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  • Lynn Lovegreen

Kay Fanning, Alaskan and Journalist


Kay Fanning looking at a newspaper
Kay Fanning, photo courtesy of Alaska Women's Hall of Fame

I was researching for my current work in progress, and came across a reference to Kay Fanning. She may not be a household name today, she was an important person in journalism, and in Alaska.


Kay (Katherine) Fanning was born into a Illinois family and married into high society. But the average life wasn’t for her. In 1965, as a middle-aged single mother, she packed up the kids and drove up the Alcan to Alaska.


She started part-time work at the Anchorage Daily News and became a reporter and editor. Eventually, she and her new husband Larry Fanning bought the paper. They hired young reporters who did more investigative journalism. When Larry died, she took over the entire management and editing. The ADN won its first Pulitzer under her direction in 1976. Fanning stayed at the helm until she moved to the Christian Science Monitor in 1983. She died of cancer in 2000.


When I was a teenager, I wrote a letter to the editor complaining about the typos I found in the ADN. Kay Fanning wrote me back, encouraging me to apply for a job someday. I’m a little sorry I didn’t take that path. Working with her would have been an amazing experience.


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