Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Former CVN reporter lived prolific life


January 11, 2018

Bill McAllister

Bill McAllister, a former Chilkat Valley News reporter who later became press secretary for Alaska governor and U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, died Dec. 15 in Anchorage.

He was 61 and had been suffering illnesses, including lymphoma and neuropathy, for several years.

McAllister worked more than two years as the CVN's lead reporter before moving to reporting jobs at the the Juneau Empire, Anchorage-based KTUU-TV and the Alaska One public television network.

Former CVN publisher Bonnie Hedrick described McAllister as a "a dogged, hard-nosed reporter" who was "diligent and accurate" but had difficulty fitting into the town.

"(He was) a bit of a fish out of water here. I think he needed a bigger pond," Hedrick said.

McAllister was active in local theater, staging several plays he'd written, and acting in and directing others.

McAllister arrived in Haines from the Saint Paul Legal Ledger in July 1995, staying until September 1997. Local stories he covered includes ones about the struggling Lynn Canal Medical Corporation, permitting of the Kensington Mine, and proposed annexation by the City of Haines.

McAllister worked four years as capital correspondent for KTUU and is credited with increasing journalists' access to state legislators. He won more than a dozen journalism awards, including for a documentary on the Alaska Permanent Fund.

He joined the administration of Gov. Palin in 2008, serving as press secretary when Palin was selected as Republican nominee for vice-president. After a year with Palin, McAllister went to work for the state Department of Law. In 2011, he returned to journalism as a reporter for KTVA-TV.

Before coming to Alaska, McAllister worked for the St. Cloud Times and as a rock critic for Gannett News Service.

He was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2008 and more recently required use of a wheelchair.

McAllister is survived by parents William and Mary McAllister of St. Louis, Mo., by birth mother Michelle Emery Newton of San Diego, Calif., and by children August, Grace and Saga.

(This story contains information from the website


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