Julia O’Malley, a third-generation Alaskan, is an independent journalist, teacher and blogger who lives in Anchorage. She writes about Alaska’s politics, culture, environment and food.
Julia has written for The Washington Post, High Country News, Today.com, The Guardian, Smithsonian Journeys Magazine, Talking Points Memo, Bloomberg News, National Geographic News, Eater, Saveur, Al Jazeera America, Edible Alaska and Alaska Dispatch News. (Find all her clips here. And her most recent Today.com video collaboration with photographer Ash Adams here.)
Julia was the visiting Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage from 2015-2017, where she taught food writing, social media, community reporting and digital journalism. She also teaches and organizes independent workshops around Alaska on memoir and food journalism. She is the conference organizer for the Alaska Press Club.
Julia contributed a chapter to the 2016 anthology Made of Salmon. Along with photographer Katie Orlinsky, she was the recipient of a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting in 2015 to do work related to climate change and Alaska’s wild subsistence foods. She was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2015 for a story about agriculture and restaurants in Homer.
Before becoming a freelancer, Julia worked at the Anchorage Daily News where she wrote a twice-weekly metro column about Alaska life and politics from 2009 to 2014. Before that, she covered courts and wrote about military culture and Anchorage’s immigrant and ethnic communities. Julia’s work has been recognized with some of country’s most prestigious feature-writing prizes.
In 2014, she won a Berger Award from Columbia Journalism School for a series of stories, “The things that happen: two boys and cancer” about two teenage boys, best friends, one of them Lao and one of them Hmong, who were diagnosed with cancer at the same time. (Click here for her Journalism Day speech at Columbia) That series also won a Blethen Award and a McClatchy President’s Award.
In 2011, her series on opiate addiction in Anchorage, “Hooked: One Addict’s Story,” which she worked on with photographer Marc Lester, won the Darrell Sifford Memorial Prize from the Missouri School of Journalism, a Blethen Award, first place in the Society of Professional Journalists Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest for social issues reporting, and first place in the “Best of the West” contest for special topic column writing. Additionally, she and Lester were given an honorable mention for the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. That same year, her columns won first place for general commentary from the Society for Features Journalists.
In 2009 and 2010 her columns won President’s Awards from the McClatchy Company.
In 2008, a body of her work won the Scripps-Howard Foundation’s Ernie Pyle award for the best human-interest writing in America.
In 2007, her writing about the eldest daughter in a Lao family translating for her father as he died of cancer won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. That same year, she also won a Blethen Award for writing about diversity.
She has been a board member for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Alaska Press Club. In 2009, she was named one of the Anchorage’s “Top 40 Under 40” by the Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of Smith College.