UAA Atwood Chair to discuss Alaska’s oil money

Tim Bradner, UAA’s 2017-2018 Atwood Chair of Journalism, will be giving a presentation on Nov. 9 titled, “Where is All Our Oil Money Going?”

During the presentation, Bradner will examine Alaska’s oil industry and the essential role it has played in the state’s economy.

“The biggest problem we face is finding a way to pay for our state government in a way that enacts revenue measures which, one way or another, are going to be necessary,” Bradner said. “We have the resources now to solve the problem, to develop a structure for paying for state government… but if we don’t do that, if we wait and we drain all of our financial resources, then we are creating instability and problems for the economic growth of the state.”

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Tim Bradner, a seasoned journalist and owner of the Alaska Legislative Digest, is UAA’s 2017-2018 Atwood Chair of Journalism. Bradner will be teaching two classes in the 2018 spring semester. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

The Atwood Chair of Journalism is considered an esteemed position for temporary faculty to exemplify the journalism community, as well as teach courses.

Tim Bradner’s career in journalism was fostered while going to high school in Texas. He says that he had grown up with a desire to write fiction but found himself writing on social justice issues.

“I was a big fan of John Steinbeck and the books that he wrote… when I came to Alaska, I sort of brought that with me,” Tim Bradner said.

After attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks and working for the school’s newspaper, Polar Star, he began writing for the Fairbanks News-Miner. At the time, Alaska was beginning the development of oil and natural resources, allowing Tim Bradner to write on oil exploration in the north slope.

He also covered the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act upon meeting the movement’s leaders, and wrote for the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

“For somebody from out of state interested in social justice issues, this is really heavy stuff… and I guess that is something I found really unique about Alaska and being in journalism here,” Tim Bradner said. “You were covering things and writing about things that were history-making.”

Over the years, Tim Bradner has worked with BP Alaska, as well as the state government and legislature. He currently runs the Alaska Legislative Digest with his brother, Mike Bradner, who was previously a member of the State House of Representatives from 1966 to 1976 and participated in a number of projects concerning the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline and state oil.

Despite their varying backgrounds, they found that their work could be combined.

“Tim just naturally fell towards the Alaska economic report and I towards the legislative side, and we mixed the two. There’s a lot in both that’s much the same,” Mike Bradner said.

He also says that journalists must work to investigate issues when it comes to state economics and legislative issues. With Tim Bradner’s knowledge in petroleum oil and public policy, it is especially important to learn how to seek out both sides.

“Journalism, especially political journalism, has to probe out the ‘we’ and the legislators are standing up all the time saying, ‘I,’ or, ‘I’m going to do this. This is my bill’,” Mike Bradner said. “There’s all kinds of public interests. Good journalists have to probe out both sides.”

Matt Hickman is the editor for Wick Communications Alaska Regional, which is comprised of various publications, including the Anchorage Press and Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. He says that Tim Bradner’s contributions regarding natural gas and Alaska’s politics have offered variety in their content.

“At the Press, we have everybody that wants to write about music and theater and everything else and all the fun stuff, but when you can find somebody who really just knows how the ins and outs work of politics and economics, oil and gas, that’s something that really stands out,” Hickman said.

He also says that Tim Bradner’s ability to bring his knowledge of public policy issues will show a need for reporters that can address these topics. This demand has already shown in the nation’s presidential administration.

“I think what you’re going to see, in terms of being a young journalism student, the thing that really is going to be sought after in the future is people who can really report on issues,” Hickman said. “It’s going to be so important in the future, especially with what we’ve seen in this administration… a lot of lack of detail, lack of knowledge about how things work.”

Tim Bradner will be teaching two classes in the spring, one of which will be a lower-level journalism course while the other is Public Service Journalism, a course where he plans to discuss Alaska’s local and state governments.

He hopes to teach about the socioeconomic issues that the state deals with, whether it be about health, fish and game, natural resources or criminal justice. His ultimate goal for students is to cultivate a better understanding of how the government works.

“Students will be challenged to understand these complex issues and write about them in ways that ordinary people can understand, and then also reflect both sides of the issue,” Tim Bradner said.

The talk concerning Alaska’s oil money will take place in Room 307 of the UAA/APU Consortium Library. It will be on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. and admission is free.