The vicious voice

Students seeking to become better writers should do one thing. Read. Read books, magazines and newspapers. Read fiction and non-fiction, news, sports and entertainment. Read columnists and editorial writers—but don't bother with the Voice of the Times.

The old Anchorage Times newspaper, under the leadership of Alaska journalism icon Robert Atwood, was a respected and dignified publication. Atwood set the standard for journalism in Alaska including establishing the Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The former Anchorage Times newspaper retains a small editorial section in the Anchorage Daily News in the interest of differing points of view. The section should be called The Polemic Page, as it does not offer public discourse or debate, it attacks.

It is all in the language and the language is unnecessarily harsh.

Bill Clinton's presidency was, according to the Voice, “tragic” and “devastating.” The Civil War was tragic and devastating, eight years of unprecedented prosperity, regardless of cause, is neither tragic nor devastating. The Clinton administration may have been embarrassing and mortifying, but certainly not tragic and devastating.

The Voice can't let Clinton go. Their most recent harangue concerns his accepting $500,000 in fees to speak in Australia next year. More proof of Clinton's greed they say. Are they concerned their hero George W. Bush will not command as much as a speaker when his White House years are over? Clinton should get more, he can enunciate.

The New York Times is popular Voice target. The New York Times journalism is described by the Voice as “half-baked” when involving Alaska and “the Times is wrong once again” when discussing global warming. Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is accused of writing environmental “hooey” and doing a “hatchet job” concerning the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. While no newspaper is right all the time, half-baked journalism and consistent misinformation did not get the New York Times to the pinnacle of daily publications.

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You don't want to get caught planting a tree by these guys. They save their best stuff for anyone with even a passing interest in the environment. University of Alaska professors opposed to drilling in ANWR are “wrong, wrong, wrong.” Environmental activism is “wrong-headed” and environmentalists are “dyspeptic and meaner than a junkyard dog.” Environmental activists are neither always wrong nor mean. There are those who sincerely believe in their cause and promote it through the public process. Some go to extremes bordering on the ridiculous. Environmentalists are not always correct and their methods can be scurrilous, but they are a necessary component of the political process.

The Voice becomes extremely annoyed when Outsiders dare to venture an opinion on ANWR or other issues unique to Alaska that does not follow the Voice's conservative stance. Democratic Congressman Edward Markey's comments last month opposing ANWR development was described by the Voice as “truly nutty and arrogant.” The Voice then called Markey a “fool” and ranted about his ignorance of Alaska, yet had the gall to list the problems in Markey's state, Massachusetts, and what should be done about them.

Of course if one is a pro-development conservative ignorant of Alaska issues, the Voice will give its whole-hearted support.

During the nomination process of Bush appointees John Ashcroft and Gale Norton, the Voice accused democrats of “vitriolic” attacks on the nominees. Apparently democrats have never endured similar interrogation from republican rivals.

In the Sunday edition the Voice keeps readers informed of serious Alaska issues including the Seattle hotel industry and the name change of the Anchorage Armed Services YMCA to the Anchorage Armed Services YMCA of Alaska. The Voice recently asked readers to “raise a toast” to Semco Energy, parent company of Enstar Natural Gas, for bringing its board of directors to meet in Alaska for the first time.

The Voice of the Times has a unique opportunity to keep a conservative perspective in Anchorage's only daily paper. Vitriolic and unreasonable attacks on anything not consistent with the Voice's right mind contributes nothing to public discourse.