Alaska editorials

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December 29, 2015 Updated: December 29, 2015 at 11:20 am

By The Associated Press (AP) — Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

Dec. 23, 2015

Ketchikan Daily News: Working together

It's the Last Frontier's last frontier — the Arctic.

The groundwork is being laid for infrastructure in Alaska's coldest spot.

This will require research both on and off shore, and funding, which is contained in the federal government's year-end budget bill.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has prioritized the Arctic, emphasizing its value to lawmakers on the Beltway. Their commitment will be necessary.

The Arctic is itself a natural resource, which contains a plethora of other attractions, especially oil. But it also has all manner of other resources.

Alaska and the nation must be active in the Arctic not only to participate in its development, but its preservation.

To that end, the budget bill provides funding to improve navigational aid and weather forecasting abilities in the Arctic. For example, buoys are needed to guide commercial fishermen, recreationalists and tourism vessels, and for the benefit of international commerce.

Infrastructure will include a $7.2 million towards a polar icebreaker, the funding for which is in the budget. It also provides $640 million for a new national security cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard.

The budget also includes $10.8 billion — $1 billion more than President Obama requested — to improve readiness, modernize vessels and aircraft, and other improvements for the Coast Guard for an improving presence in the Arctic.

These improvements and other expenditures of federal funding are in the best interest of Alaska and the nation in a global economy.


Dec. 27, 2015

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Nonprofit purchase means return to local ownership, few changes

As reported on the pages of this newspaper and in other media, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner is being sold to the Helen E. Snedden Foundation, a Fairbanks-based nonprofit organization. The change in ownership, which will become final early next year, is the latest chapter in the News-Miner's 112-year history and one that will return the paper to local ownership for the first time in more than two decades. What will this mean for the paper, its employees and the Fairbanks community? So far, the likely changes that have been identified are few.

Many Interior residents, particularly those who didn't grow up in Fairbanks, may not know the Snedden family's history in the community. C.W. "Bill" Snedden's involvement with the News-Miner began in 1950, when the paper's owner, Austin E. Lathrop, commissioned him to do an efficiency study of the enterprise. When Snedden completed his report recommending investment of $100,000 in the business, Lathrop balked at the expense and said he'd prefer to sell the business instead, Snedden said he'd gladly buy it. The handshake deal led to Snedden's ownership of the News-Miner for four decades.

Snedden's effect on the paper and the community were significant. He and his wife, Helen, had intended to get the paper back to profitable operation and sell it for a gain about a year after their purchase — but, according to Snedden, they "became intrigued with the paper and its possibilities, as well as the possibilities of Alaska." Their decision to stay proved consequential: Under Lathrop's ownership, the News-Miner had been ardently opposed to statehood for Alaska, and Snedden asked one of the paper's editors to research and brief him on the issue. He promptly reversed the paper's editorial course, and the News-Miner became a staunch supporter of statehood, giving the movement toward becoming the U.S. flag's 49th star a much-needed boost.

The Snedden family owned the paper until a few years after C.W. Snedden's death in 1989. In 1992, the Sneddens sold the paper to Dean Singleton and Richard Scudder, who owned the Media NewsGroup newspaper chain but kept the News-Miner ownership separate, a stipulation of the sale by the Sneddens.

Singleton and Scudder have owned the paper from then until the current sale, which will return the paper to ownership by the foundation set up by Helen Snedden in the years prior to her death in 2012.

What does nonprofit ownership mean for the News-Miner? The effects on the paper's content are likely to be relatively minor. Snedden Foundation trustee Virginia Farmier, a former News-Miner employee under the Sneddens' ownership and friend of the Snedden family, is well acquainted with the newspaper and the Fairbanks community.

One goal Ms. Farmier has communicated thus far for the newspaper has been the strengthening of internship opportunities for University of Alaska Fairbanks journalism students. This dovetails with the foundation's goal of fostering journalism education in Fairbanks — since 2003, the foundation, at Helen Snedden's direction, has sponsored the C.W. Snedden endowed chair at the UAF Journalism Department, which brings an accomplished practicing journalist to teach college journalists each year.

One of the more consequential structural changes of the sale may take place on this page: Under nonprofit ownership, there are federal regulations about advocacy for political candidates.

In practical terms, this will mean the News-Miner will no longer be able to endorse candidates for office in its editorials. Making endorsements hasn't been the paper's standard practice, though in recent decades the News-Miner has done so a handful of times.

This doesn't, however, mean the paper won't be able to advocate for causes and issues important to the community. After all, it was C.W. Snedden himself who made the decision to throw the paper's weight behind statehood. With a return to local ownership, the News-Miner should still be the same newspaper that has grown up with the Interior community and one that will continue to grow and evolve with Fairbanks.