Is Alaska Daily Based on a True Story?

Created by Tom McCarthy, ABC’s ‘Alaska Daily’ is a drama series that follows Eileen Fitzgerald, a celebrated investigative journalist from New York, who leaves her job after a major debacle. She decides to start afresh and moves to Anchorage, Alaska to join Daily Alaskan, a daily metropolitan newspaper. Eileen discovers that there are many missing or murdered Indigenous women in the city, and she decides to investigate more. Roz Friendly is her colleague and she helps Eileen to get started on releasing reports about the crisis.

Actors like Grace Dove Meredith Holzman and Meredith Holzman give nuanced performances that make the show very relatable. Moreover, the authentic portrayal of a newspaper office and the Indigenous community in Alaska makes the audience wonder if ‘Alaska Daily’ is inspired by actual incidents and people. We have the answers for you if you too want to find out!

Alaska Daily: Is it a True Story

No, ‘Alaska Daily’ is not based on a true story. It has been taken from a script by Tom McCarthy and Kyle Hopkins. They are journalists at Anchorage Daily News (ADN), an Alaska daily newspaper. Despite being fictional, the show draws heavily from real life, especially from Hopkins’ ‘Lawless‘ series of investigative reports between 2018 and 2020, as part of a project by ADN and ProPublica. The series focused on the horrifying stories of Alaskan sexual assault survivors who did not receive any assistance from police.

Image credit: Darko Sikman/ABC

Highlighting the weak points of the justice system, Kyle’s investigative pieces were an eye opener; ‘Lawless’ was awarded the Pullitzer Prize for Public Service in 2020. Tom McCarthy noticed the reports and was eager to tell the story about a local newsroom. He elaborated on his idea to place a New York journalist within a local news agency in a September 2022 preview.

“I felt like the thing I didn’t really get to explore was the personal lives of journalists, get to know who they are…And especially, I would say, in the last 10 years, the sort of rhetoric and vitriol directed specifically at journalists has really been amped up. This, I believe, was done incredibly unfairly and with great purpose. It is possible to reduce the power and influence of the press. It makes a lot of things easier, including corruption, small and wide scale,” said McCarthy.

The filmmaker continued, “So I thought, man, what’s something I could do if I had an opportunity to make a TV show? And I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to really get to know who are these journalists, specifically involved in local journalism. … Can I humanize journalists? Can I get a sense of who they are and what makes them tick and why they do the work they do?” To add depth to his story, he worked closely with Hopkins and ADN to develop the concept.

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Image credit: Darko Sikman/ABC

Thus, McCarthy picked up a few of the themes covered in ‘Lawless’ and built the show’s narrative around them. This includes the legal injustices that Alaska’s Indigenous community faces, including the shocking number of unsolved cases and missing or murdered women. The creator and his team intricately studied the ADN employees and their newsroom, taking notes for the show’s physical setting and character types on their observations.

Albeit, while ‘Alaska Daily’ may resemble actual reporters and true crime cases, it is primarily fictional and builds its own world without any real-life references. It aims to be a moving message about how the legal system fails victims from Indigenous communities. It also pays tribute to the tireless efforts of journalists and local news organizations in providing a platform for unheard voices in society.

Read More: Where is ABC’s Alaska Daily Filmed?

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