “I don’t know, I think it would be really hard to do that, to do really quality work, stories that take a little bit more time, and do that on a daily basis.”

He and de Lapparent Alvarez both said the paper will struggle to adequately serve the community of more than 800 thousand people with such a reduced staff.

“There’s no way they’ll be able to do ambitious stories,” de Lapparent Alvarez said. “There’s just no way. And then the community will lose.”

a picket
Everett Daily Herald workers and their supporters picket during a one-day walkout Monday, June 24, 2024, in Everett, Wash. (Courtesy Ryan Berry/Everett NewsGuild)

The morning after it went up, Hutton says the publisher took down the Herald’s story about its own layoffs. He and other editors threatened to quit, and compromised on a new version of the story, which was republished with an edited lede and comments from Carpenter.

On Sunday, members of the union that represents Herald reporters announced plans to strike. Monday, they picketed outside the office, many holding signs saying readers have noticed.

Union members who were laid off from the Herald will remain at the paper in the short term as the guild bargains for the terms of their severance with the parent company.

The Peninsula Clarion published five days a week until spring 2023, when Sound announced that it would cut down the schedule to two days and moved printing off site. That change also affected the Juneau Empire, although the paper is currently maintaining a twice-weekly schedule.

The Clarion will continue to publish stories daily on its website, according to Saturday’s announcement. The first Friday paper will come out July 12. The Clarion is also advertising an open reporter position.

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