BSNC is publishing a career pathways series to help showcase jobs held by successful shareholders and descendants. This series aims to raise awareness of these career options and the essential skills needed to succeed in these positions.
BSNC shareholder Laureli Ivanoff is a renowned, award-winning writer currently working and living full time in Unalakleet, Alaska, where she grew up.
She currently serves as Communications Director for Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation. She is also a freelance writer, most recently writing and producing a radio program called Sikullautaq for Norton Sound Health Corporation which covered important topics regarding COVID-19. Previously, Ivanoff served as News Director for KNOM
Ivanoff earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Ivanoff’s work has been featured in many publications, including the New York Times. Ivanoff is an awardee of the Alaska Governor’s Arts & Humanities Award, Alaska Press Club Award in the Best Column category and many more honors in radio broadcasting.
“Journalism takes you places. Working as a reporter is exhilarating while also providing important services to the public.”
What kinds of skills or traits are key for success in journalism?
Laureli Ivanoff: “Dedication to your audience and listeners. I know my listeners deserve truth and I work hard every day to bring it to them. Tenacity. People will tell you no, but again, your listeners deserve the truth, so you work hard to get it. You must learn how to be pushy with some people, but for someone who was raised to always be polite, that part was really kind of fun. Curiosity. A bulk of your job is asking questions and compiling information. Never stop being curious. And finally, know you have the right to be in that space.”
What resources did you utilize to earn your degree?
Laureli Ivanoff: “I utilized all regional scholarships and the Anchorage Daily News scholarship. My family, including my children Joe and Sidney, were also a big resource/support as they relocated to Fairbanks with me for a year so I could take journalism classes. They had to listen to me take classes via audioconference while they did their homework after school.”
What were some of your largest barriers or challenges in your career?
Laureli Ivanoff: “Growing up, I didn’t know any Alaska Native journalists or writers. I often dealt with the “imposter syndrome” many Indigenous people experience. Even when I was working with the editor from The New York Times, I felt like a fraud. But no. I belong here. I am a writer. Take up that space. Use your voice. The world needs it.”
What advice would you give to young Alaska Native people interested in pursuing a career in journalism?
Laureli Ivanoff: “Locate the instructors in your department who are experienced and invested in your growth and learn all you can from them. Once you have completed school, find a station or newsroom that is doing important work that is respected and do the work. Every day. It is how you get better. Journalism takes you places. Working as a reporter is exhilarating while also providing important services to the public. If you are curious, become a reporter. If you are a truth seeker, become a reporter. If you want to travel and understand the workings of the world, become a reporter. We need you in newsrooms throughout Alaska badly to include your indigenous lens.”