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Kay Fanning's Alaska Storyby Kay Fanning
Synopses & Reviews
Kay Woodruff Field, 38, an ex-debutante once called "the Grace Kelly of Chicago," loaded her three children into a battered station wagon and headed north to Alaska in 1965 after her divorce. Looking for a new life, she found it at the Anchorage Daily News, a morning newspaper struggling against the powerful Anchorage Times, voice of the establishment. She and her new husband, Larry Fanning, bought the News, ignoring predictions that the paper wouldn't survive. Kay explained later: "Profit is not the purpose of the press..the free, unfettered flow of ideas is." Public interest became the paper's specialty. This is the story of a courageous publisher who backed gun control, environmental protection, and Native rights - controversial issues in a conservative state. Fanning refused to bend under pressure from advertisers and politicians, and won a Pulitzer Prize. Kay Fanning died before finishing her memoir. Eighteen personal stories about her written by friends and colleagues complete the portrait of a gracious, compassionate, and persistent newspaperwoman of integrity who left an indelible mark on Alaska.
Katherine Field Stephen, herself a reporter, was determined to finish her mother’s book. And she did, by inviting eighteen of Kay’s friends and colleagues to contribute personal stories about Kay Fanning.
In 1965, Kay Woodruff Field, 38, a newly divorced former debutante once described as the "Grace Kelly of Chicago," loaded her three children into a Buick station wagon and headed north to start a fresh life in Alaska. Little did she know that she would became the most influential woman in Alaska. Fanning took a job at the Anchorage Daily News, a struggling morning newspaper that she and her new husband, Larry Fanning, later bought. After Larry’s death, Kay became editor and publisher. She pressed for settlement of Alaska’s Native land claims, alienated advertisers by covering environmental issues deemed to threaten development, and in 1976 won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of corruption in Alaska’s powerful Teamsters Union. Kay Fanning died in 2000, her memoir unfinished. Katherine Field Stephen, herself a reporter, was determined to finish her mother’s book. And she did, by inviting eighteen of Kay’s friends and colleagues to contribute personal stories about Kay Fanning.
Kay Fanning's Alaska Story is an inspirational memoir of how Kay built the Anchorage Daily News into a bastion of progressive leadership. She did it with grace and integrity, always placing public interests above special interests. In 1965, Kay loaded her three children into a station wagon and headed north for a fresh start in Alaska. She took a job at the Anchorage Daily News, eventually purchasing the struggling newspaper with her new husband, Larry Fanning. Just as they were gaining steam, however, Larry died of a heart attack. Kay became editor and publisher, turning the Daily News into Alaska's largest newspaper. She and her newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for coverage of corruption in Alaska's powerful Teamsters Union. In 1983, Kay headed East to become editor of the Christian Science Monitor. She began working on this memoir, but she died before it was finished. Katherine Field Stephen, her daughter, finished the book by inviting eight of Kay Fanning's friends and associates to contribute stories of how Kay helped define Alaska's issues and shape its future.
About the Author
Katherine Field Stephen has worked as a journalist in Alaska, London, and Washington D.C., where she now resides with her husband and two children.
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