Big Bucks Behind Village Soup Disaster
Expensive bowlful: In the April 19 Bangor Daily News, former Village Soup reporter Stephen Betts has a revealing story about the upcoming auction of the remaining assets of what was once Richard Anderson’s mini-media empire.
Anderson’s Village Soup company bought the Courier Publications newspapers in 2008, apparently for over $8 million, according to documents Betts dug up in the Knox County Registry of Deeds. They show that the First N.A. Bank of Damariscotta made two loans to Anderson’s corporations at that time, one for $7.5 million and the other for $823,000. It also extended a line of credit totaling $12 million.
It’s not clear how much of that cash the bank will ever recover. Reade Brower, publisher of the Free Press in Rockland, purchased the non-real estate assets of Village Soup in March, a couple of weeks after Anderson shut all five of his papers down. The sale price wasn’t revealed, but was almost certainly a fraction of what it was in 2008. Now the First is planning auctions of two properties in May, the old Courier printing plant in Rockland and a commercial building in Camden. Combined, they have assessed values of about $1.2 million.
Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in the revived Soup papers, as it did in those publications when Anderson owned them. And as with the bank, he went out of business owning me money.
The dope on dope: Maine Public Radio’s Jay Field did an outstanding job this week in reporting on the problem of prescription drug diversion in the state. The multi-part series that ran on “Maine Things Considered” not only provided a perceptive look at the origins of the problem, but also the failures and successes of attempts to deal with the issue. There was a lot of fresh information, making this the rare sort of in-depth journalism that can result in real change.
My only criticism is that public radio doesn’t make it easy to access the entire series on its Web site. It took me several search attempts to find most of the parts.
From the MaineToday Media self-promotion department: According to a story in the April 19 Portland Press Herald, MaineToday Media has hired two new reporters to help rebuild its decimated newsroom. They are Jessica Hall, a former business journalist for Reuters wire service, and Gillian Graham, who worked for the Forecaster and Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier weeklies. Hall will do business reporting for the Press Herald, while Graham will hit the Greater Portland suburban beat.
No mention of it in the Portland paper, but MaineToday has also hired Michael Shepherd, a capable young reporter for the Maine Campus, the student newspaper at the University of Maine in Orono.
Monkeying around: The April 19 Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal carried a story by staff writer Ben McCanna on Matt Apuzzo, a former intern at the papers who this week was part of an Associated Press team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of illegal surveillance of Muslims by New York City police. The online version of the article was fine, but in print, it contained this gem:
“In 2006, he moved Washington, D.C., to be a legal affairs writer for the ape …”
I can sympathize. I’ve had editors who were real baboons, too.
Al Diamon can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.