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Conference will examine news coverage of Alaska Natives and Indians in 49th state

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
AFN President Julie Kitka addresses delegates to the 2013 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Fairbanks. Loren Holmes photo

FAIRBANKS -- The Alaska Federation of Natives and the Alaska Dispatch announced plans for a two-day conference in 2014 examining news coverage and communications concerning Alaska Natives, American Indians and Native Hawaiians.

The Native Media and Policy Summit will also look at the challenges faced by Native journalists and institutions in expanding their reach in a rapidly changing world. Julie Kitka, president of AFN, and Alice Rogoff, publisher of the Alaska Dispatch, spoke at a luncheon during the AFN convention in Fairbanks about preliminary planning for the conference.

They said that journalists, as well as professionals in public relations and marketing will delve into communications questions ranging from coverage of Native cultures to explaining the role of Alaska Native corporations, the largest commercial enterprises based in Alaska.

The changing attitudes among Native leaders about corporate communications has been best illustrated recently with the high-profile campaigns run by the Bristol Bay  Native Corporation and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and the increased efforts by the Sealaska Corporation to reach shareholders, some of whom live outside of the core area of the corporation.

The conference is expected to take place in Anchorage, with details to be announced shortly. For information about sponsorships, contact Ben Mallott at AFN at 907- 274-3611 or write to bmallott@nativefederation.org.

In related developments, Kitka said AFN will add the “AFN President’s Award for Journalism” to its list of convention awards in 2014, recognizing outstanding coverage of Native issues. And Rogoff announced the creation of a new scholarship program to encourage Alaska Native journalism students.

Details about eligibility and application information will be published on the AFN and Alaska Dispatch websites.