For those who believe the journalism motto “democracy dies in darkness,” Alaska’s news coverage just got more light.
The Alaska Beacon debuted Wednesday as an online nonprofit publication featuring reporting by a four-person staff, including three formerly at news-related jobs in Juneau. Its content is available free at its website (alaskabeacon.com) and via subscription newsletter, and can also be republished free of charge by other news organizations.
“The Alaska Beacon aims to be an outlet people who want to better understand Alaska and its government can turn to,” an article published at the website Wednesday states. The cost-free sharing with other media is because “the number of full-time journalists covering Alaska legislative sessions has declined as news organizations have cut back and consolidated under financial pressure.”
The Juneau Empire is among the publications that will on occasion include the Beacon’s content.
“The Alaska Beacon’s newsroom includes many talented reporters, including multiple former Empire reporters, and as a voracious reader of news, I look forward to seeing their work,” Juneau Empire editor Ben Hohenstatt said. “As traditionally structured newsrooms continue to face challenges, I think quality reporting focused on state government being made freely available to publications is a good thing. The Alaska Beacon’s reporting will augment the resources the Empire will continue to direct toward covering statewide issues that hit close to home.”
The Beacon’s staff includes Yereth Rosen (formerly at Arctic Today and Reuters), Andrew Kitchenman (KTOO-FM); James Brooks (Anchorage Daily News) and Lisa Phu (public information officer for the City and Borough of Juneau). Brooks and Phu are also former Empire reporters.
The Beacon is operated by States Newsroom, which now has outlets in 27 states plus the District of Columbia. It is generally described by industry publications as a straightforward facts-based news operation that is somewhat left-leaning in determining its coverage.
Indications of those leanings are reflected in how some Alaska news sites and blogs reported the debut of the Beacon. Dermot Cole’s self-titled liberal blog declared “Alaska political news coverage stands to improve, thanks to a new nonprofit enterprise.” The conservative news site Must Read Alaska asserts the newcomer “is ideologically driven and backed by some of the biggest names in dark money in politics…which intends to shape the narrative toward the Democratic Party.”
• Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at firstname.lastname@example.org.