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Media Review 


October 29, 2002

Publisher:      Anchorage Daily News

Reporters:     Liz Ruskin & Don Hunter

Titles :          Murkowski has fought long, hard
                           battle for Alaska

                    Ulmer's career covers gamut of
                           state government

Ulmer’s “accomplishment piece,” side-by-side with Murkowski’s “accomplishment piece,” on Sunday, October 27th, in the Anchorage Daily News, represents a bias toward Ulmer against Murkowski when comparing and contrasting source comments and rebuttals by the candidates.  This analysis doesn’t even include counting the negative comments inserted by the reporter, which are weighted against Murkowski.

It appears that the assignment to the two reporters was to each do a story on the lifetime accomplishments of the democratic and republican candidates for Governor, Murkowski and Ulmer.  Don Hunter’s article on Ulmer was a positive, upbeat, and complimentary article and if it stood alone would be celebrated as a job well done.    However, the article by Ruskin at its side pushed the Ulmer article into being labeled as biased.

An attempt was made by the Media Research Center of Alaska to include the Anchorage Daily News’ comments about why they published these articles as they did, hoping that it was an oversight or their part.  This was considered relevant to check out due to their fair and balanced coverage last week on Ulmer’s and Murkowski’s views regarding subsistence.  However, Pat Dougherty, Senior VP & Editor, insisted that the MRCA’s and this author’s opinion were just that, “our opinion,” filtered through our own agendas and therefore dismissed any validity to our claim.

Below is a link to the technical analysis of the article, measuring how many column inches are devoted to a source’s comment and rated either positive or negative with a rating for the rebuttal by the candidate that would balance out the negative comment.  As you can see, Ulmer had far more positive source comments and positive rebuttals than Murkowski.  To compare and contrast the article yourself, you are advised to have the articles in front of you.

Content analysis of 10/27/02 Anchorage Daily News articles on Fran Ulmer and Frank Murkowski: Go to Chart and other comments.   


The Media Research Center of Alaska is neither opposed or supportive of ANY candidate for political office.  It is the mission of the MRCA to review, analyze and report on any bias in news media, regardless of the individuals, events, or topics.


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By Bernie Day, Ombudsman, Media Research Center of Alaska

The long-running drama over subsistence in Alaska seems doomed to continue due mainly to governance disputes that date back to 1959, the year of statehood.  Having continued this long, still having a lack of "clarity" in terminology that could improve communication, disputes in law interpretation, and a Federal bias toward a specific segment of the population, namely indigenous peoples, (which happens to violate state law) keeps both sides from finding common ground on which to build a working accord.   

Truly, the agendas behind both sides must be clarified.  Why is it that the liberals want to base preference on location?  Is it to create opportunities for sharing in the wealth of natural resources by urban folks who go rural?  Is it truly to unite Alaska's peoples or is it to divide?  Is it for votes?  And to be fair, what is the conservative's agenda?  Is it truly to preserve the cultural meaning of native peoples?  Is it to preserve natural resources?  Serious, impartial, and honest inquiry must take place so that Alaskans can decide a fair and long-term livable outcome for all of its citizens.

This lack of congruity has a major impact for Alaska and Alaskans.   Effective land and resource management that considers Alaska’s future development, financial success and preservation of its cultural origins is impeded by having its focus on the present problem – who is in charge of the land called Alaska?   If effective resource management measures are not put into place, Alaska will face greater demand and decreased supply of its resources.  At the present, with Alaska’s seemingly rich natural fabric and massive landmass, it causes one to be caught up in the erroneous belief that there will “always be enough.”  However, we can learn from history in areas around the world, that resources can be depleted, stripped land and sea can become wasted, and pollution can embed itself for centuries to come.

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