The Homer Tribune has new owners as well as a new look. The weekly newspaper is issuing a print edition again right in time for its 25th Anniversary this August.
Jason Evans says, although he and his wife own two other newspapers, they were not in the market for a new one.
“We weren’t actually looking for newspapers, but we do have some talented staff that live in Homer and so it was a natural to pick up the Homer Tribune and start publishing it as well,” said Evans.
Evans, along with his wife Kiana Peacock, owns Alaska Media LLC, the company that recently bought The Homer Tribune. The company already publishes two other weekly community newspapers— the Arctic Sounder and the Bristol Bay Times – Dutch Harbor Fisherman.
The Tribune stopped publishing its paper edition on June 8 and went to a web-only version. Shortly thereafter Evans and Peacock picked it up. Evans says they want to maintain the local, community flavor of the paper.
“We feel it is important to have community voices in a newspaper and did not want tosee that newspaper go away,” said Evans.
Evans says the Tribune will continue its online version along with a printed edition.
“Online is a really active and important piece of the puzzle, especially in today’s day and age. But we feel a printed paper is also really important. It is something that people can take with them to their camps. They can cut out photos and hang them on their refrigerator. As a weekly paper we feel like a print edition is still critical to the success of it and also adds to the community,” said Evans.
Evans is Alaska Native, Inupiaq, originally from Nome. He says highlighting Alaska Native voices in rural parts of the state is important to the company. He hopes the Tribune will dedicate more coverage to the Native communities on the southern Kenai Peninsula.
Longtime Tribune owner and publisher, Jane Pascall is working with the paper for a couple more months during the transition to help primarily with advertising. She says she is very pleased with the sale.
“I’m excited and thrilled because we can celebrate our 25th anniversary this month, my employees will have a job –they are getting their jobs back, and Homer will be able to read The Tribune again. So I couldn’t be happier,” said Pascall.
Jim Hornaday started the Homer Tribune in 1991. Pascall first worked as a salesperson, but purchased the paper in 1992.
Pascall says she sold the paper because she’s now focusing on a new restaurant business and preparing to become a grandmother. She says she’s confident that Alaska Media will do a good job.
“I think that Homer’s different from the rest of Alaska and I think they understand that. With Carey Restino being the editor and the main reporter –she’s been here for many years. She’s written for me, she understands the community,” said Pascall.
Carey Restino has been in the reporting and editing business for years. She first arrived in Homer in 1993 and studied journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage before taking a job for the Homer News as a general assignment reporter. In 2004, she took the position of editor for the Homer Tribune, where she worked for several years. She continued to write freelance articles for the Tribune, while also working as the editor of Alaska Media’s other newspapers in 2011. She says her passion is community journalism.
“Real community focused –what happens in an elementary school is just as important as what goes on in a city council meeting and ultimately you are responsible to the community that you are serving,” said Restino.
At a local grocery store, issues of the new Tribune are flying of the racks.
That’s where I found Jan Knutson, Visitor Center/Events Coordinator for the Homer Chamber of Commerce. She says having the Tribune back in print is good for both the businesses her office serves and for visitors.
“We’re just really pleased that its back in print again. It’s very accessible to locals and visitors alike,” said Knutson.
The Tribune got a redesign –a cleaner look with more white space and other style changes that bring it in line with the company’s other papers.
Another change that Alaska Media has made is switching the day that the Tribune comes out, from Wednesday to Thursday. That’s the same day that the town’s other weekly newspaper, the Homer News, is issued. Knutson says that’s good.
“Yes it may be rare to have two newspapers in each town but business competition is good. Some people prefer the tribune, some prefer the Homer News, some of us prefer to have access to both newspapers,” said Knutson.
Evans, the owner and publisher, says more news sources will be better for residents.
“You know I think place like Homer is really lucky to have two papers. It is hard for a community weekly to catch everything that happens in these dynamic communities like Homer and having two papers and more reporters and then a really great radio station as well, writing and creating news for the community –I think just really adds to the community in the long-term and so I think there is a good fit for two papers and we are happy to be one of them,” said Evans.
The Tribune plans to maintain a content-sharing agreement with Alaska Dispatch News, the state’s largest newspaper. The parties have not disclosed the purchase price.