A letter to the KTOO community from our editor

Public media was made for social distancing. It’s almost cliche to talk about audio storytelling as the most intimate form of storytelling, but there is something about how much like a conversation it feels — one voice speaking directly into one pair of ears. Even as we move more and more of our operations online, we bring the tradition of that storytelling with us. We write our web stories with that same one-to-one ratio in mind. And as a public media station, you can be assured that we are doing all of this for you.

Thank you for continuing to depend on us for local news and for supporting our efforts when you can. We take our public mission seriously and instead of scaling back during these uncertain times, we are ramping up.

Here are just a few of our commitments to you from the KTOO newsroom as we all experience the events of the coming weeks together:

  • The news team is checking in with the hospital, the schools, state health officials, lawmakers, tribal government leaders, city leaders and visitor industry representatives every day and bringing you their updates as quickly as we can.
  • Reporters have moved schedules around so we can bring you late-breaking news, early morning updates and weekend coverage. (And also to keep the numbers of people down in our building.)
  • You will hear from health experts and community leaders. But also from people whose expertise is going through the same thing you are going through. You’ll hear from your neighbors and fellow Alaskans who are making sense of the same strange changes happening around them. We always strive to balance breaking news and information with in-depth coverage and storytelling.
  • We will keep you — our audience — in mind when we decide to prioritize national news over local news or to leave national news for local news. We are making these decisions sometimes several times a day.
  • We will offer reprieve from coronavirus coverage by chasing other stories that are important to Alaska — the recall campaign, the impact of low oil prices on Alaska’s economy, legislation being debated in the Capitol, the barriers to this year’s cruise season. We’ll also bring you unexpected stories from our community and sleuth out answers to questions you submit for our Curious Juneau program.

You might start to notice more phone interviews as we keep our reporters at their desks more often than we usually like to. This is for their safety and for the health and wellness of our whole community.

Also know that our Arts and Culture team is working on several things to make sure you stay connected to the community at this time, including new call-in segments on Juneau Afternoon and the ability to hear the live voices of your favorite DJs on KRNN and KXLL, even while we have suspended our volunteer program to keep the volume of our building’s visitors low.

360 North and Gavel Alaska are providing a huge service to you while the state Capitol is closed to visitors. We’re carrying regular legislative coverage as well as special news conferences and appearances from state and local leaders. This video coverage can be found at KTOO.org as well as on TV.

The best place to look for news updates is KTOO.org. We haven’t expanded our local newscasts yet, but we will consider carving out more time for local news on our airwaves if the volume of updates demands it. Right now you can catch our freshest news throughout Morning Edition and during the 4:00 p.m. hour of All Things Considered. Highlights from the day from throughout the state will be on Alaska News Nightly at 6:00 p.m..

Send us tips and story ideas, corrections and kudos, and all your questions to news@ktoo.org.

We’re here to listen.

Most sincerely,

Jennifer Pemberton
Managing Editor, KTOO