Empire needs to take a proactive stance

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Monday, June 12, 2006

It was with deep sadness that I listened on May 13 to KINY News of the North and heard about an alleged drunk driver plowing into three young pedestrians and a building in the middle of the day. Expecting to see or hear more about the accident, I eagerly picked up the Sunday edition of the Empire and was stunned to have to actually look for the article. I eventually found it, buried on Page A3.

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This made me think about how often I have seen a story regarding drunk driving or drunk drivers on the front page of the Empire. Is it just my imagination, or are the only times drunk drivers make the front page is when they kill someone?

A quick check of the police blotter or the weekly court report, and you will see that we have plenty of drunk drivers in this town. Are there just so many that the Empire doesn't want to waste the space? Or is this more of a case of out of sight, out of mind? Have we reverted back a couple of decades to the time when societal ills were kept quiet to spare embarrassment and humiliation from the family?

The lack of frank discussion and public admission of the problem is precisely what is making it worse. The more we try to hide behind the shroud of secrecy, the greater and more heinous the secret becomes. We, as a community, have got to acknowledge the problem before we can truly begin to address it.

I count on the media to sound the alarm when a concern arises. I work tirelessly every single day to increase awareness in this community about the problem with underage alcohol and substance abuse, and yet people are ignorant of the situation. It is long past time for the Empire to take a proactive stance in reporting stories regarding alcohol and substance abuse, so that we can acknowledge and address it.

The Empire proudly proclaims it has a 70 percent penetration of the Juneau market. How about using that power of persuasion for the public good? Shed some light on the problem and let's make a difference in our community.

Kathi Collum


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