This month marks the 36th anniversary of the last issue of the Alaska Advocate, a statewide weekly newspaper originally founded by three Anchorage Daily News staffers, Howard Weaver, Mark Weaver, and Andy Williams, and two Associated Press reporters, John Greely and Rodger Painter. The Advocate was about as anti-establishment as an Alaska newspaper has been and, at its peak, claimed some 6,000 subscribers. The editorial page slogan was, “Sacred cows make the best hamburger.” Much-loved by its readers, it died a sad death after 27 months.
WC was a modest investor in the newspaper, largely at the urging of future governor Steve Cowper. But the loss of the investment was the least of it. Alaskans lost a liberal counterpoint to the dominant newspaper of the day, the Anchorage Times, whose publisher, Bob Atwood, never met a Chamber of Commerce, mine, oil well or pulp mill he didn’t like. Or failed to noisily support.
26 years has brought a lot of changes. The Anchorage Times, which once had the Anchorage Daily News on the financial ropes, is long dead, killed in part by Bill Allen, long before his own personal debacle. The Daily News hasn’t won any Pulitzer Prizes since Howard Weaver left. Across newspapers as a group are fighting a losing battle with the internet. If the current Alaska Legislature is any indication, whatever liberal elements were present when the Advocate was still around are long gone, too.
But it swaggered through Alaska for a while, and shouldn’t be forgotten. Here’s to tilting at windmills.