The Empire: A better bargain than a steaming mocha

Thinking Out Loud

Posted: Sunday, February 25, 2001

I've meant to be a better correspondent, someone who checks in regularly and asks, "How are things going?" No more excuses. How are things going? Are we covering the issues and events you're interested in?

We're getting a lot of letters and My Turns and more calls to Word of Mouth than we have room to print. The majority of comments received involve local issues and events. If we are to serve you better, please let us know how we are doing. The opine-and-clip hair stylists I visit speak up, for which thanks. I've also been making the rounds as a breakfast- and luncheon-speaker, so I have an idea of what's on the minds of my host Rotarians. It's been enlightening.

As I've said several times lately, the Empire is more than Word of Mouth. We work hard to be your leading source of local news. I believe we succeed within our resources. Like other businesses, the Empire newsroom operates on a budget. I know we would like to do more and I know there are some things we can do better. But let me give you an idea of our commitment.

The Empire employs 53 people full-time as well as your sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters in part-time roles that introduce them to the benefits and responsibilities of employment. Seventeen people work in the newsroom and another four are employed in the Web room, an autonomous department that produces Channels and several special sections on top of maintaining a couple of outstanding Web sites.

Not counting the cost of employee benefits (group insurance, etc.) or capital expenditures for equipment, not counting local and long distance telephone expenses or the cost of the Web room staff, the Empire spends several hundred thousand dollars a year to acquire the news, photos and features that appear in the paper.

Many of you subscribe to specialty publications that cater to your interests. The Empire offers something for everyone. In addition to local, national and foreign news, we provide comics, crosswords, Dear Abby, TV listings, Dave Barry, horoscopes, stock prices and so forth.

We have 10 reporters assigned full-time to: state government and the Legislature; city and borough government; business; education; arts and entertainment; cops and courts; and local sports. We also cover the Southeast region, transportation, environment, religion and other subjects as staffing permits.

Anyone who reads the previews and features produced by Riley Woodford knows he introduces readers to a variety of topics and people from Juneau's lively and sophisticated arts and entertainment scene.

Today, reporter Eric Fry is providing another package of stories intended to help all of us understand how public education works. This installment focuses on the relationship between funding and the delivery of instruction and facilities.

The Empire has a page of business news every day. On a typical day, that page has four-to-six stories plus stock market listings (including gold and silver prices). Really big business news always gets consideration for page one. Every Tuesday, our Business Spotlight section reports at length and with color photos about a local business - not because that business just made news, but because we want to introduce local businesses to local readers.

Most of you know the drill so I won't go on and on.

Monday through Friday, we give you today's news today - and we make it available for 50 cents, which is about $2.50 less than a 16-ounce mocha.

We're aware you have information choices - radio, TV and other print media. I like them, use them and respect the people who work in them. But I'm pretty sure no other local outlet is making a financial commitment to local coverage that matches the Empire's. As I said a few paragraphs ago, we want to provide more and we want to do it better. Since I have to help get the paper out every day, the best way to contact me is by the e-mail address listed below. Ms. Edna March of Mountainview Apartments is welcome to keep calling, however. After deadline is best, Edie.

Steve Reed is managing editor of the Empire. He can be reached at

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