Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Visiting Anchorage, Alaska for $32

We’ve recently subscribed to the Anchorage Daily News. For about $32 they are sending us a months worth of the newspaper, via second class mail. Much of the news is the same national and international news we’ve read in our own paper. But the news on Anchorage and all of Alaska make the $32 a great bargain. We have enjoyed many little insights into life in another part of the world. Here are a few things we’ve enjoyed:

Beautiful pictures: Every edition has several colorful pictures of amazing scenery. We’ve seen pictures of the mountains, caribou, whales, more whales, and so on.

The trials of moving: R. Brett Stirling wrote a column about moving. Most of this column is on flying into an island with his pack of huskies in a tiny plane. After reading this to my daughters we talked about how Alaska was so big that it was often easier to fly than drive or take a boat.

Crime: A 2003 Caterpiller Model 246 Turbo Skid Steer Loader was stolen. The thing that struck me was the line that this was the only one of its kind in all of Alaska.

The wildlife: Ajowan, a sea lion, had been sick and undernourished, and in danger of dying. It was taken to the Alaska SeaLife Center, and after three months it went from 100 pounds to 175 pounds and was released in the wild. They attached a radio transmitter to track the movements of the seal lion. It was interesting to read that sometimes the antennas get chewed up by other sea lions.

Gasoline: It seems like every edition has something about the price of gas, or the supply of gas, or the plans for more oil exploration. About every third edition has oil related news on the front page. There are many cities in the US that have specific focuses: Washington DC is on politics, Silicon Valley is on technology, and Los Angeles is largely on TV & movies. Well Alaska is focused on oil. When the price climbs, they’re happy because the state will get more money. The state collects a pretty hefty tax, so much that the headline on the 21st was that every man, woman, and child in Alaska was will get over a thousand dollar dividend.

Ghost ships: The September 23rd edition reported that a ship had been found floating out at sea. It appeared to be a Russian barge, but so far there’s been no additional information. It had first been sighted back in May, out by the Aleutian chain. As it drifted closer to the main shipping lines the Coast Guard finally boarded and towed it. No one has claimed it yet. I wonder, how does a ship that big get misplaced?

Different ads: Most of the advertising is pretty typical American. There’s cars for sale, cell phones, houses, and so on. But every so often I’ll do a double take, for example the paper is running a full page ad selling a 2007 Moose Calendar for only $3.95.

There is a nice small town feel to the paper. Alaska has just over 600,000 people, and about half live in or around Anchorage. There was a touching story of a woman who has been a foster mother for 30 years and helped many troubled teenagers turn into decent adults.

As part of the small town feel, the paper often mentions locals who are doing well else where in the world. There was almost a full page article on Vicica Genaux who is performing in New York as a mezzo-soprano.

This has been a fun way to educate myself and the family about Alaska. Our daughters have enjoyed the news articles I’ve read to them. (Of course, the older two turn to the comics first.) It helps them have a better understanding of what life in Alaska is like.

One of the few down sides is the paper arrive very erratically. Normally it arrives a week to ten days late. The first paper was a Sunday paper, the 17th of September. We got nothing the next day. Then we got three papers, the 16th, the 19th and the 21st. Then nothing for a couple days, and then four papers.

Reading the Anchorage Daily News isn’t as good as being there; however, for $32 it is a great value. If you are interested, you can call (907) 257 4400.

We’ve enjoyed the couple weeks so far. Maybe next we’ll try a paper in Maine or Florida.

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ChristineMM said...

I really enjoyed this post. What a great idea. I have never heard of this as a homeschooling learning experience and think it is fantastic!

Another interesting thing would be to compare news side by side, the same dates, from different areas like you said, Maine, Florida, etc. along with Alaska, to compare how the coverage of the news is different in the various areas, which focus more on what topic, etc.

If you go with a Maine newspaper I would recommend the Bangor paper for more of a rural tone than the Portland paper.

I also feel that a lot can be gleaned from the paper version of a newspaper vs. the online version.

I was greatly disturbed to find out my town library does not keep paper copies of newspapers, even quite recent ones. Instead they use archived articles on the Internet (not even microfiche). I think a lot will be lost, a lot of other interesting things like viewing ads, or the real font that was used, seeing the layout of the paper and the photos. Viewing it online all in one font and not in the context of laying on the page is not the same at all.

I have always dreamed of going to Alaska and took the opportunity for my honeymoon. We did an Alaskan cruise which was my first cruise and was interesting in that regard. To see the state from the water was different and also we go to visit glaciers by water view and also a landlocked city.

I do hope to someday spend a summer in Alaska, driving around, perhaps in an RV, so we can be in control of our schedules (rather than being part of a tour) and so we can go from city to city and also camp out in between (rather than relying on being in a hotel or a B&B).

The thing that struck me the most about Alaska was how wild it is and how much it truly is like the last unspoiled wilderness (at least owned by America).

Anonymous said...

I have in-laws in Alaska (The Alaskan Raw Fur Company). We do get the feeling life is different there! We joke that the last step after Vermont is Alaska (but we're not headed there).

Henry Cate said...

Christine, thanks for the kind words.

Years ago I use to get various papers from around the states. My member was that for the most part each paper used the same sources for the national and international stories and didn't put of their own spin into the story. That would happen in the editorial pages.

One of the interesting things about the Anchorage Daily News is every edition had a full page of letters to the editor.

R. Brett Stirling said...

I'm glad you liked my article from the ADN. Life in Bush Alaska is very different from Anchorage. One of the reasons the paper asked me to write these articles is because even people in Anchorage have no idea what life is like in the Bush.

If you are interested, I have a blog too with links to more of my writing and lots of pictures of life out here:
Thanks again for reading my writing and I'm glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

I am a homeschool mom up in Fairbanks, Alaska. For a free way to experience Fairbanks life and news, the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer has most of their newspapers on their website. Best of all it is free. They also have a webcam so you can see live what is happening outside their building. We get more rural "bush" stories up here than Anchorage. The link is

Also, the reason a lot of people fly in Alaska, is that very few of the towns in Alaska are connected to the road system so to get there, you must fly or if you feel adventurous enough take a boat in summer or dogsled or snowmachine in winter.