Glacier City Gazette Enters Year Four
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
On Feb. 10, 2016, Glacier City Gazette (GCG) published its first issue, and the one you are reading now begins our fourth year.
It has been an exciting journey to make it this far, and it could not have done without the help and contributions of GCG’s staff of writers and photographers as well as the support of advertisers who believed in us. I never dreamed of starting a newspaper or being a publisher, yet it quickly became the best job I have ever had.
The Gazette was started due to an improbable concurrence of events. Alaska’s current recession was beginning in 2015, and UAA’s English Dept. said there would no longer be funding for me to teach college writing classes as an adjunct instructor right at the time I felt I was at the top of my game as a freelance writer.
2015 marked my tenure with Turnagain Times (TT) as Associate Editor for nearly two years, but circumstances revealed it was time to move on without the opportunity to teach and search for a full-time job.
While discussing options with my wonderful wife Lesley de Jaray, she proposed starting my own newspaper. After researching and thinking about the endeaver, we decided to move forward believing we had a fresh approach to local news to present to readers.
As a free paper, GCG survived some strong headwinds to remain here today: The recession was on, being new in a small market with established competition, newspapers were and still are in a free fall and journalism has lost respect for reasons deserved and undeserved. Today, GCG has sustained and fine-tuned its original vision, and we’re still going strong.
Another important person in the decision to pursue this adventure is GCG’s Graphic Designer Matthew Bailey, who has been with us since issue one. He and I first met working layout together for TT, so we discussed the feasibility of starting and sustaining a new local paper in a town with little media coverage. When he agreed to be a part of GCG, I knew we had a chance.
Bailey is the one who thought up the name “Glacier City Gazette,” and we both knew it had a good ring to it when we heard it. It is Bailey’s graphic design magic readers see on every page of every issue making all the difference. Visual appeal is so important and compliments about his work are always pouring in.
Next, Bailey and I discussed what kind of paper GCG would be since we were free to go in any direction we chose. With news and features, we wanted articles with more details, depth and substance as well as top notch photos. We also wanted to recognize the local talent in the arts and music scene, athletes and other compelling subjects with a story to tell.
Since we live in a visually driven world, our biggest calling card was to print 12 full color pages to emphasize the area’s people, events and natural beauty through photography. Page 7 is our full-page photography feature. I’ve heard quite a few times that people will collect past issues to send or bring home to share the beauty of our region with friends, family and visitors.
Working with GCG’s skilled writers and photographers is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. There aren’t many outlets to publish in the area, yet GCG is an opportunity for locals to get published, to gain experience and to build their portfolios. I love hearing a writer’s article ideas because they offer fresh perspectives, and I enjoy offering premium assignments. If a writer is interested and invested in a subject, it shows up in the article and photos, making it a much better experience for readers.
Since the Gazette began, writers have been coming on board to contribute. P.M. Fadden’s GCG debut was issue one, and was quickly offered the Associate Editor position. However, last Sept., he and his family left to explore other parts of the world and have been in contact to say they are doing well.
Needing a new editor, I asked freelance journalist Robert Foran III to fill the role. Upon accepting, he is beginning his fifth month at GCG. We met taking an invaluable Information Gathering course at UAA in fall 2015. The course was taught by Atwood Chair Mark Trahant, a Pulitzer Prize finalist who currently runs Trahant Reports and Indian Country News. Looking back, lessons learned from Trahant were some of the fundamental influences in understanding how to start my own newspaper. A couple months and a few unforeseen conversations later, I would become the owner of GCG.
Respectfully, I’d also like to also recognize GCG Staff Writers Sue Todd, Jeannine Stafford-Jabaay, Amy Newman and Morgan Smith. These writers bring interesting insight in so many ways to show us a variety of aspects of our region, ranging from Midtown Anchorage and throughout Turnagain Arm. They help keep our followers aware of what is going on — myself included.
Special thanks goes out to all other remaining writers and photographers who contributed to our humble paper over the past three years. A variety of voices and photos makes GCG better for everybody.
The past three years have been an interesting learning experience. There is no playbook on how to transition from being a former line cook, experienced college writing teacher, and freelance journalist to local newspaper publisher. However, all of these past experiences influenced where GCG is today.
I am looking forward to seeing how this journey continues.