Media Mutt Blog Archive 2011
If you’re looking for an example of Maine news organizations’ over-reliance on press releases and public-relations handouts, look no further than the way they handled recent coverage of a U.S. District Court vacancy in the state.
For the most part, they didn’t handle it at all, except when some government office issued a statement.
Notice this: Maine has a law that requires the state to buy advertising space in newspapers. As a result, every year taxpayers are forced to kick in nearly half a million dollars to run public notices on rulemaking proceedings, legislative hearings, and other matters of marginal interest and limited importance.
Few people read them. Fewer still find anything of value in them. That’s because nearly everyone involved in whatever is being advertised is already aware of what’s going on.
Milk dud: Newspaper obituary writers walk a fine line. Like other reporters, they’re supposed to stick to the facts, presenting a balanced picture of their subjects’ lives. But if they did that, they’d have to deal not only with the accomplishments, awards and accolades, but also with the more unpleasant aspects of the deceased’s existence.
Slow reaction: On Feb. 16, Gov. Paul LePage held a news conference at which he made his now-infamous remark about the plastic additive bisphenol-A having no health consequences except that it might cause women to grow “little beards.”
For some odd reason, nearly a week went by before any news outlet reported on it.
Riskind watch: Another unimpressive week for the guy the MaineToday Media papers are promoting as a “National Treasure,” new Washington bureau chief Jonathan Riskind.
Riskind produced a Sunday feature piece for the Feb. 20 Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel on the state’s 2012 U.S. Senate race.
Under-reporting: Way down at the bottom of the Feb. 18 Portland Press Herald story by staff writer Rebekah Metzler on actions taken by the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, there are a few short paragraphs about that newspaper’s own ethics issue.
Chelsea mourning: Last August, the Kennebec Journal noticed something strange going on in the town of Chelsea.
Riskind watch: The MaineToday Media papers have been running house ads promoting Jonathan Riskind, their new Washington bureau chief, as a “national treasure.”
If that’s a reference to the wacky Nicolas Cage movie, it’s apt, because the MTM brass has so far employed Riskind in ways that are, like that flick, obscure and confusing.
Here’s a look at Riskind’s first full week on the job.
Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, is advising his board members not to pursue an investigation of the Portland Press Herald for donating more than $46,000 in free advertising to a political campaign.
Wayne posted his staff recommendations on the commission’s Web site late in the day on Feb. 8.
File under hypocrisy: For months, the Portland Press Herald has been running editorials critical of The Cutler Files, a defunct Web site filled with attacks (most of them true) on independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler.