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Articles of Interest



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 of opinion.

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.

---Freedom Writer

Email:  wmtopel@gci.net

Anchorage, AK




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:




Submitted by:

Nels Anderson, Jr.

AIP Candidate for Governor

Box 1398 Dillingham, Alaska 99576 907-842-1198




By David Stancliff

May 29,2000

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:  dave_stan4@yahoo.com





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.

  • Outright falsehoods
  • 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: ombudsman@mediaresearchak.org.  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.

Become a contributing member to the Media Research Center of Alaska.



Founded in 1999, the MRCA is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit research and education organization.  

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