Media Mutt Blog Archive May, 2011
Dear Senator, Send Money: On May 18, Christine Sobiech, executive assistant to MaineToday Media CEO Richard Connor, sent an email to all the company’s employees, including reporters and editors who work for the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel.
Several years ago, I was talking with Peter Cox, one of the founders of the original Maine Times, about an uncomfortable topic. Why, I asked Cox, were so many stories in his alternative weekly paper so … er … boring?
“I don’t care if the stories are boring,” Cox said, “so long as they’re important. In some cases, the stories are intentionally boring.”
Well, nobody ever questioned Cox’s commitment to hardcore journalism.
I’m not asking the Maine media to be critical of George Mitchell. For far too long, local news organizations have treated the former U.S. Senate majority leader from Waterville as a deity as revered as Margaret Chase Smith or Bill Cohen. To admit in print or on the air that an icon such as Mitchell had failed at something is well beyond not only the local media’s capabilities and but their imaginations, as well.
Ten p.m. bedtime: MaineToday Media – owner of the Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and Portland Press Herald – had reporter Tom Bell on duty on the evening of May 11 as the state Senate debated the health-insurance reform bill. When the legislation finally passed shortly after 10 p.m., Bell filed a detailed story.
The latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for Maine newspapers were released on May 9, and contrary to comments from some Maine publishers, they show continued sharp declines in the average number of papers sold.
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.