Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Biggest Environmental Catastrophe in Alaska History is Accelerating and Alaska's Journal of Record Misses the Story - Introduction

Back in late April and Early May, Progressive Alaska commented on the death of the soul of Alaska's journal of record, the Anchorage Daily News, as the newspaper's editors and publisher seemed to solidify Alaska's most influential media outlet's ongoing reinvention, as the comforter of the comforted and afflicter of the afflicted.

PA has been critical of Republicans and Democrats, of other progressive Alaska bloggers, and of almost every mainstream media outlet in the state.

Way to make friends, eh?

It isn't.

I cannot comment at
The Mudflats without approval of each comment by AKM herself. I think Brian may be able to overrule her, but... the policy effectively keeps me from wanting to contribute to discussion there. And I refuse to play by the blog's rules. They're more stifling than those at my 91-year-old mom's quilting club meetings.

Sen. Mark Begich's office isn't happy with my criticisms of his lack of interest in the plight of the Yukon salmon ecosystem. They're even more disturbed that I've questioned Mark's endorsement of what will turn out to have been, in somewhere between 20 and 200 years, a disastrous Kensington Mine waste storage solution.

Of all the problems I've complained about, small and large, the dysfunctional, slow death spiral of the ADN seems to be the one about which PA has had to play solo most frequently. It is a sad dirge.

A lot of discussions with my colleagues on this have been frustrating. Even more troubling is the fact that so many of my friends at the
ADN don't appreciate something or another about my continuing campaign.

This past week, though, even more troubling than the ADN's:

• Cooperation with Sen. Stevens to stifle debate on his Mark Steyn racist book endorsement

• Lack of criticism of the growing awareness that VP candidate Palin was the most polarizing political figure in the USA since George Wallace

• Continuing inability or unwillingness to report in important articles about the war on open access to scientific informationLink
Willingness to back a public official who was an ex-employee of the ADN, when the official had used state resources to "out"somebody who was questioning the corrupt power structure of Alaska.

• Inability to grasp that the ADN had actually created a porn star-like shrine to Alaska's chief executive, and was continuing to promote and build the site after a candidate - Bob Poe - had announced his intent to compete against the governor in the next election for that public office.

• Failure to use its overwhelming resources to explain how inadequate Wayne Anthony Ross was to be Alaska's Attorney General. Instead, the ADN erroneously predicted Ross' confirmation.

• Encouragement of a hack political operative to write a scurrilous op-ed denigrating Alaska's most courageous independent commentator and journalist.

• Dishonest claim that the current chief executive is changing state hiring policy for high-level appointments, when the ADN had no evidence this is actually the case.

• Unwillingness to replace the exit of qualified reporters in rural affairs and fisheries with somebody ready and experienced enough to do these tasks at a critical time in Alaska history. Not only that, but the ADN assigned one honest, hardworking young journalist, Kyle Hopkins, to do both jobs. Given the political climate the ADN threw Kyle into, and the lack of support on research or on questioning state policies his editors have proven willing to provide their reporter, nobody envies Kyle. (Too bad, because this could have been the year for the right reporter with the right editorial backing to gain the paper a Pulitzer, and to rescue the rag from the waste basket of history.)

Has been the dead air there in regard to the growing concern on the biggest ecological catastrophe in the history of Alaska.

Maybe, like me, the ADN is simply overwhelmed by the magnitude of what is happening in the Bering Sea and in our rivers, and how that has such a profound effect on what Alaska really has been and is.

And should continue to be.


regina said...


I read somewhere that both Kensington and Pebble mines' waste disposal plans are still being challenged in court.

There are so many environmental threats in Alaska, you must continue to expose all of them.

CrabbyPatty said...

RE: ADN - you should also comment on how ADN sold their soul to the Pee'ers by letting them basically determine which comments are left (or are visible) for various articles. They actually folded when the Sea of Pee folks made some bogus claim about how they would drive their advertisers away, and ADN put their tail between their legs. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I remember when the ADN was the progressive voice. I can not stand that paper now.We canceled it a couple years ago and pick it up once in a while to remind our selves of how much we hate it, it a bias rag. Keep fighting the fight Phillip Munger, we check in daily.thanks for keeping it real.

Anonymous said...

I notice that Palin has been vindicated by exposing the "death panels".

I also notice that not one progressive blog has given her credit for that.

Their "standard bearer" might take a little heat, and he can't handle it.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as one once from outside of Anchorage, the biggest missing news voice has been public radio news. ADN covers more of rural Alaska than any of the Alaska Newspapers (such as Calista businesses such as Tundra Drums etc) which is not only pathetic but dangerous. Public radio stations (at least some) refuse to ask questions about alcohol, mining, taxing the poor for future swimming pools (but not firehouses or senior centers), state reps business and family cliques, erosion, fishing collapse, etc. The 2008 heating and food and dislocation issues were there long before 2007. If 15% of Anchorage suddenly moved out in one 3-month summer, wouldn't that be news? When that happened in Bethel in 2007, why wasn't it?

We have no investigative journalism; no coverage of ordinary events and community info (not even when bigwigs come to town and why the public is excluded from meeting them by our corporate monopolies); not even coverage of informative and supportive actions or activities outside of Anchorage or Los Angeles (Fairbanks is also a hub city for the Unorganized Borough); etc. Now, Alaska Public Radio will be even more consolidated, out of Anchorage.

It's really bad when publicly funded news organizations not only push false info to their readers and prohibit all counter coverage but also have playlists which emphasize how fun drinking and girls [sic] are.

How much open air coverage has there been of the economic importance of alcohol to Alaska? Someone in Bethel once calculated that 3 men and 1 bottle support the livelihoods of 70 others. ( 3 men get into a fight which involves 2-5 police officers, dispatch, judge, lawayers, prison officers, parole officers, behavioral counselling, administrators, taxi rides, facility construction, city tax on protective custody, emergency room medical types, Medicaid billers, school social workers, Anchorage liquor stores, air freight, ......]

I've probably veered off but so far as I have seen, there is no statewide resource for genuine information for Alaskans. We know that when people in communities hoard communal knowledge we all suffer. Seems to me the role of professional journalism is to support communities. Individuals, who have full-time lives, can't do it individually.

womanwithsardinecan said...

Anon 9:07,
A)there are no death panels.
B)Palin hasn't been vindicated, she's been skewered (what palinbots say doesn't count, cuz they are idiots).
C)Progressive blogs everywhere have given Palin "credit" for being a ghostwritten idiot by publishing her "argument" on Facebook and getting all of it wrong.
D)She is now labeled a scaremonger and deserves the title.

Anonymous said...

I suppose if all you read are "progressive blogs" you might have missed some of the latest newss about the health care debate.

You are forgiven.

EyeOnYou said...

I suppose if all you read are the Palin worshiping sites you would come away with the viewpoint that she is correct, but that is not unexpected at all.

Those who do so aren't forgiven, for it is their own fault for being deliberately and willfully mislead into believing the BS Palin and her worshipers spew forth claiming as fact.

One hopes that people like Phil continue to expose the truth and that others follow in his path.

Anonymous said...

ooooooo a real life troll. Trying to once again change the debate back to Obama and Health Care so we can't talk about how the ADN has virtually bailed on it's responsibility to Alaska.

The "shrine" to the Wicked Queen has cost them many readers. SP is now reduced to having someone write for her on Facebook, and the ADN obviously considers that "news".

The fact that Sullivan is going to veto the recent decision is appalling. With all the issues in this country, why are we choosing to write laws against individual groups of people? And why aren't our elected representatives supporting their constituents?

How long will it take Alaska to recover from the damage that Sarah Palin has done? She is toxic waste and she's spread it all over the state. It would certainly help all Alaskans if the ADN would print actual news that concerns the citizens instead of still worshipping at the altar of the ex-loser-beauty-queen 18 month governor who shilled for every Corporation she could get money from.

Sad ... and yes the censorship at AKM has increased markedly recently. Not sure why but they're heavily moderating even innocent comments. Perhaps they have a reason?

onejrkitty said...

I don't know if the employees of ADN are being threatened in some way i.e. financially via their own jobs or through advertising OR IF PALIN has had a hand in this.


To say that those in a position of authority and responsibility at ADN are selling their souls is an understatement.

Bluntly: One of these day we are all going to die. Each and every one of us. When that time comes, the ONLY thing that will support you is how you have lived your life. DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN SELF RESPECT ?

If you do, then whatever happens at death can be accepted without fear.


All we can take with us when we die is the love we feel for others and the love they feel for us, AND THE LOVE WE HAVE FOR OURSELVES FROM HAVING TRIED TO DO THE BEST WE COULD.

When you give in to fear or intimidation, you disrespect yourself and all you stand for. If it is not a matter of giving in to fear and intimidation, then you YOUSELF ARE ONE OF THE EVIL ONES. I.E. YOU ARE DOING EVIL KNOWINGLY AND WILLINGLY.

Each person in authority at ADN needs to think seriously about their ability to face the consequences of their own actions/nonaction.

This is not a game people. Whatever you do or don't believe in with respect to "life after death", it is coming and you better have your bags packed.

Old age, auto accident, whatever.

We do not know when nor how we will die, but we do know that one day we will and you better be ready.

They won't be time for "oh shit, I am really sorry I did didn't do that."

The ADN is not a newspaper and any ethics learned in Journalism 101 have obviously been thrown out for some time now.

Shame on the ADN. SHAME !

Alaska Is My Home said...

Phil, this is a hard post to read! I'm sitting about 6 inches lower than normal, hanging my head in shame for my state and our media. There are so many things to address here, but I will just say that I hear you, I agree with almost all of it, and we have to get busier than ever around here to turn things around.

I'll get to sitting up straight in a bit, I just need to re-energize and focus on what the best next step is. You are making a difference with your detailed, compassionate posts and do not doubt that for one second!

You are appreciated very, very much!

Anonymous said...

Petty, cheap shot at The Mudflats in an otherwise brilliant post, Phil.

Anonymous said...

No its not a cheap shot its the truth! It is her blog, everybody knows that, but without people posting, you won't have a blog...period.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:15 PM Anon.

You're correct about one's her blog. Sorry. Your and Phil's comments sound like a bit of sour grapes to me.

It's not prep school, my friend, where everyone has to wear the same uniform.

Philip Munger said...

@ 6:29,

I don't think my comment in the article about being moderated at the Mudflats is "sour grapes."

From what I know, I'm being moderated there because I posted a critical comment there and a mention in a post here that AKM's awarding a "gold star" to Sen. Begich for voting for Sonya Sotomayor for the Supreme Court was absurd. She's the most qualified candidate in over a generation, and has more experience in the criminal courts than all the other Supreme Court Justices put together. Begich only deserved acknowledgment for not being the only Democrat to vote against her. Period. I'm not sure why noting that was a reason to have me moderated there.

I only brought the Mudflats up here to point out that I'm not just critical of those against whom we are fighting so hard, but also critical of my allies when I feel it is important to do that.

My experience from watching blogs that have been in existence a lot longer than PA and The Mudflats, is that arguing and a certain amount of dissension among commenters can be very good, and often leads to important results.

I'm a grumpy, 62-YO guy. My mild-mannered 91-YO mom, who reads all the AK progressive blogs, came up with the "quilting club" analogy.

Alaska Is My Home said...

Thanks Phil - I trust that you and AKM can agree to disagree if that's the case and still both be completely and utterly awesome, and effective at progressive blogging. It's what we do... we aren't sheep like the whack jobs. Makes it a little tougher yes, and it's important to drop the little stuff when we have to make a huge effort to solidify our front, but it's healthy to question and more so to question out loud during times such as this.

If you want perfect solidarity devoid of thinking and principle, hey there's a whole party out there that would love you to come on over!

Alaska's politics and reputation have been a hot potato in many people's hands for quite awhile - I'd rather be able to see all sides because I usually learn something from each point of view. I have nicknames for each Alaska blog that I follow because each has a distinct personality and I love 'em all.

Alaska Is My Home said...

Silly me, I didn't say "If you want perfect solidarity..." to Phil, but rather other posters. Duh. I should proof read my posts!

Anonymous said...

Phil is not wrong on his comments regarding mudflats. If anyone were paying attention it would be noticeable that several valuable contributors have left due to the moderation and the limitations on what can and can't be discussed.

While it is the blog owners choice to allow or not allow whatever they want, if you use too heavy a hand on moderation, and state flatly that certain topics are "off limits", then you might just lose people who offer a lot of insight into a great many topics above and beyond what you disallow.

Anonymous said...

So really, deep deep down, you're just a very unhappy person at the core.

Aren't you ?

Sucks to go through life so angry all of the time.

Anonymous said...

anon@5:55...Oh sorry that is sucks to be you...!
Guess what? We don't care! crawl back into your hole.

clark said...

my two cents... next time there's an opportunity to blog from a national convention or netroots nation or similar event, why don't you go, rather than stepping aside and letting shannyn, AKM, linda, et al take care of it?
not trying to slight any of them, or the work they are doing -- all of it important -- but you seem to dig a lot deeper, and are more fearless, comprehensive, and willing to take people to the mat, on principle. and probably less affected by the star power of bill clinton, howard dean, meteor blades and the like.

as we saw during the '08 primary, the benson-berkowitz race, there are just as many roadblocks to progressive candidates and causes within the democratic party as there are from the opposition. a go-along-to-get-along philosophy isn't going to be constructive.

AKM said...

No topic is off limits. Your moderation has nothing to do with Sonia Sotomayor or Mark Begich. At various times, you have violated the following guidelines:

No ad hominem attacks on other bloggers/commenters

No outright solicitation and traffic diversion to your own blog (i.e. leaving a comment that has no content other than a link back to your own blog, also known in the wider world as 'pimping your blog').

I appreciate your work most of the time, but when you leave insulting remarks about me, or my content, it generally results in a barrage of emails I have to deal with about why you are doing such a thing. I don't have time for it.

And when you leave "Here's a link to my blog, come on over" and I have to tell other people they can't do that, it isn't fair to them.

So after the third or fourth time I had to moderate your comments after the fact, I've decided to save us both the grief and put you on pre-emptive moderation. I don't like to get bogged down in blog drama.

I have more rules than your mother's quilting club, because there are more people at Mudflats than at your mother's quilting club. You may not like rules, but they exist anyway, and they apply to everyone.

I cannot expect anyone to follow guidelines unless they apply to everybody equally. Most people understand this and don't have a problem with it. If they do, we understand, but that's a choice everyone makes for themselves and they can comment elsewhere, or use their own blogs to share their thoughts. Mudflats is not required reading.

So, read the guidelines and if you can abide by them, great. If you can't, that's OK too, but if you have questions it's OK to ask me about them, rather than posting assumptions that aren't the case.

Let me make it clear, since you've brought this up more than once. Comments are not moderated for content, except for the pregnancy topic for which there are other blogs devoted exclusively. Comments are moderated for manners and adherence to the policy guidelines.

Amy Jones said...

Dear Phil,

....I just composed a rather long comment about your negative mention of Mudflats - however, since one of my suggestions was that you should talk to AKM directly since I am quite certain you are more than passing acquaintances - and that I have met you both - and that both of you add value to the dialogue in Alaska - I think I will call you instead. Guess I will take my own advice.

- talk to you soon - AJ, aka Writing from Alaska -

Philip Munger said...


I can't abide by those guidelines.

In the future should you call one of my comments an "ad hominem attack," please quote the so-called attack, as I didn't make a copy, and you erased the "attack."

IIRC, I have emailed you and discussed my feelings about your blog's comment policy.

Once again, I have no idea what you are specifically referencing, as the comment you claim to be egregious is unavailable to me.

Re your claim that I'm blog whoring when I cite a post at PA, that is bullshit, thank you.


Why don't you just email me the comment, as I'm not about to go looking for it.