The newspaper you’re holding — if you’re reading this in print — is the last edition of the Juneau Empire to be printed in the capital city.
That’s right. On Friday evening, the Empire’s Juneau-based printing press, a Goss Community Offset, ran pages for the last time after over 36 years of service and is now retired.
The next edition of the paper to be in the hands of Juneau residents will come Wednesday, but instead of being produced in the capital city, it will now be printed in a facility in Lakewood, Washington, and flown into Juneau twice weekly for Wednesday and Saturday by-mail delivery moving forward. News will continue to be posted to the website daily.
The Empire’s outgoing press was originally installed in 1986 at the Empire’s previous building on Channel Drive. Before that, it was located in the old Alaska Light and Power Company Building on Second Street downtown between 1977 and 1986.
Though the Empire office and editorial departments moved to a new location in the Mendenhall Valley in 2021, the press remained at the building on a lease agreement with the building’s new owner, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.
According to Juneau Empire publisher David Rigas, the press is set to be dismantled in the coming weeks before it’s shipped to Seattle where it will remain in storage until further decision is made about where it will end up.
The Empire’s press and other belongings must be completely vacated from the facility by the end of May, which is when the paper’s lease expires with SEARCH.
Rigas said the move is bittersweet.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but unfortunately it was a necessary decision,” he said. “This is a time of transition — from the old print model to the new digital one — and we’re evolving to meet the needs of how people are consuming our content.”
Rigas said it is a time of transition for the Empire, and he’s excited about what is in store for the paper’s future.
Edward Jack, one of the two pressmen for the Empire, said working with the Empire has “been a big learning experience” during his five years with the paper. Jack said he plans to stay in Juneau and is actively looking for new career opportunities.
Pressman Cliff Tagaban agreed, and said during the roughly seven years he worked at the paper on and off between 1995 and 2023, he’s learned a lot and is still grappling with the “new age” of what the print industry is entering.
“It’s kinda sad, it’s the new age and everything is on the internet now, but I loved printing back in the ‘90s when it was a really big operation and close-knit,” he said. “Printing for all these years, it’s sad to see it come to an end.”
Tagaban said his favorite part of working at the press was the satisfaction he felt when the papers came out looking fresh, and said he enjoyed the positive feedback he would hear from the community about the paper’s quality.
Tagaban said he also plans to stay in Juneau, and will transition into working full time at his second job with Alaska Landscape over the summer. He said he is also interested in looking for new career opportunities in the near future.
The change is the latest development in the 111-year-and-counting history of the paper that bills itself as the voice of the capital city. The paper was started in 1912 by John Strong, who would later be the second territorial governor of Alaska. The paper was purchased by Morris Communications in 1969, and the Georgia-based media company owned the paper until 2017, when it was sold to GateHouse Media. Since 2018, the Empire has been owned by Sound Publishing, a Washington-based community news organization. Black Press, a Canada-based media organization, is Sound’s parent company.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807.