Media Mutt Blog Archive 2011
Outsourcing the news: Since at least the mid-1990s, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have had a chilly relationship. Occasional hints of the two moderate Republicans’ dislike for each other have crept into news stories, particularly after both women ended up in the U.S. Senate. But in recent years, most of the reporters and editors who were aware of the animosity either retired or took buy-outs, leaving another gaping blank space in the Maine media’s institutional memory.
Fuddy-duddy study: The Maine Press Association held a State House news conference on May 3 to announce that the state’s newspaper industry is “an economic engine.” To prove it, the group released a study by Planning Decisions Inc. of South Portland that shows the annual sales of all Maine papers is almost equal to the sales of potatoes. In real numbers, that comes to $154 million in 2010.
Renovation rant: As MaineToday Media’s executive editor and a member of its editorial board, Scott Wasser has plenty of opportunities to express his opinion. He can set the tone and direction of editorials. He can write op-ed pieces. He’s got his own weekly car column that he sometimes turns into nothing short of an advertising vehicle for local dealers.
The Bangor Daily News sent out an internal email on April 29 announcing several staffing changes and what appears to be an increased emphasis on its online product. I haven’t seen a copy, but the following information is based on interviews with three people who have.
On the bright side, the paper is adding one reporter. A new position will cover the coast, particularly from Rockland south. Christopher Cousins, currently in the Pittsfield bureau, will take that job. Presumably, the new hire will replace Cousins in Somerset County.
Missing the story: There was one reporter in the room on April 1, when then-Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Philip Congdon made his controversial remarks to the Caribou Chamber of Commerce.
She just didn’t write a story about it.
Sticker shock: It could be argued that MaineToday Media executive editor Scott Wasser’s weekly car column isn’t really journalism. Wasser’s pieces tend toward the gushy when he likes the car and the exceedingly gentle when he doesn’t. It appears he’s more concerned with not annoying large advertisers than he is with informing readers of the merits of any particular automobile.
Online off course: In my part of the state, the Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald don’t arrive until mid-morning most days. That means that if I want to know what they’re covering, I’m dependent on their websites.
Failing journalism 101: There are certain fundamental questions reporters and editors are supposed to make sure their stories answer. Lately, there have been disturbing signs that some Maine journalists – all of whom should know better – have been ignoring or neglecting these crucial aspects of the news business.
Thorough exam: On April 12, the Maine Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee held a public hearing on a fistful of bills to change the way the state regulates health insurance. Much of the proposed legislation would have profound impacts on the way people pay for doctor and hospital visits, medication, and emergency care.
The Maine media responded by … well, mostly they didn’t.
The state Public Utilities Commission does things that affect nearly every person in Maine. I doubt the same could be said about the search committee for a new University of Maine women’s basketball coach.