Juneau Empire downsizes, shedding photog & sports - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Juneau Empire downsizes, shedding photog & sports

Facing a changing media market and less interest in print newspapers by the public, the Juneau Empire has let go two key members of its editorial staff: The staff photographer and the local sports reporter.

Photographer Michael Penn has been with the newspaper since about 1995, and is the longest-serving staff person in the news department. In fact, it’s hard to imagine any editorial department staffer with a longer tenure than Penn in the history of the newspaper, which was founded in 1912 as The Alaska Daily Empire. Nolin Ainsworth has been the local sports and outdoors writer, and he’s now off the roster as well.

“The unfortunate reality, however, is that newspapers of our size can no longer support these dedicated positions,” wrote Robert Monteith, the general manager of the Empire in today’s Friday edition. He went on to acknowledge that the financial pressures would continue without the support of subscribers and advertisers.

In June, the newspaper ceased publishing its print edition on Mondays and rolled the weekly Capital City Weekly into its Thursday edition, basically shutting down the stand-alone publication.

For those who were raised with the Empire, it’s painful to see the capital city newspaper shrink yet again. The newsroom had a staff of 20 when the new millennium started, but is down to four now — an editor and three writers, all of whom are entitled to vacation, sick leave, and an 8-hour day.

Putting out a newspaper under those conditions is going to be a herculean task.

Must Read Alaska publisher Suzanne Downing was the editor of the Juneau Empire when it launched its digital presence on the World Wide Web in the late 1990s.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Looks like that left turn may be a dead end.

  • Death of this Marxist propaganda machine can not happen soon enough. Good riddance to fake news.

  • Michael and Nolin will both be missed. I hope they land on their feet.

  • The Morris family who owned the Juneau Empire along with many other daily papers saw the hand writing on the wall: Newspapers are like the dinosaurs: They are becoming extinct. How many people 21 or less read a newspaper? It is not happening!
    Won’t be long before kids ask: What’s a newspaper Dad?
    Online publications like MRAK will
    rule the news world. And that is because the news will be fresh and accessible. When you read the news in ADN, for example, it is old news. Nothing new.
    Most importantly, advertisers are turning more and more to online sales. And that includes online news outlets.
    Suzanne Downing is on the cutting edge of how to disseminate news. More and more people are discontinuing their print subscriptions and turning to MRAK or like online productions.

    • This is evident daily!

  • What, no photographer at the State’s Capital newspaper? That’s crazy !
    Newspapers need dedicated photographers; relying on citizen photos is not valid photojournalism!
    I remember publishers stating that .coms would never replace newspaper revenues…

  • Two things. First, in regards to the statement “…the newspaper, which was founded in 1912 as The Alaska Daily Empire”. This date is mentioned in numerous sources. However, Alaska’s Digital Archives hosts a story related to legislative hearings on the civil rights act dated February 6, 1945 (https://vilda.alaska.edu/digital/collection/cdmg21/id/2058). The clipping includes the headline banner, which states “Vol. LXIV” (64). So in years past, the paper was claiming a history dating back to the 1880s? This is not the only source I’ve come across which alludes to such. Second, you end the piece by referring to your own relationship with the paper, specifically the statement “Suzanne Downing was the editor of the Juneau Empire when it launched its digital presence on the World Wide Web in the late 1990s.” While under Morris ownership, they kept all stories published on the web in both the Vampire and the Peninsula Clarion available online for all those years. When Morris sold those holdings, the new owners changed that right away, evidently not realizing the changing nature of news and that research of old articles can also drive traffic to your site.

  • Does anyone know what Kim Elton is doing these days?

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