Media Mutt Blog Archive March, 2012
Transparency deficit: If MaineToday Media is serious about disclosing conflicts of interest and other ethical problems that will undoubtedly arise as a result of its new ownership, it failed miserably in its first test.
Meaty reporting: The Hannaford chain of supermarkets is a major employer in Maine. The company wields considerable clout in both the business world and in politics. And Hannaford is a big advertiser in the state’s media – a factor it has not, on occasion, been shy about employing to guard against unfavorable coverage.
Competition for Village Soup readers: Reade Browers, publisher of the Free Press in Rockland, has confirmed to Mainebiz that he’s planning to revive three of the former Village Soup weekly newspapers in the midcoast.
The company that has purchased the assets of the Village Soup newspaper chain is considering reviving the weekly Camden Herald. The Herald ceased to exist in 2008, when it was merged with Village Soup’s Rockland-based Courier-Gazette to become the Herald Gazette. That paper was renamed the Village Soup Gazette, shortly before the company folded earlier this year.
Medical jackpot: For three years, the Lewiston Sun Journal and reporter Lindsay Tice have been tracking hospital expenses in Maine. The latest edition of this important annual series appeared March 18 and once again revealed that the high cost of health care has some surprising causes.
A trip by the Wire: The Maine Wire, the news website of the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center think tank, is apparently unfamiliar with standard journalistic practice. The Wire seems to think it’s unethical for reporters to thoroughly investigate rumors they hear or tips they receive. Which is odd, because that’s where a significant percentage of all news comes from.
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.
No online miracles: The Village Soup idea began back in the late 1990s as a hyper-local news Web site in Knox County.
That didn’t make money.
It expanded to Waldo County.
That didn’t make money, either.
It tried a paywall.
Still in the red.
It started print newspapers to compete with Courier Publications' established publications, the Courier Gazette in Rockland, the Camden Herald and the Republican Journal in Belfast.
That didn’t turn a profit.
The plus: On March 8, the Portland Press Herald, which is owned by MaineToday Media, carried a story produced by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting on legislative efforts to close an ethics loophole dealing with lawmakers whose companies or non-profit organizations did business with the state.
Making radio waves: As a veteran of talk radio (afternoons on WGAN in Portland from 1991-93), I know that nothing does more for ratings than to stir up a little controversy. Management loved it whenever angry callers announced, “I’m never going to listen to your station again.”
“Great,” they’d reply. “Be sure to tell all your friends.”
You couldn’t buy better publicity than that.