Dismantling the myths of newspaper production

What and who is The Northern Light?

The Northern Light is an entirely student-run newspaper at the University of Alaska Anchorage. It has been in publication since Sept. 19, 1988, after the merger between UAA and Anchorage Community College combined two newspapers: the UAA Voice and the Anchorage Community College Accent.

Since then, the publication has also moved to encompass an online news site, www.thenorthernlight. org, and uses social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to share news with the UAA community.

All writers, photographers, editors, advertising representatives and graphics designers are students enrolled in at least six credit hours within UAA and have a GPA of at least a 2.0. Higher-ranking positions on staff require higher a GPA but vary from position to position.

Why should anyone care? Aren’t newspapers going out of business?

People should care about the news in their community because a free press is the foundation of a functioning democracy. Without it, how could people be informed enough to make decision in their own community? Who would hold public officials accountable for their actions? Who would document aspects of our culture for future generations?

In every free society, a free press is revered as necessary. And in countries that aren’t free, journalists and honest reporting are quieted though varying means. Journalists and citizen- journalists (bloggers, vloggers, et cetera) can be intimidated through the government or illegal organization and threatened with beatings, jail time and death.

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Why would they bother to do this? Because an informed public is a scary thing for oppressors.

What we do at The Northern Light is less extreme than ratting out dirty politicians and gangsters, though.

But what we do is something no other news organization in Alaska does: We focus primarily on news within the University of Alaska system.

Since we’re a part of the largest institute of higher education in the biggest state in the country, that’s sort of a big deal.

So journalism is pretty important.

As for newspapers going out of business, that’s only partially true. Yes, print news organizations have shrunk dramatically in size since the 2007 recession. A lot of factors play into this, and explaining them all could take pages of this newspaper.

But to keep it short, here are a few reasons why newspaper companies have been dwindling: The sheer cost of producing a newspaper is extremely high and readers are flocking online to get their news.

This does not mean journalism is going away forever. It just means the field is evolving and leaning toward online-only publications.

This does not mean there aren’t jobs in journalism. This does not mean traditional journalism is going away.

This is part of a continuing series of articles to inform readers about operating procedures at The Northern Light.