UPDATE: Read our full story here.
From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
Calista Corp., the Native corporation for the Bethel region, is shuttering and liquidating a chain of newspapers that serve rural Alaska.
Here's an announcement the Anchorage-based corporation just sent reporters. We'll update with more information as it becomes available:
Calista Corporation to Close Alaska Newspapers, Inc. Subsidiary
On July 22, at its second quarter meeting, the Calista Corporation's board of directors voted to shut down and liquidate Alaska Newspapers Inc., a Calista subsidiary for the past 19 years.
ANI encompasses six weekly rural papers including the multi-award winning Tundra Drums out of Bethel, the award winning quarterly magazine First Alaskans, as well as Camai Printing, a traditional printing house based in Anchorage.
The weekly newspapers also include Arctic Sounder, Bristol Bay Times, Cordova Times, Dutch Harbor Fisherman and Seward Phoenix Log. The publications have helped bring about change in rural Alaska by raising awareness of the disparities in health, water, sewer, energy, telecommunications and transportation infrastructure.
ANI newspapers have played a vitally important role in rural Alaska, covering more than 1,500 air miles of news - most of the towns and villages covered by the six newspapers are not accessible by road. With the increasing costs of fuel, paper and print technology, Calista has found the subsidiary is not supportive of the company's long-term financial interests.
"As a responsibility to our 12,000 shareholders, we had to take a hard look at the subsidiary and make a tough decision," said Calista President/CEO Andrew Guy. "ANI leaves behind an impressive legacy. We're very appreciative of the superb staff and extraordinary talent that have worked so hard to report on rural Alaska. We genuinely hope the communities affected by this will find a new media voice to tell their stories."
Calista will work with ANI employees to assist them with the transition and is offering preferential hiring for any job openings within the corporation they are qualified for. Additionally, Calista will be offering unemployment assistance counseling, severance packages and referral letters.
All ANI publications will print their final run in August.
"As we enter the second half of 2011, the corporation will continue to work in the best interest of our shareholders," said Calista Board Member Art Heckman. "Calista strives for greater shareholder value and prosperous business enterprises."
The second largest of the original 13 Alaska Native corporations, Calista Corporation was established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 and represents over 12,000 shareholders. The Calista region encompasses over 6.5 million acres and includes 56 villages, which are incorporated into 46 individual village corporations. Since 1994, Calista has provided more than $2.2 million in scholarships and since 2008 more than $12.2 million in dividends and distributions to its shareholders and descendants. Calista Corporation is the parent company of 15 subsidiaries, providing services ranging from telecommunications and marketing to construction and facility management. Calista can be found on Facebook (www.facebook.com/calistacorp) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/calistacorp).