Empire should clarify its sources

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2005

Thank you for stating the Empire is predisposed on issues such as the Juneau Access road (Empire Feb. 20). As a lifelong Alaskan and an informed advocate of Juneau Access, it is disturbing the Empire's selective reporting and quoting of persons that a reader would perceive as esteemed, informed and qualified. Your audience expects and deserves unprejudiced truth without manipulation of factual information.

Many editorials and reports lack clear identity of their source's expertise. The Empire seems to constantly spotlight and quote sources that oppose building the Juneau Access road. I cannot find in the Empire archives equal or similar reporting from knowledgeable resident advocates to balance information on the Juneau Access project.

To demonstrate, the Empire has reported or quoted Emily Ferry, with various titles, at least 100 times in 30 separate issues in less than two years (research available upon request) damning and protesting nearly every vital economic industry project in Southeast, including fishing, logging, mining, road building and improvements, all things that have made this grand place we call home enjoyable today.

With Ms. Ferry's prominent recognition in the Empire, a reader may mistakenly believe she has immense knowledge and experience in the needs of us Alaskans. If Internet reporting is correct, Ms. Ferry hails from Ellington, Conn., is a 2001 graduate of the University of New Hampshire and was the coordinator for the Alaska Coalition, an East Coast group with sponsors as the Sierra Club and SEACC that adamantly opposes use of most Alaska resources. Ms. Ferry states (Journal Inquirer, Oct. 2, 2001) she had never visited Alaska prior to a bicycle trip across America that year opposing opening ANWR.

Ms. Ferry's first Empire statement appears in the March 3, 2003, issue. Without intent to undermine Ms. Ferry's integrity, this helps clarify her origin and expertise as an example to your Alaska subscribers. Understanding a source's background may help broaden your readers' perception and knowledge of important issues that they learn from your newspaper.

It is appreciated when sources are identified by longevity, experiences and/or employment and needs as an Alaskan. Information provided by knowledgeable persons that have walked the path and know the issues may better represent Alaskans needs than a newer resident without experience and understanding. Please encourage your editors and reporters to clearly identify their resources to help give your audience a balanced viewpoint on the important issues.

Kathy Hosford


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