Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Praise of the Alaska Public Radio Network

While researching how coverage of the arts has changed in Anchorage and statewide this past year, with the continuing demise of the Anchorage Daily News, expansion of arts coverage by the Alaska Dispatch and other matters, I checked through the 131 stories listed so far in December at the Alaska Public Radio Network's news site. There wasn't much arts coverage, which is too bad. Ten to twenty years ago, APRN's Alaska arts coverage was the best statewide reporting available. APRN's Johanna Eurich was and is one of the best arts reporters in Alaska history, and it is too bad the network hasn't found a way to keep her coverage going like they once did.

Another subject all but missing from APRN's news site was one that is ubiquitous at the ADN, the Dispatch, at at many of Alaska's progressive blogs, including Progressive Alaska: Sarah Palin.

Of the 131 stories, here is my accounting of the subjects covered. I assigned each story only one tag, even though some covered more than one of topics listed:

Human interest, various community stories ------ 26
General environmental subjects -------------------- 15
Tribal & Alaska Native subjects --------------------- 13
Alaska economy and infrastructure ---------------- 10
Gas & oil industry (and their problems) ----------- 9
State politics ----------------------------------------- 8
Health care ------------------------------------------- 8
Alaska Congressional delegation ------------------ 7
Fisheries --------------------------------------------- 7
Education -------------------------------------------- 5
Gov. Sean Parnell ----------------------------------- 4
Anchorage politics ----------------------------------- 3
Cruise ship industry --------------------------------- 3
Game and game regulation ------------------------- 3
Mining ------------------------------------------------ 3
Sarah Palin ------------------------------------------- 3
Logging ------------------------------------------------ 2
Alaskans of note in action outside the state ------ 2

Of the three Palin stories, one was about Andree McLeod's latest request for clarification of executive ethics statutes, and two were about Palin's Elmendorf Air Force Base book signing.

APRN's stories from December 1st through the 21st were almost universally of a very high standard, and attempted to portray important events throughout this huge, challenging news environment that is Alaska.

Good job. APRN!


Wolfe Tone said...


I've noticed that when it comes to staying focused on actual news, APRN seems to do a much better job than NPR does.

John Creed said...

APRN does a good job covering rural Alaska, including with member stations throughout the state that have bona fide news divisions (not all do, unfortunately).

Over the years Steve Heimel has become a venerable Alaska institution. (I hear he's immortal, for unlike every other human being, he's been around so long that he's never going to die. That's just a rumor, though, which I haven't checked out.)

Steve delivers the news with a classic radio voice. As a talk show host, he is informed and informative on a vast range of Alaska issues. He takes risks as a journalist to find the truth.

The rest of the APRN family serves Alaska with some great journalism, too.

John Creed

clark said...

if i could listen to only the APRN parts of KSKA broadcasts i would. just cannot stand NPR for the last few years. heimel is surely the best journalist in alaska today, or possibly ever.

Anonymous said...

APRN is on the right track to ignore the Palin mania, just as they do fairly well on ignoring irrelevance generally.

NPR is another story. National public radio is today, and has long been, a media service which tends to the right, editorially and in regards 'news' content, a right leaning bias was long ago established as fact.

NPR tends to trot out all the same hack pundits as the rest of the mainstream media with a heavy emphasis on cameo appearances by the darlings of the right.

If it weren't for their other programming, I'd suggest withdrawing support for NPR. If the criteria for support were based only on their 'news' policy, I'd have to say they don't deserve public money because they don't represent the public.

As to the overly laudatory praise here being heaped on heimel, I can only say you've not been paying very close attention.

While heimel may indeed have been around a long time, attempting to categorize him as being the best Alaska has to offer is simply an ill-conceived and misplaced delusion.


clark said...

who would you suggest instead, creeper?
[out of journalists working today.]

Anonymous said...

Did APRN miss the Ted Stevens/VECO corruption story or were they just too timid to bite the hand that fed them ?

No doubt Heimel is a legend, it's too bad they've muzzled him all of these years.

Creepy coincidence, Joe Boehm used to be APRN's landlord

Anonymous said...

It's not my point to attempt to designate any one journalist as the best Alaska has to offer.

But as far as heimel, he's been caught mischaracterizing reality in favor of attempting to preserve and project a bit of his own conservative bias on several occasions.

Any Alaska journalist, for that matter, any journalist at all who spouts wingnut talking points as if they represented reality can't be considered best of anything, let alone be classed as the best Alaska has to offer in the way of journalists.


Philip Munger said...


Maybe I know Steve better than you do, maybe not.

Sometimes the way he deals with that zone between being a reporter, or program host, or commentator is frustrating. But we could do way worse.

Maybe he knows that he's the voice of continuity at APRN, and has to make compromises to keep the whole structure afloat for whatever good that might do. He certainly deserves consideration on that level far more than President Obama, for instance, who people have floated similar arguments about these past two weeks.

clark said...

"It's not my point to attempt to designate any one journalist as the best Alaska has to offer."
oh, c'mon, freeps! you have an opinion about everything else... why do you want to cop out this time? live dangerously... drop a name or two. hasn't anyone ever written or broadcast anything that moved you?

clark said...

and, y'know, feel free to nominate yourself! ;

Philip Munger said...



Anonymous said...

well, phil, I can appreciate your admission that heimel may equivocate, but that only appears to lends more support to what I said as opposed to being an argument refuting what I said.

Whether heimel is compelled by one reason or another, papering over contradictions, sacrificing both personal integrity and journalistic ethics for expedience sake still doesn't buy much as far as my observations.

My point isn't to attempt to tear heimel down as much as put the overweening adulation in a more realistic and pragmatic perspective.

Anonymous said...

and clark, like I said, I see nothing to be gained by the jejune attempt to appoint anyone as the best Alaska has to offer.

That effort wasn't something I constructed and I'm not about to be drawn into such sophomoric games.

I assume you're not still in jr high, so perhaps it's time you shed the compulsion to continue to appoint and then dote on who you might wish was the most popular kid in class.

clark said...

accolades where they're due. heimel might not be perfect but i can't think of any out of the crop who are working now who are quite as good.

what's a 12-letter word for PUTZ?

Anonymous said...

a putz would begin by pronouncing a surety, and subsequently conclude with an equivocation.

You began by describing heimel as surely the best journalist in Alaska today,

and you conclude with an attempt to walk back, or disassociate yourself from your earlier pronouncement of that surety.

It's your conclusion offered is that you simply can't think, and have no idea if your previous surety can be relied upon, whether it is or is not the surety you pronounced or not.

You've offered only an explicit concession to your own foibles, clark, you've not delivered any indictment or attestation to confirm or validate your self imagined ascendancy.

clark said...

i walked back nothing. i stand by the original statement. there is no one else i can think of besides heimel who has so much perspective on state issues, and an ability to report and discuss them succinctly and productively. that he chooses subjects carefully, as philip points out here; and overcame moves by APRN to censor his scope and subject matter, by not quitting and engaging the critics/censors is [to me] further evidence of pragmatism and effectiveness, not a fatal character flaw.
i respect that you're not drawn into a side conversation that you consider a waste of time or unmerited. on the other hand, your inability to engage in even a casual way is kind of sad, but par for the course.

clark said...

i walked back nothing, and stand by the original statement completely.
heimel is simply the greatest -- no other journalist has such a thorough understanding of state issues, and an ability to nurture and guide a succinct and productive conversation. and, as philip points out here, while taking the high road and concentrating on points that matter.
in dealing with people who wanted to censor his scope and content, he engaged his critics, rather than just hauling off and quitting -- which is, to me, even more reason to respect his judgment and ability -- although you are of course free to call it a character flaw.
it doesn't seem like it, but i do respect that you won't be roped into conversations you don't consider valid or merited. but that you can't even casually discuss anything without endless put-downs is just kind of sad, though completely expected.

clark said...

eh, i didn't realize comments were being moderated now, and typed the second one from memory... what a waste of time.......