The winter in Alaska has been a particularly harsh one this year. The early winter piled on top of economic hard times has caused some troubles for native people and those that live in remote areas in Alaska. But this is not a new tale of woe, it IS Alaska, after all. While nothing to entirely dismiss, one wonders, why CNN suddenly found this story so compelling? Could it be that they want to portray Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as just as harsh as the winter?
Native peoples and their neighbors in Alaska have been surviving for generations in the same manner. They hunt, fish, and store foods in the summer to survive the harshness of winter, and since becoming a state, they marshal their money to buy fuel and other items brought to them by American ingenuity. Not an easy life, but a life they are used to nonetheless. It hasn't really changed much for a long time in that remote part of the world. Yet, despite the sameness of it all, suddenly CNN finds Alaskans are "struggling to survive."
The story starts out dolefully recounting how, "thousands of villagers in rural Alaska are struggling to survive, forced to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full, residents say." It goes on to state that money is tight and that "harvested nuts and berries, small game animals, and dried fish are the only things keeping some from starving."
The story tells of how expensive things are and how the early winter and bad fish harvest of last year are causing hardship to befall the folks near Emmonak, Alaska. Yes, it does sound tough. But then CNN says this:
These residents and their ancestors have lived for hundreds of years in the Yukon Delta, which Emmonak resident Cindy Beans describes as something out of National Geographic.
Here is the thing that CNN isn't really telling the reader: You live in a wilderness and sometimes things are hard. Duh! These folks have been doing this for "hundreds of years" and have survived as a people just fine -- though with the occasional tough times as all people that live off the land must contend with from time to time. Nature is a harsh mistress, to be sure.
So, why are we getting this tale of woe that is not really news? Why, because these people need a bailout and that dastardly Sarah Palin isn't helping, that's why!
Many of the tribal leaders said they are begging the state and federal governments to do something to help.
And is the help coming? No because that darn Palin is mean.
Alaska has given many residents $1,200 energy rebate checks, but residents say it barely helps them with one month's heating costs. Aid agencies, including the Red Cross, aren't an option right now -- the Alaska Red Cross said they couldn't help unless a disaster is declared.
But the state hasn't declared an emergency yet, and it can't because of a state statute that requires the average income levels in the villages to drop below $26,500 -- regardless of the cost of living.
So, what about Palin?
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's office said the state is trying to find a way to free up government help.
She only "said" they are trying this, huh?
Certainly it is tough up there. Not only are we in bad economic times, but that area of the country has had a harsh winter and apparently a bad fall, last. Of course this has happened many times in the past and for people that live in like situations it will happen again. It is most certainly news locally. But is this a national story that needs CNN's attention? Is this a story that demands top billing on CNN's U.S. News page?
We also get a strong hint of how CNN wants to push this story when looking at the main U.S. news page (at the time of this writing). There we see the headline, "In rural Alaska, families struggle to survive," followed by a short blurb which is underscored by a video link that appears at the bottom of the highlighted piece. Here is the caption of the video link:
Watch how families feel about Palin's response.
That darn, mean ol' Palin.
Clearly what CNN wants the viewer to take away is that Palin is not helping. It isn't about the "families," It's about Palin.
(Photo credit: thealaskastandard.com)