December 04, 2008

A blog by any other name ...

Anchorage radio mouth Dan Fagan has started an Alaska news/politics/opinion website/blog. It's called The Alaska Standard.

Here's what my buddy BJK over at the Press has to say about the new site:

 Alaska Standard’s slogan is “Raising the banner of journalism in Alaska,” of which Fagan says, “that’s in regard to shaking loose some of that bias and giving both sides of the story,” noting “I think we’ve got some great journalists in this state, but I do believe that bias is pretty obvious and injected into a lot of mainstream media outlets.”

In recent days The Alaska Standard’s stories have criticized the Anchorage Assembly’s approval of five-year contracts for labor unions, noted the Permanent Fund’s $10 billion drop in recent months, and taken the Daily News to task for perceived support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s offer of heating oil to rural Alaskans.

While Flashlight doesn’t always agree with the opinions offered on The Alaska Standard, we have to applaud Fagan’s ambition, especially in the wake of the loss of the long-running conservative Voice of the Times website. And we enthusiastically agree with Fagan on one point: “I think the more, the better; everyone’s going to have their own little niche,” he says. “There’s a lot of opportunity out there.”

A cursory glance at The Alaska Standard reveals it to be ... well ... a blog.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It's filled with opinions, many of them unattributed, like the one in their article about the Anchorage Assembly that the  Assembly is an "arrogant, self-absorbed bunch of buffoons." 

Again ... not that there's anything wrong with that.

I agree with the Press's and Fagan's assessment that there's plenty of room in the marketplace of ideas for a site like this. It may fill the void left by the Voice of the Times (of which I was a big fan and daily reader) and it's always a good thing to have as many ideas and opinions out there as possible. That's the beauty of the "series of tubes" and blogs in particular. 

I love political blogs and read every one that's listed on the left side of this page.

I guess the problem I have is when ambitious sites like this declare their intention to "raise the banner of journalism" and pretend to be something they are not. 

Let me try to be clear on this, as I think I have a special perspective on this as both a journalist and as the former publisher of one of the first politically-oriented websites in Alaska. The argument that many bloggers, AM radio talk show hosts and "citizen journalists" seem to be making is that the mainstream media is so full of biased and political bent, it's up to them to put out information and reporting to counter it. 

And that's just fine. Put out your opinion. Get your thoughts into the marketplace of ideas. But remember one thing: there is, and always will be, a place for trained journalists, folks who spend all of their time chasing the stories that matter to their community and trying to present them in an unfiltered, unbiased way. Sure, journalists have political ideals of their own and sometimes it's difficult to keep those biases from creeping into stories. But every journo I know ALWAYS has that fact in mind and holds close to their heart the true purpose of their profession: to serve their community.

Journalists, unlike bloggers, always have their bylines attached to what they write and face consequences for getting facts wrong or for painting a story in a slanted way.

You are a blog, Alaska Standard, as are the rest of Alaska's political opinion blogs. Go with it. You are not trained journalists, you are sellers of a political idealogy. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that.


Anonymous said...

{snicker, snicker...}
Fagan has a blog, in a effort to raise the banner of journalism in Alaska?

Let me guess...

Fagan thinks Mat Su Valley News is not humor but the real thing...

Fagan wants advertisement.

Charisse will be contributing.

Fagan thinks that "I'm a native man"-undertaker Leman will contribute.

Fagan will call himself a "reporter", remaking and reworking stories so that each sentence is loaded with his opinion. (could someone please send him the definition of a columinist? opps I forgot, he already is a columinist at ADN).

Last of all, Fagan probably thinks he'll get a date or two (anonymous dating) out of the effort.

So am I that far off? Cause I didn't visit his blog yet...

{snicker, snicker}

Philip Munger said...

Nice, thoughtful essay on Kelley's article, Aaron. I think I'm going to write an article about your article about Brendan's article about Dan and Charisse's blog.

...nothing wrong with that...

brendan said...

semantics, whether a blog or "news/opinion outlet,'. blog implies one dumbass spouting their opinion, IMO. for further discussion of Munger's opinion of my piece on Fagan's piece, see the comments at

Aaron Selbig said...

That's what I'm sayin, man, but I think it's more than semantics. It matters how you frame things and I think it's dishonest to frame opinion-spouting as a news outlet.

baja said...

So glad to see you in the thick of it Aaron.

You know, for a conservative, Dan is mildly entertaining. It's not like intellectually stimulating, but more like chili fries with Tabasco kind of good... cheap, burning and filling.

Neil said...

I think you should challenge Dan to a fight. Again. For no real reason.

Anonymous said...


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