Who’s paying attention? On Oct. 10, the Portland Press Herald ran this headline over a story by Washington Post reporter Jason Horowitz on national reaction to a controversial issue on this state’s November ballot:
“Gay-marriage question gets little notice outside Maine.”
No Sun down: Rumors circulated this week that the Portland Daily Sun was about to go out of business. According to sources at competing publications and a usually reliable industry insider with no connection to any local media outlet, the five-day-a-week free paper launched by New Hampshire’s Concord Daily Sun last February was succumbing to meager advertising revenue and public indifference.
Not so, say the Sun’s editor and publisher.
Still sinking: According to the Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation filed with the U.S. Postal Service by the Portland Press Herald, the state’s largest daily paper continues to bleed readers. Average circulation Monday through Saturday in 2009 was 60,148. A year ago, that figure was 62,981, and in 2007, it was 64,392.
WCYY scams WGME: Here’s a short course in Journalism 101: When you get a tip something shocking is happening at a local radio station, unless there are fire trucks or CSI units parked around the studio, assume it’s a publicity stunt. Whatever the jocks or general manager might claim is going down, the alleged crisis is likely to be just another silly attempt to grab attention.
Down, but not much: The Lewiston Sun Journal has published its annual report to the U.S. Postal Service (required to get cheap mailing rates), and it indicates the newspaper’s steady decline in circulation over the last ten years may be easing. The Sun Journal reported average daily paid or requested distribution of 31,006 copies this year, down about 1.5 percent from 2008. That’s a distinct improvement over the past few years when the numbers have consistently fallen by 5 percent or more annually.
No-bonus miles: MaineToday Media’s decision to send Portland Press Herald reporter Matt Wickenheiser to Europe to cover a delegation of Maine business and political leaders seeking wind-power deals has produced a lot of copy, but almost no news.
Wickenheiser spent the first couple of days of the trip talking to the Mainers about their plans to cash in on wind farms, something he could have done without leaving the state.
A foolish consistency: Republican U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins could be excused if they’re a little uncertain as to how editor/publisher Richard Connor of MaineToday Media wants them to vote on health-care reform. On August 1, Connor’s newspapers – the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel – ran editorials urging moderates Snowe and Collins to resist compromising with Democrats and “to act like Republicans from time to time.
Christie’s new crusade: John Christie, the former publisher of the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, is planning to set up a nonprofit organization in Maine to do what he calls “public interest and investigative reporting.” In a telephone interview, Christie said he hopes the program will be affiliated with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University.
Truther consequence: I’m not a fan of wimpy newspaper op-ed pages. I like opinion pieces that challenge conventional thinking, offer fresh insights and raise the blood pressure of readers who disagree with them. I don’t see many such pages in Maine newspapers, where the bland musings of syndicated columnists and government bureaucrats leave little space left over for controversy.
Learning process: Scott Wasser – executive editor of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel – was a guest on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” program on Sept. 8 to discuss his decision not to use an Associated Press photograph of a mortally wounded U.S. Marine from Maine.