It used to be that the journalism we spat at readers of all ages conformed to the simple rule called five W's: who, what, where, when, why. If reporters were feeling especially spunky, they might throw in "how" for dessert.
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For our younger readers - those rare literate souls between the ages of 18 and 35 -we hereby embark upon the age of the sixth W: Wassup?!
Lord, how my age shows. With a son entering high school this year, I dance at the edges of pop-culture obscurity, just as my father before me did when he walked into a record store, asked the clerk "what the kids are listening to these days" and walked out with Steve Miller's "Abracadabra" on vinyl, the cellophane around which was destined never to be broken. Thanks, Dad. May I have a hard candy?
Truly, I am not the guy that the Juneau Empire wants to sell on a fresh new section. But times change, and just like every other newspaper in America, this one wants young readers. And so, in hopes that younger Alaskans may see something of themselves in their newspaper, the Juneau Empire is evolving. Next week there will be no This Week. In its place will be something that not only tells people what they can do, but goes along with them for the ride. Next week we haul out Hooligan.
A hooligan is an oily little fish that burns like a candle if you take a match to it. It also tastes pretty good smoked, and lots of people like to make a flavorful sauce of it. It swims in hordes, attracting all manner of animals to a frenzied Southeast Alaska party.
It's also bad-ass.
Eat or be eaten, Alaskans. It's the cycle of life, and next week the Empire presents it to you in a new package - one that shows what to do and see, at home and on the town, and, in effect, what the kids are doing these days. It's that last part in particular that makes Hooligan such a departure from This Week. No longer merely a listing and preview of the week's cultural activities, the section now will add the reflections of Southeast Alaska life. It will depict people at play, and, via the Internet, will give them a chance to talk about it.
Hooligan is the magazine of leisure and life, available every Thursday in the Empire or, if you prefer, by itself on racks around Juneau every Friday.
Not to worry, opera nuts, potters and ballet lovers. You may not find an upcoming performance or exhibit pictured on the cover, but the Empire is not shunning you. The new section will continue to show where and when you can find all manner of events - indeed, a much broader array of them. In some cases, feature coverage of fine arts will be shifted into the news pages of the Empire's "A" section.
"We want to keep on covering Juneau's performing arts scene, but we also want to expand our coverage of other kinds of entertainment - pop culture and more trends," says Managing Editor Lori Thomson.
Why change This Week at all?
"They were going to kill it if we didn't," says Mike Plett, a news and design editor who has spent much of the last season or two envisioning the new publication.
No lie. "They" are the people who make this newspaper's business decisions, and it didn't take an account executive to look at the pages of This Week and see that it wasn't selling. Often there were no advertisements at all.
Plett says the paper needed a new section that was broader in scope, and yet more organized, so it's easier to find your way.
The paper's editors, its online team and its advertising crew began talking of something new last year. It needed to be more energetic, more directed at people's interests, more comprehensive in its listings, more interactive, more fun.
It needed to be more local, with Southeast Alaskans writing about what they like to eat, drink, hear, watch and play.
It needed to be Hooligan, the taste sensation. That's what readers will find next week and every week from now on. Eat it up. We made it for you.
Brandon Loomis is city editor of the Juneau Empire.
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