By: Joe Strupp
The Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News plans to cancel a half-page editorial section that had given space to the former publisher of the defunct Anchorage Times after he pleaded guilty this week to federal bribery and conspiracy charges.
In a story posted Thursday, the Daily News announced the editorial page, which had been provided since the Times folded in 1992, would cease at the end of May. Bill Allen, former Times publisher and current chairman and chief executive of Veco, had overseen the space, the Daily News reported.
Following Allen’s guilty plea on Monday, which stems from an FBI corruption investigation that has resulted in indictments of four veteran state legislators, Daily News officials chose to end the relationship, the paper said. “We believe the arrangement added to diversity of debate and discussion in Alaska, but have intended for some time to move beyond it to embrace an even greater range of opinions,” Daily News Publisher Mike Sexton said in the story.
The story went on to say, “when the Times ceased operations, the Daily News agreed to an almost unprecedented arrangement: to keep alive the editorial viewpoint of the Times by giving Allen a half page a day facing the lead page of the Daily News editorial section. Allen was free to publish his opinions without interference from the Daily News,” according to the paper.
The paper noted that the initial contract between the Times and News was for 10 years, until 2002. The contract was extended for five years, through May 2007.
While Sexton did not say the guilty plea played a role in the decision to drop the editorial half-page, a statement he issued earlier this week said, “Like all Alaskans, we deplore the corruption of state government and were deeply disappointed to learn these details.”
Wednesday afternoon, editors of the Times’ page issued a statement that indicated its views might return elsewhere. “Our days as part of the newsprint industry are ending,” the Daily News reported the statement saying. “But The Voice of The Times will live on.”