Journalist and blogger Craig Medred has a new gig: communications and research for Alaska's Senate president, Anchorage Republican Kevin Meyer.
Medred is a veteran Alaska reporter and former Alaska Dispatch News and Anchorage Daily News columnist whose sharp-edged writings have polarized readers for decades. His $20,000 contract with Meyer, executed Thursday morning, covers six weeks of work.
It says he'll do research on public policy, help write and publish senators' opinion pieces, consult on communications and strategy, and advise on "the delivery of public presentations."
Medred said in an interview Monday that he would be examining "the history of gas-line plans for Alaska."
"They want to pay me to look around in some stuff I'm already looking around in," Medred said. He added: "A guy's got to make a living."
But Meyer, in a phone interview Thursday, described Medred's job more broadly, saying he would act as a short-term replacement for the Senate's former communications director, Michaela Goertzen, who resigned last month and was making $84,000 annually.
"The fact that we hired somebody for $15,000 on a short-term contract, I don't know why that's newsworthy — especially when the governor puts people on contracts for up to $1 million," Meyer said, citing an amount for Medred's compensation that was actually $5,000 short. "We're not spending any new money."
After leaving Alaska Dispatch News last year, Medred launched his own website, CraigMedred.news, which features stories on outdoor adventures, bear maulings, and politics — including a critical review last month of Walker's plans for a state-controlled gas pipeline project.
Meyer said the work done under his contract with Medred, however, would be state property. Medred wouldn't be publishing on his website on the Senate's behalf, Meyer said.
"If he has information that he finds interesting and we don't want it or we're not going to use it as the state of Alaska, then yeah — I guess he could be free to use it," Meyer said. "Right now, what he does for us is our material."