Putting on Ayers: The Lewiston Sun Journal embarrassed itself and insulted its readers when it ran a story headlined “Author, activist to speak at UMF.” The unbylined piece, which appeared online on March 25 and in print on March 28, is actually a barely edited press release from the University of Maine in Farmington announcin
Shameless sucking up: The Bangor Daily News editorial page has long been respectful of Republican U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to the point of obsequiousness. But the March 21 opinion piece headlined “These ladies of Maine and their independent ways” sets a new standard of deference.
Too dim: I give the Portland Daily Sun, a free-circulation paper, credit for at least trying to cover the mayoral campaign in Portland.
That’s more than the rival Portland Press Herald is doing.
Another MaineToday Media “treasure”: The series of profiles of Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s cabinet members that’s been running in the MaineToday Media newspapers the past few weeks has been embarrassing for the lack of depth and the relentlessly rosy portrayals. According to MTM, every one of these people is supremely qualified, dedicated, hard-working, intelligent and fair. Just ask their friends.
What more do you need to know?
Grants’ tomb: The Web site New Maine Times doesn’t exactly plan to take up where the old Maine Times left off, which is good, because that alternative weekly newspaper ended its run in 2002 in financial disaster. But NMT, which will begin posting stories and features on April 15, still faces some serious questions about its business plan and its journalistic future.
NMT is being organized as a non-profit organization, according to owner/editor Gina Hamilton.
Lamer disclaimer: Maine newspapers are generally careful to explain who writes the op-ed columns they publish. Most news organizations in the state clearly reveal the affiliations of people mentioned and quoted in their stories. Some, such as the Lewiston Sun Journal, go to great lengths to verify the identities of posters on their Web sites.
But when it comes to the letters page, disclosure requirements seem to be mostly ignored.
A member of Gov. Paul LePage’s administration brought this example to my attention.
Riskind watch: Jonathan Riskind, the chief of the MaineToday Media papers’ one-half-person Washington bureau (the other half of him works for the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.), has been celebrated by his employer in house ads as a “National Treasure.” But Riskind has demonstrated nothing in his brief tenure to justify that designation.
Thaxton splits: Steve Thaxton, general manager of the Gannett-owned WCSH-TV in Portland and WLBZ-TV in Bangor, is leaving after more than a dozen years at the stations. Thaxton will become vice president and general manager of WCPO in Cincinnati.
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.