September 10, 2007
In case you missed it, the Bangor Daily News has come to its senses. After a couple of weeks of controversy over two of its editors' connections to candidates in the upcoming U.S. Senate race in Maine (see "How to Shed Cred"), the BDN announced in its Saturday, Sept. 8 edition that it was taking steps to reduce the perception that it had an enormous conflict of interest.
Executive editor Mark Woodward, who is Republican Sen. Susan Collins former press secretary and whose wife works in Collins' Bangor office, and assignment editor Tim Allen, cousin of Democratic Congressman Tom Allen, have both "recused themselves" from any role in the paper's campaign coverage. Woodward is quoted as saying he didn't think any real conflict existed, but that stepping aside to avoid damaging the paper's credibility was "only common sense." Allen echoed similar sentiments.
Five other editors - the story doesn't say who they are - will handle coverage of the Senate race.
The BDN had ignored Woodward's and Allen's ethical problems until the issue surfaced on several Web sites, including Daily Kos, shortly after the paper published an editorial critical of Allen. Editorial page editor Todd Benoit then wrote a column in which he admitted the two had ties to the candidates, but dismissed the criticism as politically motivated.
Al Diamon has a long pedigree in the Maine media, having spent the past 30 years in radio, TV, print and, now, on the Internet. He writes the weekly column "Politics & Other Mistakes," which appears in 10 Maine newspapers, as well as the monthly column "The Other Column," which appears in three. Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.