Portland Press Herald Distribution Woes
Delivery blip: Copies of the Portland Press Herald were unavailable in most of the state on Dec. 1 and 2. So far, there’s been no official explanation for the absence of the paper outside greater Portland. Calls to the Press Herald’s circulation department and to Hudson Rpm Distributors of Gorham, the company that handles statewide delivery for the paper, were not returned.
A source at the Press Herald with knowledge of the situation said MaineToday Media, the paper’s parent company, had fallen behind on payments to Hudson, causing the distributor to halt shipments for two days until MTM brought its account up to date.
If that information is correct, it’s the second time in recent weeks that MaineToday has been accused by a major vendor of failing to pay its bills. In November, the company was sued by McGrann Paper Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., for overdue payments for newsprint amounting to $124,000.
These indications of serious financial problems at MTM have fueled another kind of circulation, that of the rumor mill. Unsubstantiated reports that HM Capital Partners of Dallas, Texas, is seeking to sell its substantial share in MaineToday were fueled by the news that HM Capital has parted ways with Peter Brodsky, the partner in that company who had engineered the MTM deal. Shortly after the split, HM announced it would no longer be making investments in newspapers. Brodsky remains the chairman of MaineToday’s board of directors.
Now, how did they miss all that? On Dec. 4, the Maine Sunday Telegram ran a long piece by staff writer Susan Cover on the controversy surrounding MaineHousing executive director Dale McCormick. The package included a sidebar on McCormick’s background that was credited to Cover, but reads as if it had been written by McCormick’s public relations staff. No mention of her unsuccessful 1996 run for Congress. Nothing about the bare-knuckles political style she used to win the state treasurer’s position the following year. Not a word about expensive failures on her watch at the housing authority, such as a $1.1 million federal grant for alternative energy systems that didn’t work.
A little digging might have produced a lot more balance.
Freedom ain’t even close to free: Nice article by Mario Moretto in the Dec. 2 southern edition of the Forecaster on the illegal public-access policies of the Scarborough School Department. Scarborough already charges more than state law allows for copies of public documents – as much as $30 an hour – and was considering raising the fee even more – up to $50 per hour – until informed that Maine statutes limit the charge to a maximum of $10 per hour.
The board is now reassessing its plans and trying to figure out how to bring its policy in line with the law.
Al Diamon can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.