Nine days after the Juneau Empire rolled out a new look and an online pay wall, publisher Mark Bryan resigned.
Bryan left the job yesterday (Tuesday). An Empire receptionist at 3:45 p.m. said Bryan “no longer works here.” An uncredited story posted at 5:23 p.m. on the Empire’s website said he had resigned “effective immediately, to pursue other opportunities.”
Bryan joined the newspaper in 2009 after five years as publisher of the Newport News-Times in Newport, Oregon. Bryan had previous experience in Alaska newspapers, having worked in circulation at the Anchorage Daily News and the defunct Anchorage Times.
The Empire is owned by Morris Communications, based in Augusta, Georgia. Morris owns several other media outlets in Alaska, including the Peninsula Clarion and Homer News. Former Clarion Publisher Ronnie J. Hughes has been appointed interim publisher of the Empire, according to the online article announcing Bryan’s departure. Hughes served briefly in the same capacity at the Empire in 2009, prior to Bryan being hired.
When Bryan came to Juneau, he replaced former publisher Jeff Wilson, who came out of his Georgia retirement to head up the Juneau Empire in between publishers.
It’s not clear why Bryan is leaving the Empire.
Calling it a membership, the newspaper began charging for Internet access on March 24. Bryan headed up the change.
The announcement that digital content would no longer be free came last fall at a Juneau Empire 100th birthday celebration. At the time Bryan said free access to news on the web was not sustainable.
Morris Communications also owns the Capital City Weekly, published in Juneau. General Manager Dale Smith was asked to leave the post last week, after less than five months.
Smith took the job in November, moving to Juneau from Kansas City, Missouri. In December he was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Jackson County, Missouri for not paying child support.