Story Last modified at 4:56 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I was sorry to learn that Calista Corp. has decided to shut down Alaska Newspapers Inc. (ANI) and its chain of weekly newspapers next month. For nearly 20 years, ANI's publications have informed and entertained readers in many of the state's smallest, most remote communities. The demise of the papers will leave a big hole in the communities they served.
From Barrow to Cordova, ANI's newspapers provided the kind of on-the-ground coverage of city council meetings, fishing openings and high school basketball games that larger media outlets missed but local readers came to depend on. ANI's reporting came with the local perspective of neighbors talking to neighbors.
At their best, the Arctic Sounder, Tundra Drums, Cordova Times, Bristol Bay Times, Dutch Harbor Fisherman and Seward Phoenix LOG did what newspapers are supposed to do: chronicle the lives of their readers and provide a voice to the underserved.
ANI also was a home for reporters who embraced the adventure of life in remote Alaska, covering stories by airplane, skiff, four-wheeler, snowmachine and even dog team. Time spent in the Inupiat, Yupik, Aleut and Eyak communities broadened the horizons of many green reporters from non-Alaska backgrounds. Their reporting also celebrated a side of Alaska life often overlooked by the state's urban residents.
In the age of the Internet and cable television, rural residents will still be able to find out what's happening Outside, but the loss of ANI may make it more difficult to know what's happening just down the river.
Thank you for the memories,
Senator Lisa Murkowski
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.