Do Maine’s Newspapers Have a Future?
Cloudy crystal ball: On May 7 at 10 a.m., the Maine Press Association, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, and Vox Global (a Washington-based public relations firm with an office in Portland) will sponsor a forum called “The Future of Maine’s Newspapers” at the Holiday Inn By The Bay in Portland.
Tony Ronzio, new media director for the Sun Media Group (the Lewiston Sun Journal and its chain of weeklies).
Tom Bell, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and president of the Portland Newspaper Guild.
Todd Benoit, director of news and new media at the Bangor Daily News.
Terry Carlisle, vice president and general manager of the Ellsworth American.
Bill Kuykendall, journalism professor at the University of Maine.
Coddling Collins: If you get all your news from the Bangor Daily News, you could be excused for thinking U.S. Senator Susan Collins is the hero who may have saved the U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Hampden. According to the BDN’s April 26 account by staff writer Andrew Neff, the Senate approved “Collins’ bill” to preserve many rural facilities by a sizable margin. Collins is said to have “authored the bill,” along with several other senators mentioned in passing. Nothing in Neff’s story explains why anyone would want to shut the Hampden facility down, eliminating 180 jobs. Opponents are mentioned only obliquely.
For a more objective view of the matter, check out the Associated Press coverage, which makes no mention of Collins and devotes considerable space to the serious problems the postal service still faces, problems the bill Collins is said to have authored doesn’t address. Reading this piece raises the question of whether Maine’s junior senator put parochialism ahead of sound policy, an issue the Bangor paper seems inclined to ignore.
Not paying attention to LePage: The Bangor Daily missed out on one of the top stories of last week, even though it had a reporter at the event. Staff writer Alex Barber covered Governor Paul LePage’s capital-for-a-day event in Newport on April 26, but made no mention of the governor calling state employees “corrupt.”
That comment, reported in the Portland Press Herald and elsewhere, produced a firestorm of criticism, a clarification or two from the LePage administration and some frantic catch-up work by the Bangor paper, which had to cite “press accounts” to explain what all the fuss was about.
Since LePage said little else that was newsworthy at the event, it’s difficult to figure how Barber could have let the “corrupt” comment slip by.
Unless he nodded off.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.