Empire's sports section set to change

Posted: Sunday, July 06, 2008

I've decide to hang up my pen and paper after about three and a half years here at the Juneau Empire.

Saturday, I officially ended my tenure as Empire sports editor after accepting a job in Lexington, Ky.

Personally, I've never been a fan of these goodbye columns. Not because I'm the overly sentimental type, but mostly because I feel like I'm just taking a new job. If your doctor decided to move to Seattle, he wouldn't write a 600-word soliloquy about how special his time was diagnosing flu bugs and passing out prescriptions, would he?

Instead, just put me among the thousands of 18- to 35-year-olds who leave Juneau with fond memories.

I hope I served the community well and my errors weren't too egregious.

I also would like to apologize to every senior I called a freshman, every Kristi I wrote down as Kristy, every Aaron I published as Erin and every Jennifer I called Eugene.

Now that I'm gone, though, the sports section will be experiencing a few changes.

The most obvious change is that, for now, there is no sports editor waiting in the wings. The managing editor, Mike Plett, is on the hunt for the next leader of the sports section, and the Empire will have one in place shortly.

In the meantime, our crack freelance reporting and design staff will be producing the sports section.

Please continue to send all story ideas, information and critiques to either sports@juneauempire.com or 523-2228. The e-mail and phone messages will still be checked everyday while events and stories will continue to be assigned.

This leads to our second change. The sports section will be getting periodically smaller.

Due to the lack of a full-time sports editor, there will be less manpower available working on the sports section. Instead of one full-time person manning the desk, it'll be a changing crew of dedicated people devoting their time and energies to help the paper and serve the community.

Also, like nearly every other newspaper in the United States, we are going through a rough spot financially right now, and that means we need to save money. This means cutting back on ink and paper, which will lead to a smaller section on certain days.

But this change won't mean the sports staff will be any less dedicated to providing quality coverage. Smaller sections, though, will necessitate a few changes in how sports is put together.

Expect the elimination of national game stories and the addition of more columns.

It's time for the paper to finally cut the cord on the "gamer" story. Do you really need to read a story saying Ichiro Suzuki hit a three-run home run when you watched the game on Fox Sports Northwest the night before and saw the highlights 500 times on SportsCenter before you even picked up the paper?

The Empire, however, will meet readers' needs by running baseball box scores and standings every day to keep the public abreast of what's going on nationally.

The Empire also hopes by publishing more columns, opinions and features, it can provide a more entertaining section instead of relaying what you've already seen with your own eyes.

First and foremost, though, will be the Empire's dedication to local sports. People pick up the paper to see how their friends and neighbors did, not how A-Rod and Kobe Bryant played. So continue to expect full pictures and stories of Juneau-Douglas High School athletics, as well as the other events involving local athletes.

Readers are encouraged to give the managing editor feedback as sports undergoes these changes. Contact him at 523-2265 or at mike.plett@juneauempire.com.

Once again, thank you for allowing me to cover the games and events this town feels so passionately about. Also, thank you for the kindness and generosity everyone here has shown to my wife, Megan, my family and myself.

See you on the backstretch.

• Former sports editor Tim Nichols and his goldendoodle, Eily, will be driving from Skagway to Lexington, Ky., starting Monday. Contact the sports department at sports@juneauempire.com or 523-2228.

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