HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE ANCHORAGE PRINT NEWS MEDIA
by Bill Topel, Freedom Writer
August 14, 2002
It is refreshing to see an independent organization monitor the fairness &
accuracy of media outlets in Alaska & I, Freedom Writer, welcome MRAK's
observations & analyses into the Alaskan consumer's media experience.
Having lived in Alaska since 1966, I have witnesses the ebb & flow of media
coverage of local, state, & national events by those various print &
broadcast media outlets stationed in the 49th State. I have noticed that
there has been a "peak & valley" cyclical syndrome with respect to what news
has been covered, how the news has been covered, & why the news has been
covered the way it has.
During the mid1 960's, I thought the emphasis was fairly even-handed
concerning local political races, local news (with many columns by many
different authors-columnists on different topics-perspectives), statewide
issues (political transitions & post-earthquake recovery efforts blooming
into new business expansion), & the Vietnam War escalation (with its effects
on the burgeoning military populations & local impacts). That timeframe saw
Anchorage with 2 main competing daily newspapers -- one in the morning
(Daily News) & one in the afternoon (Times ) -- and a new third broadcast
media outlet -- Channel 13 -- and one mainstay (amidst a small handful of AM
music stations) for overall radio news -- KFQD.
The late 1960's began the philosophical divide of the local print media from
non-partisan community service into "piggybacking" upon the national
political scene. The flashiness of the liberal scene competed with the
steadfastness of traditional values for space in the papers & time on the
air. Contrasting political ideologies surfaced between the Daily News (the
New Left) and the Times (the old liberalism, now the new conservative). The
new resource explorations & development, promising to be the keys to
Alaska's future economic survival set by the examples of Prudhoe Bay & other
North Slope oil discoveries, led the statewide news topics. This was the
beginning of a new time when all the Alaskan media left behind any
concurrent agreements on many things for the prospect of political
expediencies & catering to specific special interests. Our national
involvement in Vietnam was "quicksanded" by a new split becoming apparent
in the country between the "hawks" & the "doves" & a political hierarchy
unwilling to either win the war or end it completely. FM music stations
began to appear to offer a "non-news" format for the airwave listeners, thus
stifling what would otherwise be a normal increase in conscientious
listeners to the AM market.
The early 1970's witnessed an increase of social awareness groups, like the
new environmental activists & anti-war groups, which further magnified the
new social-political-economic schism apparent in news coverage. The New
Left concentrated on the new political activists as the "headliners" of the
day. The conservatives preached their traditional values & economic growth
& support for our military. Young people were becoming more active in
politics, as evidenced by the birth of a rejuvenated Democratic Party in
Alaska with it's exciting Ad Hoc Organizing Committee of Young Democrats (Ad
Hoc, for short) that held "open-to-all" statewide public hearings on all
the issues prior to formulating a partisan political party platform. The
Daily News began to earn nationwide recognition for its "analysis" of events
which competed head-on with the Times' reputation for "the facts, ma'am".
The Daily News was now "all Democrat" & the Times was "all Republican". The
Times would become infamous for its headlines reading one way while its
story lines would read differently. The Daily News would do its usual
Primary election endorsements & the Times would wait until the General
Election before it would disclose it's endorsements for office. The
Pulitzer Prize awards went to analysis rather than facts during this
timeframe, not that it wasn't earned, but it would begin a trend that would
exacerbate the divisions in the community, as manifested by a future lack of
media responsibility & accountability.
The mid 1970's saw the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline as the main
statewide news topic. The resultant economic boom further propelled the
Times' market expansion against the faltering Daily News. News coverage, at
least in the print media, was now politicized. With Watergate, the
prevailing political party suffered, & the opposition prevailed, for awhile,
in national news after we withdrew from Vietnam. More new AM & FM radio
stations would emerge locally. The Times did its cheerleading for the
booming businesses & their politicians & the day-to-day things that most
people had to experience to get through their daily routines. The Daily
News covered anti-war rallies, New Left interests, & other "armchair
liberal" topics, but it did do a good thing -- investigate Alaska's
Teamster Union Local 959 -- & rightfully earned another Pulitzer Prize award
for investigative reporting. However, that would be it's last nationally
recognized "hurrah". The late 1970's would be the death-knell of the Daily
News & the short-lived triumph of the Times as the Vietnam War had ended,
young political activists were co-opted into joining the system, the
pipeline was finished & bringing money into the state's treasury, &
everything seemed "back to normal". For a short period of time, a weekly
print publication, "The Alaska Advocate", gathered together most of the
remaining award-winning journalists from the "defunct" Daily News (actually
operating under a Joint Operating Agreement under Justice Department
trusteeship which allowed the Times to publish both papers temporarily --
how's that for a "conflict of interest" with a community service
rationale?). This new weekly began where the Daily News ended....by doing
its own investigative journalism...with it's motto: "Sacred Cows Make the
Best Hamburger". This new publication raised many an interested eyebrow,
but it soon got it's version of being co-opted: An outside California
corporation named McClatchy, owner of many newspapers, decided to purchase
the remnants of the Daily News & quickly hired & welcomed the Alaskan
Advocate team to its corporate fold. As the 1970's ended & the 1980's
began, there promised to be more good print publication competition within
Alaska, but who would have ever dreamed of what would eventually occur.
The early 1980's saw an influx of millions of dollars of investment from
McClatchy into the new Daily News. Now money was no longer a variable in
the competition between the liberal Daily News & the conservative Times.
Both went after local news. Both went after statewide topics. Both had
their national news feeds. Both had their separate editorial departments &
both rarely agreed on many of the issues. Consumer prices for ads &
delivery were similar & competitive. The difference became in their
business management approach: The Daily News had new money to modernize, &
they did so, while the Times stayed static & became complacent. The result:
The Daily News was winning the circulation war & the Times would eventually
lose it completely. However, the real loser would be the Alaskan reading
consumer in specific & media accountability & responsibility in general.
After the mid & late 1980's & thereafter when the Times folded, the Daily
News allowed a one-page editorial display within its editorial section so it
would appear to be inclusive of diverse opinions. That "Voice of the Times" still appears today, but it's the only reflection of divergent opinion
practically allowed within the folds of the new Daily News. Sure, the ADN
had its Forum section, but that became most of the time just another outlet
of similar views expressed by different voices rather than separate views
from the community. A city the size of Anchorage -- over 260,000 people
--certainly has more than one editorial opinion on any given issue. The
Daily News disassembled the old Times printing press so that it would never
again be allowed to publish anything anymore by anyone in Alaska. Newspaper
prices, both at the rack & through home delivery climbed. Advertising rates
climbed. There was no more daily newspaper competition in Alaska's largest
city anymore. Radio stations were emerging & merging & being bought by
other outside corporations. Television stations were also changing
ownership. Oil revenues began to decline in the state's coffers. Economic
boom & bust cycles were now more prevalent & considerable. Alaska never
achieved its diversified economy it wanted through increased natural
resource development. Only state government grew. Even the local federal
military installations were considered for closure as the Cold War ended.
Local news coverage was scattered as media outlets relied more & more on
their national news feeds & syndicated outlets to fill the paper & airwaves.
Kay Fanning, the surviving owner of the Daily News before McClatchy, had
since left Alaska. Robert Atwood, the once "William Randolph Heart/Citizen
Kane" leader of the Times, had died. Alaskan-born Howard Weaver, the
award-winning journalist-turned Editor, left Alaska. It appeared the Alaska
voice was gone.
Gone were the days of effective independent investigative journalism. Gone
was the equally effective daily competition which kept both newspapers
honest & within the reach of everybody's pocketbook. Gone was the diversity
As in the scenario of the cliche, "It's always darkest before the dawn", all
is not lost yet. Two good weekly newspapers supplement the Anchorage
reading market: The Alaska Star, is headquartered in Eagle River, & the
Alaska Military Weekly, covers news on all federal military installations
within Alaska besides the appropriate national defense news topics relevant
to our men & women in uniform. A weekly that caters to the entertainment of
Anchorage's young has been around for almost 10 years now: The Anchorage
Press. A new weekly also emerged about 3 weeks ago: The Anchorage
Chronicle, is owned by Alaskan Newspapers, Inc., which also owns some
weeklies around the state. The latter promises more local coverage & it has
delivered on its promise so far. Finally, there is always the Internet,
which brings us alternatives to the mainstream corporate media.
My website, FREEDOM WRITER, was founded in June 1999, during the midst of
the Clinton-Gore administration scandals. You can view it at:
http://www.freedomwriter.com. Decide for yourself if it does what I
promise: Bringing you news & commentary that you won't find in your local
newspapers or broadcast media, holding the political establishment
accountable, offering you an alternative way to interact & input your
thoughts on various public policy issues, & providing opinion polls on many
topics. I'm not the only internet website that showcases news & commentary
& you can find many of them linked through my site, as well.
Readers in Anchorage & throughout Alaska are starved for fair, accurate, &
comprehensive media coverage on what's happening within their communities,
our state, & around the world. We can no longer suffer through a
"one-party, one-thought" vision. We need news & opinion as diverse as the
people that we are. Not only do we need "analysis" but we also need "just
the facts, ma'am". Maybe we need MRAK -- the Media Research Center of
Alaska -- to help us achieve what our First Amendment promises: Freedom of
Speech & Freedom of the Press.
CLOSED PRIMARY COULD BE A BIT CONFUSING IN AUGUST, 2002
By Nels Anderson, Jr.
June 13, 2002
Those of us who are going to vote during the August 27, 2002 Primary
election are going to be in for a few surprises. I am hoping that our
regions across the state will understand that a closed primary will be
very confusing on Primary Election day. If one wants to vote for Fran
Ulmer or anyone else as a democrat and they also want to vote for Don
Young, who is a Republican, they are going to be in a dilemma.
The voter will only be able to vote one ballot and that ballot will be
of the party that they are registered to on Primary Election day. There
will be six ballots and you will given one ballot only. You will not be
able to choose another ballot.
Many in Rural And Remote Alaska want to vote for Don Young. But since
it is a closed primary, you will be given a ballot to which you are
registered and have to vote for only those people on that ballot. So if
you want to vote for Nels Anderson, Jr. and vote for Don Young, you will
not be able to do that.
Undeclared and non-party registered voters will have a choice. They can
pick one of any of the six ballots that will be presented in the August
Primary election. However, like the rest of us, they will be able to
choose only one ballot.
I am a registered Alaska Independence Party voter so I will get an AIP
ballot. I will not be able to vote for Don Young although I would like
to. The only way I can vote for Don Young is to change to a republican
or change to an undeclared or non-party registered voter. However one
chooses to go, they will be locked into only one ballot with no freedom
to vote for other candidates as has been the case in the past.
Complicated? Yes. People have until July 28, 2002 to change their
registration with the Division of Elections. If you have any questions
about the upcoming closed Primary, you can write to: Alaska Division of
Elections, PO Box 110018, Juneau, Alaska 99811-0018 or call
907-465-3021. They also can be reached at their web page:
Nels Anderson, Jr.
AIP Candidate for Governor
Dillingham, Alaska 99576
OUR NATION BASED ON A PREMISE
By David Stancliff
It is easy to believe, if one watches Jay Leno, that many present day Americans do not know the difference between the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or where the famous tea party was held. When Jay goes to the street to show how shallow today's young people are, it is more than sad, it is alarming. The audience laughs at
the ignorance, but there is nothing funny about it. He asks the most basic questions to the most basic issues and is often greeted with blank faces and absurd answers. While there may be many opinions as to why we have lost touch with our country's history, there can be only one ultimate result if the disconnect continues. When history dies so do its lessons. Lincoln understood the need to keep history alive.
When honest Abe gave his famous address from Gettysburg it was greeted by most as disappointing. A press, hungry for long dissertation, chided his remarks as nearly an insult when compared to Mr. Everette who spoke unbroken for one and one half hours just before Lincoln. Later Everette would contact Lincoln and admit that the president had
left a more powerful message in his few moments than Everette could ever hope to leave in his life of speaking.
In what is now considered the most gifted speeches ever delivered in the English language, historians and grammarians spend countless hours debating the various merits of the Gettysburg text. How many versions were there? Which did he read? Did he read it verbatim etc. What many including myself marvel at the miracle of understanding Lincoln
so eloquently conveyed about our freedom and our nation.
We are the only nation ever conceived not on a principle or practical notion, but on a proposition; that being "that all men are created equal". Think about that for a moment. A nation founded on an idea. A true experiment in the exploration of faith in God and the understanding that all his children are equal in his sight. When
Lincoln wrote his famous House Divided analogy to preserve the Union, he took the words straight from the New Testament. Lincoln understood the importance of a Union based on a Godly premise. He knew if we were to long endure we must be consistent with eternal principles. Freedom as a reason for a government had never been attempted. It was nothing more or less than a premise and ours would be the first test of such
a high and noble idea in the history of the world.
It is also interesting to note that Lincoln predicated freedom upon equality. That the on-going test this nation or any nation so dedicated and so conceived will face would be to respect our equality. Slavery had mightily confirmed this to Lincoln. In that institution based on inequality, he saw no hope for freedom. Additionally he saw no
chance for slaves to have what he considered a God given right in both civil and commerce opportunities. Lincoln understood the importance of a person's right to claim their personal sovereignty, and the absolute right to provide for one's self and family as the right to life itself. In this understanding he had never wavered from a young man to his death.
We must ask ourselves as Lincoln challenged in his address if we are failing the test in upholding the proposition of freedom. We must ask ourselves, if the average young American is not taught and has yet to understand that their freedom bought with blood is literally in their hands, whether we shall much longer endure. Humans are consistent
in many behaviors, not the least of which is failing to preserve what they do not understand. If we are to preserve our great experiment in the premise and promise of freedom we must turn our attention and energies to our schools. It is there we must keep eternal our efforts to make freedom live in the minds of our young. It is there we the living must continue the work Lincoln outlined in his address. We must keep
the proposition alive not as a gift from men but as a gift from man's creator.
Dave Stancliff biography:
--Proud father of four Alaskans
--A legislative assistant since 1981
--27 year Alaska Resident
--9th generation American
--7 family members fought in Revolution, one with Washington at Brooklyn Heights
--4 family members fought in Civil War, one died in Andersonville
--Numerous family vets in WW I and II
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWS TREATMENT THAT PRODUCES MEDIA BIAS
by Bernie Day, Executive Director & Ombudsman
Media Research Center of Alaska
Unbeknownst to the “average” newsreader, supposed news accounts are not really the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Stores are written to sell – to sell YOU and of course: advertising. As a result, directives from the newsroom
carried out by reporters and editors, “treat” the news to increase readership. Following are some of the ways that news is doctored. Read through the list to familiarize your self with the process. Doing so will help you to see it for yourself the next time you have that gut
feeling that you aren’t presented with the whole story without a slant.
Attributing emotions to actions, which shapes opinion
Reporting a person's testimonial as fact, and another's testimonial as only a claim
Ignoring important facts
Weighted stories toward one side of an issue
Ignoring the context of a story
Referring to one person or group with positive labels and the other with negative labels
Headlines serving as conclusions
News analysis and commentary not disclosed as such
A journalist's opinion reported as news
In depth story-telling of one side but no corresponding analysis of the other sides of an issue
Quick to show suffering or victimization of one group and positioning another group or groups as the villain(s)
Present speculative ideas as facts
In political campaigns, present a candidate as the “favored winner” and ignore most or all of the other candidates
Weight the number of stories for an issue or candidate and ignore or exclude the opposition
Present the opinion of someone as fact without substantiating the claims
Glossing over unfavorable facts about one side and high-light unfavorable facts about opposing views
Quoting sources more readily and positively on one side compared to the opposite action on the other sides
So, the next time you read a news article, ask yourself if you are getting the whole story. Remember, the newspaper you are reading CAN present its own opinion as long as this is clearly indicated – but front page news should be the truth, and nothing but the truth.
The Media Research Center of Alaska is dedicated to reviewing, analyzing and reporting on media bias in the Alaska media market. For more information about the Center and to subscribe to our FREE eZine, visit: http://mediaresearchak.org. Bernie Day, author of this article, is the Executive Director and Ombudsman of the Media Research Center of Alaska and can be reached at: email@example.com. We sincerely welcome your assistance in identifying bias in the Alaska media. If you have any questions about what YOU can do about media bias, please use our ACTION GUIDE.