Rod Boyce, former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, is the 2020 recipient of the Alaska Press Club’s prestigious First Amendment Award.
Boyce spent nearly 27 years at the News-Miner before leaving the newspaper in January.
“I truly appreciate it,” Boyce said of the unexpected honor. It means a lot to be nominated by fellow journalists, he said, because his favorite part of the field was the people.
“My favorite thing in the world is working with reporters ... it’s just always a joy to help shape a story,” Boyce said.
His love of the newsroom and its collaborative atmosphere kept him in the field for over three decades. Boyce also loved the community interactions the job allowed and “day in and day out covering local news.” Finding the local angle and “telling the story of the Fairbanks community,” kept Boyce returning to the office each day.
Boyce’s aptitudes for cultivating reporters and local news were both reasons he stood out among this year’s group of nominees, according to Alaska Press Club Secretary Tom Hewitt. Boyce, Hewitt said, was chosen in large part due to his “quiet leadership” behind the scenes.
Hewitt emphasized Boyce’s talent for identifying reporters who would be a good fit for both the News-Miner and Fairbanks — not always an easy task — and for developing them into the best journalists they could be.
Another landmark of Boyce’s career Hewitt mentioned was the fact that Boyce was editor for the entire re-litigation of the Fairbanks Four case. While Boyce was, once again, between the lines rather than in the byline, Hewitt said he still played a vital role in ensuring the quality of the coverage.
“A good editor is instrumental, especially for sensitive material,” he said.
According to the Alaska Press Club website, the Howard Rock/Tom Snapp First Amendment award highlights an “individual, group or organization in Alaska that has preserved one or more of the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment.” Unlike most awards, the First Amendment Award is selected by the Board of Directors. Hewitt explained that the award is typically bestowed to an individual who has left the field; a career ending provides an opportunity to examine their impact on Alaska journalism.
Boyce received national recognition in March when U.S. Sen .Dan Sullivan named Boyce “Alaskan of the Week” in a Senate floor speech.
After leaving the News-Miner in order to spend more time with his family, Boyce is working as a science writer and public information officer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute.
Former Features Editor Gary Black served as interim managing editor from Jan. 22 through April 11 and officially assumed the managing editor role on April 12.
Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.