Elton's dissatisfied with changes to the Empire's opinion section

Posted: Friday, September 02, 2005

On the WaterfrontBy Elton Engstrom

I'm sure disappointed with the Empire. They've moved the editorials and letters to the editor to the back of the paper, the inside sheet of the last page. But this gives only half the coverage that was available in the old style where a double page in the middle of the paper offered the latest political commentary.

Who hasn't picked up the paper and left the front page headlines and the sports section to more leisurely reading, and quickly rifled through the intervening sheets to reach the "gold mine," Juneau's discourse on the issues of state, national and world importance.

Who hasn't looked with a craving like eating a chocolate bar at the latest letter, by, for instance, my friend Lisle Hebert, who has just reached 60 years of age. I believe I've known him longer than anyone else in Juneau. I first met him in 1952 when I visited his home to say hello to his mother, father and sister.

Fifty-three years is a long time. I make believe he and I both are working secretly for the Republican National Committee, and burrowing into the downtown liberal establishment by writing sympathetic letters and columns. But I better not go into that lest I endanger his cover.

Unfortunately the Empire will now be just like the Anchorage Daily News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Wall Street Journal and even the New York Times. Just one in a crowd, not unique and personalized any longer. We've lost our character. We will just be squeezed into that next to last page.

But what worries me most is that the editorial page and letters to the editor may begin to atrophy. People will slowly stop reading with the same passionate interest. Even the letters will not come in so frequently. They may lose their old fervor.

Reading the editorial page now in its single-page format almost involves a constraint on our very personalities and emotions.

I ask you, the readers who occasionally buy the Anchorage Daily News or New York Times, do you assiduously read the letter columns in either paper?

There, I knew it. You save that for the Juneau Empire.

Please write and let the Empire know you want your double page back in its rightful place in the heart of the paper.

• Elton Engstrom is a lifelong Alaskan, retired fish buyer, lawyer and legislator (1964-70) who lives in Juneau.

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