It's an interactive world out there - or could be

Thinking Out Loud

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2002

Thank you if you consider the Juneau Empire to be a well-oiled machine - or even a whale-oiled machine. In the interest of full disclosure, of course we are - except when we're not. (See "Proofreader's lament: It looked OK to me," Empire, March 20.)

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

Even though I've been silent on the subject of our redesign project since March, the project has continued to move forward albeit at a glacial pace. That's because: 1) We are taking our time so that we get it right, or, 2) More work is involved than we realized, or, 3) We are not the well-oiled machine we made ourselves out to be in the previous paragraph, or, 4) I keep getting in the way of the people who know what's going on.

The correct answers are 1 and 2, according to the people who know what's going on.

We're not just looking for a new typeface here the way some people sample wine: "Bold without being overbearing or pretentious; a richly textured font with a hint of sans serif." Everything inside the paper figuratively is on the table for reconsideration. And, with the help of your feedback, we've noted some preferences, which brings me to the reason why I called this meeting. We need more feedback about proposed interactivity between reader and Empire.

We have questions. You have answers in the form of opinions. Our questions will appear here; on our Web site,; and in ads placed in the paper for the next several days.

We would like to know how you feel (from "you've got to be kidding" to "it's about time") about:

Weekly opinion polls on a local issue with reader feedback printed each Sunday.

Q&As with local leaders on timely topics.

Web links listed for Web sites related to news stories.

Bulletin board, which we envision as a chance for readers to share "weird anecdotes, slices of life and food for thought." You would send material by mail, fax or e-mail and we would post it weekly on a page.

Parents' bulletin board, a place where kids post examples of their parents' lame behavior. Just kidding, so to speak. It would be a place where moms and dads post parenting questions that have them stumped. Responses presumably would follow from other veteran parents, grandparents, know-it-all aunts and uncles, etc., who have been there/done that, and from kids pretending to be veteran parents and who provide suggestions like: "Kids who receive unlimited amounts of ice cream will do better in class."

Historical photos, a category that pretty much speaks for itself.

This day in history - likewise.

Do you remember? We cite a memorable event, place or person and you tell us your stories about same. (There probably will be a word limit....)

Young artists get published. My personal fave because of the warm memories, circa first grade, of Mom (Happy Mother's Day!) helping me outline my hand on a paper plate where, in mere minutes, a remarkably accurate rendering of a Thanksgiving turkey magically appeared. In the modern sequel, young artists send in their work, we select examples, which is not to say the best examples, and they magically appear on the pages of the Empire.

Legislative roundup, a weekly chart showing how lobbyists succeeded in thwarting the will of the people. Just kidding. Sort of. We'd chart which legislators voted how on what. And if you think that sounds like an Abbott and Costello routine, well, I better not go there lest I become subject to a state sales tax, a personal income tax, a permanent fund dividend reduction and have to pay an extra dime when I order a glass of cheap white wine at the downtown socialist watering hole I'm known to frequent.

That's all the proposals we have room for today, but it's not half the issues remaining to be resolved. There will be more in the future, according to the people who know what's going on. Vote on the Web at, clip out and mail back the survey, or e-mail your responses to Lori Thomson at or me at

Steve Reed is managing editor of the Empire.

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