Clock is ticking on Cordova’s 108-year-old newspaper

NVE in talks with new owner; Tribe hopes to hand off newspaper after July 8 edition

Bound volumes of The Cordova Times archives in the newsroom.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the original version that went to print after NVE officials confirmed a contract to transfer ownership of The Cordova Times with Rachel Kallander had been signed after press time.

This may be the penultimate edition of The Cordova Times. Native Village of Eyak has owned the 108-year-old newspaper since April 2016. Tribal Council announced in February of this year that owning the newspaper no longer fit with the Tribe’s long-term goals.

“We decided that we had far too many things spreading us too thin and have a hope that others can take up the project of saving The Cordova Times as we have for the past few years,” NVE Tribal Council Chair Mark Hoover said in February. “We are open to any proposals and will work with any group that may be interested.”

NVE announced it would accept proposals to be considered for ownership of The Cordova Times until May 1 with hopes of announcing a new owner by June 1. NVE officials say they have been in discussions with Rachel Kallander of Cordova for her to take ownership of the paper after the July 8 edition.

While no contract had been signed as of press time for the July 1 edition, NVE officials confirmed it was signed after the print edition went to press this week. Kallander intends to publish a letter to readers in the July 8 edition outlining the transition plan and what the community can expect.

Tribal Council voted in late May to continue publishing until the July 8 edition in hopes to have a transition plan in effect by that date, according to NVE Deputy Director Brooke Mallory.

“It is an award-winning newspaper and has a steady and dedicated readership,” Council vice chair Sylvia Lange said in February when NVE announced the change. “This is an opportune time for someone with ink in their veins to take on a wonderful flagship paper, work with a great staff, and call it their own. I dearly hope we can accomplish that.”

Like many newspapers across the state and nationwide, the publication has changed hands several times in the past and continues to struggle in a changing media climate.

NVE purchased the paper in April 2016 from Jennifer Gibbins. Gibbins saved the newspaper from demise in 2011 after Alaska Newspapers, Inc. liquidated its magazine and six weekly newspapers, among them, The Cordova Times.

“With this issue, I am pleased to announce that the ownership of the paper is transferring to — what I hope will be a ‘forever home’ for The Cordova Times — the Native Village of Eyak,” Gibbins wrote in the April 22, 2016, edition of the newspaper. “I wish to express my profound gratitude to NVE for taking on this challenging role of stewardship.”

Five years later, NVE hopes to pass the baton of ownership and focus on other projects.

“As printed material began to take a hit and newspapers began closing across the country NVE had to face the fact that we would be subsidizing the costs with little to no chance of even breaking even,” Hoover said. “It was a difficult decision to make, but (we were) considering the other large-ticket projects we are working with the city on, such as ensuring physical, mental and dental healthcare going into the future as well as completing the Oil Spill Response we have been involved with for the past 20 years.”

The newspaper was named Best Weekly in 2019 and 2020 by Alaska Press Club, Alaska’s statewide journalism and media network. Alaska Press Club awarded the newspaper second place in that category for 2021. The Cordova Times also won first place in the category of Best Comprehensive Coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic for a series of articles by editor Zachary Snowdon Smith and fisheries reporter Margaret Bauman published in 2020.

“I wanted to read this paper more,” wrote award judge Brian McCrone. “Be proud of this service.”

Editor & Publisher Magazine recognized the NVE and newspaper with an honorary mention in its March edition among news publishers to watch.

“With a digital readership that often eclipses the population of Cordova by ten-fold, The Cordova Times covers local news, city government, community features, commercial fisheries, environmental news, arts, science, history and Alaskan culture,” E&P editor Robin Blinder wrote. “This newspaper, owned by the Native Village of Eyak since 2016, regularly publishes news that leads to meaningful discussions, change and positive growth across Alaska.”

Share your Cordova Times memories

While there isn’t a firm transition plan in place yet, we would like to celebrate our 108-year legacy of publishing news in Cordova news for NVE’s farewell edition. Readers, advertisers, past paper kids, and current and past staff and contributors are invited to share memories of the newspaper in the July 8 edition. Email submissions up to 300 words and photos honoring The Cordova Times legacy to share@thecordovatimes.com by noon on Tuesday, July 5, for consideration.

Advertisers, please email advertising@thecordovatimes.com to update your ad or place a new one for the July 8 edition.

What’s next?

Look for more information about the newspaper’s future in the July 8 edition.


This article was written by The Cordova Times editor and designer Annette Potter. Potter has been with the newspaper since 2010. Reach her at apotter@thecordovatimes.com.