Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Dutch Harbor Fisherman

The Dutch Harbor Fisherman is the name of a small newspaper published in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.  Dutch Harbor is a remote community in the Aleutian Island chain of islands in Alaska.  It can only be reached by air or boat and is the home of the largest industrial fishing fleet in the world.  It has a population of around 4000 people, but is subject to huge influxes of fishermen, money and people with time on their hands between fishing activities.  But basically it's a small remote town.  There is an interesting twist  in that the weekly police "blotter" published in the The Dutch Harbor Fisherman - Law and Order section is famous and read around the world.  It's not because people are desperate for crime writing or scoop, but it's the quality of the writing and the content.  My research tells me it's written by a former wildlife biologist, Sgt. Jennifer Shockley.  The writing style she applies to the reporting of crime in a small frontier town is a style that a biologist would use to record things, a matter of fact style without adding too much opinion.  It's kind of different and a nice change.  Having spent a fair amount of time in fishing and mining towns in this province in the last five decades I can relate to the events they report in the paper as well, and it's not hard to think of similar things that happen in Bella Coola or any small town. While some are very serious, others make you smile.  I'm sure these same kind of things happen in neighborhoods of big cities, it's just not news worthy enough to report.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Bella Coola is like Dutch Harbor in terms of crime, but do read the police blotter once in awhile, it's refreshing in it's honesty and the simplicity of how they report daily life in the Aleutian Island town of Dutch Harbor, and the rather pragmatic way in which some problems reported are solved - good small town stuff.

Here's a sample from a recent edition:
  • 11:21 a.m., Caller reported a sturdy Boston terrier was preventing her and passengers from exiting her car with its aggressive barking and stance. The individual watching the dog was advised of leash laws.
  • 8:30 p.m., Officer observed a dog at large. The owner has been issued many citations and does not seem inclined to keep his dog corralled. The officer, having captured the dog, put it in the owner’s vacant but open house.
  • 1:23 p.m., Caller reported her vehicle had been stolen while she was out of town. Investigation revealed that her significant other had made a deal to sell one of their vehicles to a local resident over the phone, and the buyer misunderstood which of the two similar vehicles parked outside of their house with keys in the ignition he had purchased. The vehicle was returned without delay.

A paper closer to home with the same matter of fact style is the police blotter in the Bridge River Lillooet News which of course owes it's style to the famous Ma Murray who was the owner and publisher for many many years and is a  BC figure famous for her forthright and honest style.  Grizzly

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