In an age when online news sources far outnumber America’s humble small-town printed papers, a new Kenai Peninsula newspaper has just rolled off the press.
Founded by journalist Jenny Neyman, 28, a former Peninsula Clarion editor, the Redoubt Reporter is a new 12-page weekly circulating the Central Kenai Peninsula.
“I knew it was a risk,” Neyman said of the paper. “But as I researched, I found it seems to be mostly the large corporate chains that have the biggest problems. They are trying to offer too much to a readership that doesn’t necessarily want to get it all from a paper any more.”
Neyman said she knows readers can get speedier information on things like the presidential election by going online or turning to T.V. or radio.
“The one thing you can’t get from Google is what’s happening on the Kenai Peninsula or what’s up with the neighbor who has all the garden gnomes cropping up in his yard.” Neyman said. “We have our niche.”
Neyman said a version of the new Redoubt Reporter is available online at redoubtreporter.blogspot.com, but she hopes readers will warm to the inky version.
Born and raised in Wrangell, Neyman learned a love of newspapers while working at the historic Wrangell Sentinel as a teenager. Wrangell — established as a fort in 1811 — is one of Alaska’s oldest non-Native settlements.
“I developed some of my ideas about what a community newspaper is from growing up in a really small town,” Neyman explained. “The population was about 3,000 people, and we were on an island where you can’t get on or off. It was a true community paper. It had no AP (Associated Press), no world news. That was my introduction to what a newspaper was.”
From her parents, Neyman said she learned a certain amount of entrepreneurial confidence. Her dad is a commercial fisherman, while mom is a “tech guru” and administrative assistant for the special education department at the school district there.
“I guess I got both sides from them,” she said of her parents. “Mom was always working three jobs and could never sit still. Dad is a commercial fisherman, which isn’t so much a job as who he is.”
Neyman earned a college scholarship from her work on the Wrangell paper, and earned her degree in journalism from Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., in 2001.
While at Whitworth, Neyman finished an internship with the Peninsula Clarion, and was offered a position there after she graduated. She worked as a reporter, editor and on layout for six years, then joined the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District as a communications specialist.
In July, Neyman took the plunge to start the community newspaper, hoping that the small business loan she’d applied for would come through.
“From there, it was pretty much a two-week scramble to get the paper going,” Neyman said. “I didn’t actually receive the loan until August.”
The first edition came out Aug. 6. It’s published every Wednesday.
The function of the Redoubt Reporter is to be a community newspaper whose biggest standard — like most small-town papers — is its local focus. Neyman assembled a team of ad reps, freelance writers and a graphic designer.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a good time for newspapers — you certainly won’t get fabulously wealthy from it any more,” she said. “But I think it is possible (to start up a newspaper) as long as you present a product people want to read. In this case, it’s local news.”
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