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Thursday, April 26, 2018
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Can’t get past ADN paywall? Subscribe to our newsletter

 

1904 political cartoon of President Theodore Roosevelt from the New York World. Roosevelt built the Panama Canal but was routinely skewered by the media. Not much has changed.

A lifetime of participating as a news writer and news consumer leaves Must Read Alaska with data points aplenty on the nature of bias.

Hawkins

It just creeps in, no matter what. Even good reporters can’t help but write the news through the lens of their personal history.

Here at Must Read we honor the notion that having a viewpoint is acceptable, so long as you acknowledge it to readers and do not lull them into thinking you’re in the bias-free zone.

Therein lies the problem: The media is, by and large, populated by liberal activists who play-act at neutrality but are merely “useful idiots” for the political Left.

The Anchorage Daily News made this an art form. Under McClatchy, ADN was the best-shod political heel in Alaska, especially so after the shuttering of the competing Anchorage Times. 

When the ADN became the Dispatch under Alice Rogoff, it graduated from a political kitten heel into a stiletto.

The Dispatch leans ever leftward. Rogoff, who was seen dining with the governor at the Governor’s Mansion just days before the Legislature convened in January, has found that subscribers are heading for the exits.

Her solution to the financial bleeding was to put up a paywall, a barrier that requires readers to subscribe before they can access stories online.

Others have tried this gambit and precious few have met with success. Almost all news sites have found that paywalls truncate the size of their readership, and drastically. Some report that they gain a few subscribers, but not nearly enough to make up for the losses.

The problem with the ADN paywall is it is more of a suggestion than an actual wall. If you want to read the Dispatch online you just use a Chrome browser, click the box at the upper right corner that allows you to browse “incognito,” which means the Dispatch won’t be able to collect “cookies” that show it what pages you’re clicking on so it can throw a payment box between you and the news. There are numerous other ways to defeat a paywall — for example, removing the ? and everything that follows it after “html” in the URL line also does the trick. Or you can delete all your “cookies.”

The ADN’s paywall is not much more than a porous donation system disguised as a demand, when it works at all. Recently, there are simply no paywalls on any of the stories, and no explanation as to whether you’re in your 10-free-per-month mode or if they’ve simply abandoned the paywall without comment.

But will Alaskans pay the Dispatch to get past the fake paywall to read what many consider to be fake news, way too often?

A recent survey of attitudes toward the Dispatch suggests not. Self-identified Democrats make up about 14 percent of Alaskans, and those folks do dearly love the Dispatch — 83 percent of them are admittedly favorable toward it. These card carrying Democrats might pay, if they can afford it.

But for those who self-identify as conservative and very conservative — that’s over 50 percent of Alaskans — the dissatisfaction with the ADN is about 75 percent.

With numbers like that, and knowing that many of those liberal Democrats are rural Alaskans who don’t have a huge amount of disposable cash income, the ADN firewall has a big hurdle to overcome.

After all, the people whom advertisers want are the ones with disposable income and the ability to access goods and services. Those people are showing an overwhelming degree of disapproval with the ADN, according to the survey.

THE NEWS IS DEAD; LONG LIVE THE NEWS

Roughly half of America figured out during the last election cycle that the news industry was rigged for Hillary Clinton, and although purveyors of news did their best to dismantle the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, he won massive support — enough to win decisively.

While Trump didn’t prevail with the popular vote, he spent $380.3 million less than his opponent Hillary Clinton, and cleverly figured out the path to victory through the Electoral College.

The entrenched media clearly doesn’t get it, as it continues its barrage on the new president, with no reflection on its worshipful coverage of President Barack Obama for nearly a decade. And, with no self awareness of the degree to which voters discounted media coverage and swung the other way this time.

The media also cannot see that the information business is changing. Non-mainstream news sites are coming on strong. Even in Alaska, independent news sites have popped up, and some have flourished.

In Ketchikan, SitNews.us is alive and well as a community news and information outlet, with an impressive advertising model.

The Anchorage Daily Planet continues to publish online every day.

Other citizen journalist sites, such as last year’s Alaska Grinder News,  have come and gone, but EnergyDudesandDivas continues to flourish under the leadership of Deb Brollini. CraigMedred.news keeps tabs on hunting, fishing, and other Alaska mayhem, with a focus on the out-of-doors and an occasional foray into politics.

The Alaska Support Industry Alliance publishes a business-friendly point-of-view at The Alaska Headlamp, and conservative think tank Alaska Policy Forum is crunching numbers and publishing data regularly.

A new conservative online news aggregator is about to launch in Alaska along the lines of the Drudge Report. The early drafts look promising.

Most of these news and information sites are one-person operations, and none has the backing of billionaire-by-marriage Rogoff, who is married to the head of the Carlyle Group, a private equity investment company that manages a portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund. Instability will be the name of the game in a business that demands much and profits little.

PANAMA CANAL IS IN OUR REAR VIEW MIRROR

Speaking of profits, while we loved the Panama Canal, built by American ingenuity under the leadership of President Teddy Roosevelt, we’re back from our seven-nation sojourn, we’re “on station,” and writing daily once more. No more vacations for Must Read Alaska. Write to us at suzanne@mustreadalaska.com if you wish to buy an ad: We’re open for business.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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