When we started this experiment, a newsroom made up of volunteer editors and contributors, we didn’t know what would happen. We had some ideas, tried them out, adjusted the ideas, and kept moving forward.
The goal of Alaska Commons Media was to provide a space for voices in Alaska that weren’t getting heard, either because of the (occasional) cutthroat nature of the news cycle or the pieces of a story not coming together easily. Because of the nature of our newsroom, our team was able to spend a little more time on reporting on stories than most journalists are typically allowed. That extra time and patience made it possible to feature stories that influenced policy, held the powerful accountable, and evoked discussion. (Sometimes these discussions were productive, and sure, sometimes they devolved into a flame war. But, they were generally engaging.)
Occasionally, our stories moved people to action in ways we didn’t expect and are proud to have had a small part in stirring up.
One of the lasting lessons from this project is you can’t be afraid to try something different, even if you don’t have it all figured out. While we may have not been able to find a way to sustain our publication financially, we see other small newsrooms trying new ways to fund themselves and we hope they succeed.
Journalists in Alaska need your support. They need your defense when their access is restricted by those in power, and your funding when they lose advertisers or underwriters over controversial stories. Without your support, the state of Alaska journalism, the journalism field in general, is at dire risk.
Over the five years we’ve been in operation, our publication has featured stories from dozens of contributors. We were honored to receive 34 Alaska Press Club awards, which are judged and awarded by our peers in the Alaska journalism field. That recognition helped keep us going, despite our struggle with finding a sustainable model. But recognition does not necessarily translate to income, not matter how much you want it.
We are shutting our doors for now. One day, with the right funding and willpower, we may find a way to bring this project back to life. Until then, we will archive the site so it remains accessible for our contributors to demonstrate their work, or for new readers to find if they’re interested in one of the topics we’ve covered. (Yes, even the memes.)
Our readership was the thing that truly sustained us. Many of you have contributed stories or let us know about things we should cover. Your encouragement and criticisms helped us become a stronger publication, and we can’t thank you enough.
We couldn’t have built Alaska Commons Media without you, and we’re so grateful you could be a part of it. We gave it a try, and now it’s time to move forward.
From all of us, to all of you: thank you.