Belfast, Rockland Papers Saved
Free Press publisher to the rescue: Reade Brower moved fast. The publisher of the Free Press, the Rockland based free-distribution weekly, reached an agreement on March 12 to buy the assets of Village Soup, the defunct owner of four Maine weeklies. Soup owner Richard Anderson had announced on March 9 that the company was ceasing operations effective immediately.
According to an interview Brower gave to the Bangor Daily News, he hopes to close the deal within a few days and restart the papers in Belfast and Rockland, possibly as soon as next week. He said he intended to rehire most of the old staff of what had formerly been the Republican Journal and Courier Gazette (although both papers had undergone recent name changes under Soup).
Although Brower is buying all of Village Soup’s assets, he said he has no intention of reviving the company’s papers in Bar Harbor – where there’s stiff competition from the Mount Desert Islander – and Augusta – where the market for a weekly has always been weak.
Several other publishers and would-be publishers had been considering moving into the void left in the midcoast by Soup’s collapse. It’s not yet clear if any of them will continue with those plans in light of Brower’s quick action.
(Disclosure: My weekly political column ran in the Village Soup papers, and I have had email discussions with the editor of the Free Press about running it there or in the resuscitated Belfast and Rockland papers.)
Doonesbury do-over: The Bangor Daily News finally got around to explaining its decision not to carry this week’s controversial “Doonesbury” comic strips on birth control and abortion. The paper, which has always placed the feature on its opinion page, printed a brief comment at the end of its lead editorial on March 13, stating that “explicit language would have offended some.”
The March 13 strip featured the word “slut.”
Meanwhile, the MaineToday Media papers did a flip flop on the issue. The Morning Sentinel, which printed the abortion-related strip on March 12, decided to run an old Doonesbury replacement on March 13. The paper offered no explanation. Its sister publication, the Portland Press Herald, ran the inoffensive version on March 12 and 13 on the comics page, but printed the controversial version for both days on the March 13 editorial page, where it said the strip would remain for the rest of the week because it “might offend young readers.”
As if the Press Herald has any. And as if they’d be offended if it did.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.