Sen. Collins Gets a Pass From the Maine Media
Early wedding gift: Last week’s announcement by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins that’s she’s engaged to be married was handled by the Maine media with the same timidity that’s been the hallmark of coverage of the state’s congressional delegation dating back several decades.
As Dan Aibel at the Collins Watch website pointed out, the senator’s fiancé, Tom Daffron, has a background that’s considerably more complicated – and controversial – than what’s described in the announcement from Collins’ office. But most Maine news outlets did virtually no additional reporting on him, preferring the safer route of parroting the official line that Daffron is a “longtime Senate senior staff member and a consultant.”
After all, nobody wants to get on Collins’ bad side. Might get cut off from the press release list.
The Portland Press Herald was daring enough to note that the senator’s husband-to-be works for a lobbying firm, but hastily added he is “not a registered lobbyist.” As Aibel points out, Daffron is a former lobbyist and the current chief operating officer of a major K Street lobbying firm. To characterize him as something else is engaging in spin for Collins’ benefit.
Capital exodus: HM Capital Partners of Dallas, Texas, the major investor in MaineToday Media (parent company of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel) has apparently gotten rid of its sizable stake in the Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co. in Pennsylvania. That ownership interest is now listed as a “realized investment” on HM Capital’s website. That term probably means the shares have been sold, although there’s no indication to whom.
HM Capital had earlier expressed dissatisfaction with the return on its media investments, leading to speculation it might sell off some properties. A tentative sale of its interest in MaineToday is pending, although its still listed as part of its current portfolio. HM Capital was brought into the deals to buy both newspaper companies by Richard Connor, who was ousted last year as CEO of MaineToday and Wilkes-Barre.
Digital divide? MaineToday Digital, the online marketing company started by Connor and his partners at MaineToday Media, abruptly removed all links to the MTM newspapers from its website a few days ago, leading to speculation the jointly owned businesses were preparing for separation. But Barry Jackman, MTD’s director of advertising and marketing, said that’s not the case.
“It’s probably an indication were doing maintenance on the website,” Jackman said. “It means nothing at all.”
Prepared for a fast move: MaineToday Media is still trying to sell off its real estate, but isn’t having much luck in Waterville. According to a story in the Feb. 8 Morning Sentinel, the Baldacci Group, the consulting company MTM hired to convince Waterville city councilors to purchase the Sentinel’s building for a new police station, failed to close the deal. But the councilors’ rejection in favor of another site wasn’t because it would take the newspaper too long to move out. According to the article:
“The Baldacci Group's timeline presented to the city estimated the Sentinel building could be vacated between March 5 and 9 and, with changes, could be ready for police by the end of the summer.”
Maybe everybody will be working from home.
Sun shifts: The Portland Daily Sun has a new base. The nearly three-year-old free daily is setting up offices in the Time and Temperature Building on Congress Street. In a surprisingly frank story in the Feb. 8 edition, publisher Mark Guerringue admitted the paper is still struggling financially, but he expects growth in 2012. He also promised an improved Web site by the end of the month.
The Sun says it prints 13,000 copies five days a week.
Radio shift: WAEI (104.7 FM) in Belfast has switched formats and call letters. Gone is programming from Fox Sports Network. The new WBAK is playing classic hits, leading to speculation that some sort of merger is in the works with WABK (104.3 FM) in Gardiner. Both stations are owned by Blueberry Broadcasting.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.