Meet the women behind Alaska’s self-made publications
Self-published magazines and newspapers have been on the rise in Anchorage. Many creators say a lack of resources in the community prompted them to start their own, while some wanted to offer a new perspective. Here are just some Alaskan women who make them possible.
Sophia Metters is launching 49th Degree — Alaska’s first urban magazine — later this month. She wants to use the magazine to highlight Alaska’s black community.
Metters first had the idea of starting a magazine two years ago. With the help of four other people, they actually launched a magazine in February of 2017 — but didn’t get past the first issue.
This time, it’s just Metters and her graphic designer, Jesse Brooks. She’s eager to highlight black business owners whose hard work often goes unacknowledged in the quarterly publication.
“It will touch on all the different cultures within the Alaska bowl,” Metters said. “It will also touch on up-and-coming small business, youth and empowerment… entertainment, anything that’s going on within Anchorage as well as fashion and beauty.”
Metters is heavily involved with Anchorage’s black community. She is in charge of the Juneteenth Teen Summit, a national event celebrating the abolition of slavery and a member of the Black Chamber of Commerce. Through her community involvement, she’s made plenty of connections along the way.
While her background is in social services and the medical field, she says she’s come into the editing process with an open mind.
“It’s bringing out more of the creative aspect in my life,” Metters said.
The magazine will be available in select locations around Anchorage as well as online and will launch May 25 at the Wilda Marston Theater.
MOUNTAIN VIEW POST
After several years of working for television and digital news outlets in Anchorage, Kirsten Swann started Mountain View Post, a blog and magazine highlighting the neighborhood.
“As a Mountain View resident, it seemed like traditional media outlets — for a variety of reasons — tended to feature a very narrow side of the neighborhood,” Swann said.
The blog started in 2014, but since then, Swann has published the magazine quarterly. She says the community reaction has been pretty positive, but the boundaries of the neighborhood limit her reach. Only 7,500 people live in Mountain View, making it difficult to earn a living from the hyperlocal magazine.
“I was never able to reach a scale or develop a business model capable of supporting the magazine full time,” Swann said.
Swann says Mountain View residents — especially teens — appreciate a print publication entirely devoted to local scenes and voices.
“I felt like our community would benefit from a deeper view of the place where we live — vignettes of daily life, business news, community council coverage, local events, profiles of people who live here and more,” Swann said.
You can find the latest stories from Mountain View Post online.
SOL DE MEDIANOCHE
Lina Mariscal runs Sol de Medianoche, a bilingual newspaper in the Anchorage bowl. The newspaper put its first issue out three years ago and publishes every two months. She says they initially started the newspaper to inform the Latino community on current events after the Mexican Consulate closed in 2015.
Mariscal does just about everything — including advertising, translating, editing, soliciting articles, distributing and publishing. Each article is published in Spanish and English, so oftentimes, they have to translate articles.
“I think it’s very important for people to try and find better ways — no matter what it is,” Mariscal said.
One of the biggest obstacles the newspaper faces besides funding is collecting evergreen stories for the Latino community. Since they publish every two months, they have to find stories that have a longer lifespan than a daily or weekly paper.
“It’s important to keep the printed portion of information. Not everybody has a computer. Not everybody is technology-savvy,” Mariscal said. “I don’t know about you — but I think even though I hear that newspapers are going to disappear… in the morning, when I get up and sit down with a cup of coffee [and the newspaper] — I don’t know how to describe it — I just think that’s part of being human.”
Sol De Medianoche can be found at select locations around Anchorage and online.
Five years ago, Jordan Bird had the idea of starting a magazine. She had seen other small, niche magazines in other states and knew that Anchorage could benefit from something similar.
Everything was ready, but life got in the way and she wouldn’t be able to give the magazine the attention it needed.
Life went on, but Bird still had her dream. Four years later, she eventually met Fernanda Conrad at a writing retreat and confessed her aspirations of starting a magazine. Conrad expressed interest in being part of it and Wildheart Magazine was born, focusing on the resiliency of Alaskan women.
Some of the most valuable help Bird received came from the web.
“I found as many things as I could on the internet, mainly,” Bird said. “I was buying as many magazines as I could — more like niche magazines — not the bigger ones.”
“I got really tired of people just saying to “do it,” and the internet is ablaze with that, you know?” Bird added. “I think it’s true, but you have to believe in yourself first. If you don't and you get stuck in a pattern of fear or insecurity, you’re not going to actually do anything, so you have to believe in yourself and believe that you can do that.”
Wildheart Magazine’s third issue will release in June.