The Portland Sun Fails to Shine
Cloudy with a chance of rain: The Portland Daily Sun has been around for nearly two months.
Does anybody care?
Not if you’re the sort of person who picked up the free daily expecting to find hard news. The Sun has offered its readers occasional mini-scoops, such as last weeks’ article on the new doors being installed on Portland’s historic Custom House.
Then there was the stop-the-presses excitement of the story announcing the annual arrival in the city of migrating birds.
If only so much attention were being paid to Portland City Hall. On March 16, when the City Council hosted a lengthy public hearing and debate on a controversial historic district for the downtown area, the meeting dragged on past the Sun’s relatively early deadline (the rival Portland Press Herald got the complete story in its first edition for March 17).
The print Sun promised complete information would be posted on its Web site that morning, but the outdated online version didn’t get changed until afternoon – and then, only superficially.
The update carried a new headline and a quick mention of the ordinance’s approval, but failed to include the council vote or any comments from councilors. It’s as if the Sun reporter (editor Curtis Robinson) left the meeting part-way through the public hearing and didn’t bother to find out what happened until the next day.
On major news of city government, the Sun consistently runs behind the Press Herald, which itself runs behind outlets like the Forecaster and Bollard. The Sun holds its own with other print media in covering crimes, accidents and other police blotter material, but the chances are high that anyone interested in that stuff already got the news off the tube the night before. The free daily has carried a couple of interesting op-eds, which would be an acceptable average if it were a monthly. And it devotes an inordinate amount of its limited news hole to lengthy features of no great consequence.
Investigative work? Are you kidding?
For a paper with two full-time reporters and an editor/reporter, the hard-news output is almost as meager as the paid advertising.
If – or more likely, when – the Sun folds, it won’t be much of a loss.
Blom’s away: Portland Press Herald business editor (or as the position is currently titled, editor of the money and resources team) Eric Blom is calling it quits after 21 years at the paper to join Yarmouth-based Broadreach Public Relations, where he’ll be vice president of communications. According to an announcement sent to PPH staff today, Blom’s last day is April 3, so he’ll likely be gone before the paper is sold. Blom has been the Press Herald’s business editor since 2002. Before that, he served as city editor and as a business reporter.
No replacement has been named.
Mathematically challenged: A sub-headline on a March 21 Lewiston Sun Journal story about a proposed wind farm in Carthage: “Total development could have up to 17 turbines running”
From the article itself:
“Todd Presson, chief operating officer for Patriot Renewables, a Quincy, Mass.-based company, said at least 12 turbines … are in the early planning stages …. Another six or seven towers could also be built on an adjacent 300 acres owned by the town, Presson said.”
Coming soon: a story saying the state budget deficit is getting smaller.
Grammatically challenged: A headline on Maine Public Broadcasting’s Web site on March 17: “Verso CEO Stresses Financial Difficulties in Meeting With Governor”
Baldacci is charging an entry fee?
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.