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OPINION: Alaska Daily provides a peek behind the scenes of journalism

During the little bit of downtime I manage to carve out for myself, there are a few television shows that I enjoy watching with my wife.
(File photo)

During the little bit of downtime I manage to carve out for myself, there are a few television shows that I enjoy watching with my wife.

One show that I have found particularly engaging over the 2022-23 television broadcast season is the Hilary Swank-led Alaska Daily.

The show stars Swank as a disgraced New York City reporter who is offered a chance at redemption by covering the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Alaska.

Alaska Daily has both a case-of-the-week and a serialized element to it, which I think is what draws me to the show so much.

In one of the early episodes in its run, in a case-of-the-week, a reporter uncovers and reports on embezzlement by a high ranking individual in a charity. That official later goes on to kill himself by crashing his plane into the ocean, leading the reporter to question whether what they did was the right thing or not.

As part of the serialized story, which is taking place over the whole season, the character played by Swank and her partner, played by Grace Dove, investigate the death of an Indigenous woman in a remote village along Alaska’s northern coast. As the story unfolds, more details about the tragic death unfold.

Throughout the season, the reporters of the Daily Alaskan newspaper face ethical dilemmas and challenges faced by reporters every day, and the impacts of the stories they tell.

While the story in Alaska Daily is fictional, the series is based on an Anchorage Daily News and Prop Publica series titled “Lawless Sexual Violence in Alaska” by Kyle Hopkins.

The series does a few things well.

It provides a behind-the-curtain peek at what life in a newsroom is like across North America.

The series also shows that when done well, the stories journalists write matter.

The stories can provide a voice for those who don’t have one. The stories can shine light on those who would much prefer to work in the shadows, to their detriment and to the betterment of everyone else.

However, the stories journalists write do have an impact, and the series serves as reminder of that fact as well.

The names in the headlines are connected to real people, with hopes, dreams, and families, and the stories written can have an effect on them all.

On the flip side, the show humanizes the reporters.

Violence against reporters is on the uptick across North America, and those reporters are people too. They have families. They have hopes and dreams. They try to get the information right but sometimes they get it wrong.

And the attacks, be it online or in person, wears away at them.

This wearing away is based in real-world research.

In fact, a recently published survey of 403 female journalists showed that over three-quarters of them have faced threat or challenge related to their work, and one-fifth are contemplating leaving the profession entirely.

Something else the series does well is bringing awareness to the issue of violence towards Indigenous women. Despite the show shedding light on the American issue, Canada has long had a problem with the same issue; so much so that a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was commissioned in August 2016, with a final report presented in June 2019.

More on the inquiry can be found here.

Another series that did an equally good job touching on the subject was the Amazon Prime series Three Pines, based on the novels of Canadian author Louise Penny, but I digress.

Alaska Daily is unlike most of the other television shows out there; it doesn’t begin with “Star” in the title, nor is it another cop show. It makes you think, it has its emotional moments, and aside from Swank’s character being generally unlikable, has a fairly strong cast.

The reputation of the media has taken a beating over the last several years, yet what it does matters.

As a journalist myself, this show has does have an appeal to me, but that is definitely not a prerequisite to watch it.

For a sneak peek behind the curtain of what journalists deal with every day, the show is definitely worth checking out.

The first season of Alaska Daily can be found on the CTV app; the show concluded its first season on March 30.

Kevin Sabo

About the Author: Kevin Sabo

I’m Kevin Sabo. I’ve been a resident of the Castor area for the last 12 years and counting, first coming out here in my previous career as an EMT.
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