Julia O’Malley, a third-generation Alaskan, is a journalist, teacher, editor and cook who lives in Anchorage. Her work in kitchens, classrooms and newsrooms explores Alaska’s politics, culture, climate and food.
Her book about Alaska’s foodways, “The Whale and The Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing, and Community in Alaska,” created in collaboration with the Anchorage Museum and published by University of Washington Press, came out in December 2019. (Order it here!) Her book research also helped guide Anchorage Museum’s year-long WHAT WHY HOW WE EAT exhibit on Alaska’s food culture that opened in February 2019.
Julia has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, High Country News, Today.com, The Nation, The Guardian, National Geographic News, and Eater, among other publications. (Find all her clips here.) She writes recipes for the Anchorage Daily News and Edible Alaska. She’s also appeared on Molly of Denali.
She’s currently an editor at Alaska’s Energy Desk, overseeing coverage of energy and the environment.
Julia received a James Beard Award in 2018 for a story about a young whale hunter, Chris Apassingok, who was cyber-bullied by environmentalists after he took a whale in the village of Gambell. The story is published in the Best American Food Writing anthology, edited by Ruth Reichl.
Other publications and experience:
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.
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.
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).
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. That same year, her columns won first place for general commentary from the Society for Features Journalists.
In 2008, a body of her work won the Scripps-Howard Foundation’s Ernie Pyle award for the best human-interest writing in America.
She is a graduate of Smith College and the mother of two boys.