‘Pretty much our hometown voice’ – Homer residents mourn loss of local newspaper

The Homer Spit on Kachemak Bay. (Photo from the KBBI database)

The Homer Tribune, one of the city’s two newspapers, delivered its last edition Thursday after more than two decades of printing. City residents are mourning its loss. 

“It’s all local news,” said resident Lance Prouce while flipping through the last edition. “It’s about the election, the charging station, them stopping [publication]. I mean, it’s Bristol Bay fishermen, it’s about fishing. It’s the stuff that affects us right here.”

Prouce was standing inside Captain’s Coffee, a local coffee shop that he owns. He said they sell about eight to 10 issues of the paper every week.  He knew that print was struggling but was surprised to read that the Tribune was shutting down.

“I think it’s a sad thing,” he said. “This is pretty much our own hometown voice.”

It’s the news that he goes to and that he has a connection with. He said he was about to pitch the paper a story about coffee, before it shut down. 

He points to the picture of the last day of the Farmer’s Market, and said the newspaper’s local coverage was unique. 

“I think just like that picture on the front, the gals holding the pressure cooker,” he said. “You’re not going to see those, that’s not going to be in any other paper. That only appeals to us because we live here. That’s the part that’s going to be missing.”

Alaska Media LLC used to own the paper but sold it to Anchorage Daily News LLC earlier this year. The Tribune announced in its paper Thursday morning that it was ceasing publication. The announcement said it was a difficult decision.

The article quoted Anchorage Daily News President Ryan Binkley saying, “hyper-local printed newspapers like the Homer Tribune are becoming less viable. We intend to continue meeting our readers online at adn.com.”

Binkley did not respond to a request for comment. 

Tommy Wells was the editor of the paper. He said he isn’t surprised that the paper was shutting down. 

“Advertising revenue for weekly newspapers has been down, not only in Homer, but everywhere,” he said. “I think that the powers that be above us looked at it and they made a business decision.” 

Wells used to live in Homer but moved to Texas a couple of months ago. He and the director of sales and marketing were the only full-time staff at the publication. But the paper employed numerous local writers.

“We did a great job of covering what we did,” Wells said. “It was just that added feature that you might not get in both papers, but you might find something in one that you liked. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Last year, the newspaper won first place for best weekly paper at the Alaska Press Club’s annual award ceremony. 

“I was proud of every issue in some way,” he said. “Some were better than others, but at the same time, I think that anytime you can bring the news to the people and that’s what all of us want to do, whether you’re in the radio business or the newspaper business, you want to get as much news as you can out to the people so they can be informed.”

He said he’s glad the community will still be served by one other newspaper and the local radio station.