News…

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Parent corporation Calista is closing and liquidating  their Alaska Newpapers, Inc subsidiary.  

While we understand the business decision, we are  sad that these newspapers will no longer be available for news of rural Alaska within their  communities and for the rest of the state.

We are in a time of change all over America as regards news, news collection, news delivery, and news organizations.

News organizations are struggling all over America.

There are endless essays and conversations about whether this is good, bad , or both, as well as discussions of causes, such as effect of the internet on a  paid/paying subscriber/advertiser  base .

Today, none of that means much.

The loss of ANI , even the small operation that it is, will leave a gaping hole in information available to us all here in Alaska from huge portions of the state.

The food and fuel crisis in Western Alaska in the winter of 2008-2009 was eventually fairly well covered but until ANI published Mr Tucker’s letter in January, a number of warnings in the broader news world had been largely  ignored by Alaskans and their government.

The blogging community in Alaska hopped on the story, as did the  Alaska Dispatch  ( note the Dispatch reprinted an ANI story as well as reported on it’s own ) and eventually the ADN.

Our neighbors in Western Alaska received some much needed assistance, the issues which contributed to the crisis got some way overdue scrutiny from our government ( still not near enough action there, AK legislators and gov!), and we ended up with a broader set of news sources for rural Alaskan issues, most notably Kyle Hopkins’ Rural Blog at the ADN  and the expansion of coverage by the Alaska Dispatch

Some say blogs can, do, and will fill some of the gaps left by the loss and/ or dilution of  traditional news sources. Alaska’s bloggers did make  a difference in how far and how fast the news travelled that winter, most notably AKM’s work on her Mudflats site.

 AKM’s remark :

 The conversation is not over yet.  Voices that have not been heard for a long time have far to travel. 

resonates as much today as it did in January 2009.

Writing Raven at Alaska Real wrote many, many posts which set issues we need to deal with right out on the table  as well as staking a line in the sand as regards allowing more voices to be heard, truly heard, not stuffed in a folder to look at later :

I will say it again – this problem did not just spring up six weeks ago. Not only has this been generations in the making, the whole last year Native leaders, state leaders, corporations, people in the communities have been speaking out, warning about this, and even asking for help before it “hit the web.”

Phil Munger at Progressive Alaska wrote over and over again of fisheries management issues and related problems which affect rural Alaska with an eye towards broadening knowledge, action, and discussion in this state :

Reading through the coverage of this in the establishment press, in comments to those articles, and on the blogs, it appears that we’ve only scratched the surface of how to help the hardy people in Alaska’s most impoverished census district – Wade Hampton – survive and thrive through the unnerving changes our new century seems to have so many of in abundance.

Here at Anonymous Bloggers we have made a number of runs at what Ugavic calls “information sharing”- from sharing details of everyday life in the bush, far from road systems , energy grids, and sometimes even a store for groceries, to sharing information about how fish and game management, state and federal, affects the people who live with the decisions. At whatever level we have added to or encouraged knowledge of bush Alaska  which might be used to add to conversations about what-to-do we have succeeded at our *bloggerly* aims.

However, nothing we do here can take the place of real reporting by qualified, trained, seasoned reporters such as Alex DeMarban or Margaret Bauman of ANI. We will miss them greatly. We hope they and all other ANI staff find well-paying, decent jobs. We have selfish  hope we will , very soon, see those bylines appear elsewhere on rural focussed stories  in other publications.

 We will miss ANI’s focus on rural Alaska and hope the gap it will leave can and will be filled.    

” Voices that have not been heard for a long time …”  need a vehicle to travel the distance.

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3 Responses to “News…”

  1. elsie09 Says:

    Well said, as always, alaskapi. This is a time in the histories of our states and the nation itself that we need MORE news, BETTER journalists, and MORE interest discussing the daily struggles, and also the triumphs, of ALL our people.

    It’s been a real pleasure to read well-written articles by Alex DeMarban and Margaret Bauman that expand my understanding about life in rural Alaska. The loss of their reports, and that of other professionals who relay Alaskan news to their readers, is a severe blow to the rural people of the state. Unlike the Lower 48, so much of Alaska consists of small, remote communities connected only by the occasional barge, small airplane, Internet, VHF radio and, regionally, winter snowmachine.

    Extensive news coverage is needed now, more than ever. It’s a sad day for Alaska when even a small company like ANI has to close its doors and lay off its employees and leave undone the reporting that draws attention to the needs of its rural population, so isolated from better-known, larger communities.

    Like you, I wish the very best to Alex, Margaret, and the other news professionals who have lost their jobs with ANI. I look forward to finding them in a new media outlet where they once again tell the tales of rural Alaska and give those isolated villagers a voice that is so badly needed within, and beyond, the state.

  2. alaskapi Says:

    Elsie- the Alaska Dispatch has updated it’s story about ANI

    “Alaska losing its only locally-owned newspaper chain ”

    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/alaska-losing-its-only-locally-owned-newspaper-chain

    I guess I knew but had not thought about ANI being our only locally owned chain of papers.
    The Dispatch itself has expanded it’s rural coverage over it’s short history. I hope we will see it pick up even more when ANI is gone.

  3. jim Says:

    My grandfather was mayor of Seward in 1929 and 1930. At that time the Seward Phoenix Log was a well established newspaper, over 80 years ago.
    This is a huge loss. Do human beings need journalism (information)? Does democracy need journalism (information)? Yes on both counts. There is no substitute for journalism. Successful societies depend on accurate information.

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