Today Mike and I went on a field trip.... to the Juneau Empire.
It may not sound like a big thing, but as our club knows, we've had more than our share of frustration working with them over the years. Today we met the new Publisher, Rustan Burton (sounds like "Justin") who has been hired to save a floundering newspaper.
Will he do it? Yes, I believe he will, absolutely. He has a good handle on not only what went wrong, but why, and changes needed to improve relations between the Empire staff and the rest of us. It's not going to happen over night and it's going to take a lot of baby steps but he's meeting with people of Juneau, listening, and taking notes. More importantly, he has a vision for a better newspaper and I think we owe it to him, to the Juneau Empire, to get re-engaged.
Here's how we can help: If you aren't subscribed, or have stopped your subscription (like we did), re-subscribe to the paper; give them our total support. Don't judge harshly but know that Rustan is trying really hard to make the Empire a better newspaper for you and I. (Watch for less typos!) Juneau needs this newspaper for many reasons, and if Rustan Burton can't turn it around, where will we turn for local news?
We had a good meeting. We told him about the Mendenhall Flying Lions and how we're helping people in the community and Southeast, and he offered the Empire's backing and support not only in advertising but involvement, hands-on involvement.
So as we move ahead with our seasonal projects and fundraisers, let's ask the question: How can the Empire be involved? We mentioned the 4th of July concession booth and he thought that would be a great opportunity for the Empire to offer free newspapers to the participants in the staging area.
I want to thank Rustan for taking time out of his busy day to visit with Mike and I. He also took us on a tour of the facility, walked us through the process of getting the newspaper printed and to our doorstep, and then gave us free reign to walk through the building to look at all the art work. Incredible.
After this morning's meeting, I feel a little closer to the Empire, a sense of ownership. I understand a little more about the dynamics and what they're going through and the changes they're making and hope to make. I wish Rustan luck and look forward to good things to come.