My job with the Sentinel will not change

Starting this week, I will be working as a policy adviser to Mary Peltola, Alaska’s newly elected congresswoman. I hadn’t planned on it, but she asked and I accepted. Fortunately, I saved my suits from when I worked in Washington, D.C., for the state and federal governments a decade ago.

I’ll be advising Peltola on oil and gas and other energy issues, natural resources, tax, fiscal, transportation, federal agency issues and whatever else is on the work list for Alaska as she fills out the rest of the late Rep. Don Young’s House term until January.

While all of that is important to Alaska, and to the rest of the country, it does not diminish my commitment to maintaining the Wrangell Sentinel as the best possible newspaper for the community. Though four hours away on the East Coast for the next several weeks, I will continue to help edit and direct the Sentinel, working with the solid staff of Amber Armstrong-Hillberry, Marc Lutz and Caroleine James. They run the paper, I just help.

Admittedly, it’s unusual for a congressional staffer to own a newspaper, much less work on it each week. But I have long taken pride in making the unusual work out.

To avoid conflicts, I intend to restrict my Sentinel work to helping to edit, proofread and guide the paper — and ensure that Amber always has enough money in the account to cover the bills. It’s important to me that the Sentinel continue to grow and improve and, hopefully, someday reach breakeven, and I promise that my new job will not change that commitment.

But journalistic ethics are important, and I want readers to trust what they read and not question the Sentinel’s motives. To protect that trust, I will not write anything for the Sentinel about Peltola or the other candidates in the Nov. 8 general election for a full two-year term in the U.S. House, nor will I write anything about Alaska’s two U.S. senators or the rest of Congress. If any of those elected officials or candidates make news, the Sentinel will rely on its other writers, The Associated Press or other impartial news organizations to write the stories — not me.

My bright line to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest will extend from the news pages to the opinion page. I will not write any editorials or columns about Peltola or other candidates for the office. Nor will I write opinion pieces about any of the issues I will be working on while a member of her staff.

Yes, this is all pretty unusual, and will require diligence on my part, and by the rest of the staff, to ensure that I keep my federal opinions and conflicts to myself and not let them creep into the Sentinel. But I believe we can do it.

The point is that my new role in the nation’s capital will not affect my effort to help Marc and Caroleine report on the borough assembly, school board, Wrangell’s businesses and people and community events. Nor will it get in the way of working with Amber to proofread the obituaries, community calendar and all the other work she does to keep the operation functioning smoothly.

I’ve had a lot of different jobs over the decades, and now I have the luxury of two great jobs at the same time: Serving as a congressional staffer to Alaska’s newest member of the 233-year-old U.S. House, and publisher of the 119-year-old Wrangell Sentinel.


Reader Comments(1)

Kimberly Metcalfe writes:

Congratulations on your new assignment, Larry. I’ll miss your political editorials, but understand the reasoning. It’s great that you will keep a hand in with the paper. I recently saw a print version (I’m an online subscriber) and I’m very impressed with the crisp layout and design. Thanks for all you do for Wrangell and Alaska. And good luck to Rep. Peltola in her run for the full term! She’s terrific.

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