There’s really no way to know for sure, but the 2018 Arctic Winter Games may have just been one of the biggest media events ever in the South Slave.
There were 58 accredited members of the media covering the games in Hay River and Fort Smith.
They came from everywhere that sent teams – Alaska, Russia, Greenland, Northern Alberta, Scandinavia and the three Northern territories of Canada.
One of them was Heather Hintze, a reporter/photographer for television station KTVA in Anchorage, Alaska.
“Arctic Winter Games is huge for Alaska,” she said, noting the state sent a large team to the South Slave. “There are a lot of Native games that are being played throughout the year, and so they put together pretty good teams to come to Arctic Winter Games, too.”
Hintze, who was covering her third Arctic Winter Games, enjoys attending the event.
“It’s fun to meet other journalists from around the world,” she said. “I made a lot of friends in Greenland that I keep in touch with.”
When not providing stories for KTVA, Hintze was media liaison for Team Alaska.
“So I’m trying to focus on one big story a day for the TV news side of it,” she explained. “Then I go take pictures and do social media for the team as much as I can.”
The TV newsperson was in Hay River throughout the games.
As far as she knows, Hintze was the only reporter from Alaska on location to cover the games, just as she was the only one in Greenland.
One of the first things she did for her viewers was a “quick explainer” to locate the South Slave.
Fort Smith’s Sarah Pruys, volunteer media chair with the games, said organizers had it in the back of their minds that it was going to be one of the biggest media events ever in the South Slave.
“But compared to other games, we have fewer media than in the past year because we just don’t have as much space accommodation-wise,” she said, noting there were more media representatives at the 2016 games in Nuuk, Greenland.
Invitations were sent to many media outlets, Pruys noted. “We are really happy with the response that we got.”
Many of the visiting media members started their coverage in Hay River because the opening ceremonies were held there on March 18, and then travelled to Fort Smith. Some others stayed in just one of the communities.
Pruys said some reporters were also doing stories about the towns and their people.
“I think the media are definitely interested not just in sports but also in the cultural contingents and different things going on throughout the week here in Fort Smith and in Hay River,” she said.
The host society set up two media centres for the visiting journalists. They were located at Aurora College in Fort Smith and at the Aurora College Community Learning Centre in Hay River.
By day two of the games, about 35 people had used the media centre in Hay River, said Marie-Eve LaRocque, the social media chair with the games.
“I think we’re really lucky to have all the media come in from the different contingents because it just increases our reach of promoting the games, and that’s to everyone’s advantage,” she said. “I think the more we promote the games outside of the regions and the contingents, that’s a bonus. We want to promote the traditions, the different cultures and sports.”
The media centres offered wireless connections, computers, access to a printer, and the latest information and schedules for sports and cultural activities.
“But essentially it’s a quiet space where media can write their stories, and have access to internet and equipment,” said LaRocque.
Aside from the news media, the Arctic Winter Games, which ran from March 18 to March 24, had a number of other ways to get the news out.
It had its own paid and volunteer photographers who uploaded images to the internet for use free by the news media.
The games also produced an early-morning online newsletter with results and the standings of each contingent, along with a link to the photos and a daily official video of the games.
In addition, the Arctic Winter Games had an official daily online newspaper – Ulu News.
Aside from the 58 accredited members of the media, all teams had their own media persons to handle such things as social media accounts.