The Story of an Alaskan Journalist

You can own an award-winning newspaper and still not be able to afford a house with a flush toilet. But Tom Morphet is proud of what he's built. After working at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska, for 25 years, he bought the newspaper five years ago.

At 55, he needs a new career. His wife, Jane Pascoe, has her eye on a house in town that, unlike his cabin in the woods 8 miles out, has power and water.

"I said, 'Honey, we could live for free in the cabin.' But she wants to flush a toilet," Morphet said. "When I met her she was a girl living out of a backpack and she didn't care."

Morphet accepted poverty for decades to do no-nonsense journalism in a tiny town that could barely support it and didn't always appreciate it. The News has won 20 Alaska Press Club awards in the last three years but sells only 1,500 copies at the height of the visitor season.

Morphet tried to sell the paper -at a great loss- to his only reporter, but the deal fell through. Meanwhile, he is running for a seat in the Haines Borough Assembly. But the real story is Morphet's biography, from the advice he got in college to his accidental job at a fish-processing plant to his adventures in local journalism. Read it all at Alaska Dispatch News. -via Dave Barry

(Image courtesy of Tom Morphet)

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