Story-Swap Story Tells Only Part of the Story
What wasn’t said: Maine’s largest dailies are locked in a fierce fight with the Associated Press. But readers would have little idea of that from a Sept. 20 story that ran in the Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News, Lewiston Sun Journal, Waterville’s Morning Sentinel and Augusta’s Kennebec Journal.
But there’s more to the story-swapping deal. The arrangement is also an attempt to force the AP to make concessions on a new rate structure that takes effect next year. If that effort fails, the swap arrangement could be developed into a system that would replace the AP’s Maine news coverage with shared stories among the papers.
This conflict is only hinted at in Stone’s story. “In recent months,” he writes, “a number of newspapers across the country have announced plans to discontinue their AP memberships, reacting to the organization’s new rate structure and general direction toward providing more content for television stations and news Web sites rather than newspapers.”
Stone points out that no Maine newspaper has yet publicly threatened to quit the AP, but includes a not-too-subtle hint that such a move might not be all that far in the future. He quotes his boss, KJ and Sentinel editor Eric Conrad, as saying that as the story-swapping system grows, “There’s a chance that Maine AP news will be less valuable.”
So, how did the first day of the swap go? If Monday was any indication, the AP has little to worry about. The Bangor paper used one story from the previous day’s Sun Journal, a not-very-newsy report on a Democratic Party function that took place Saturday.
Nobody else swapped anything.
More of what wasn’t said: The Sept. 21 Morning Sentinel contained a serious editorial lapse. The paper reprinted an abbreviated version of a Maine Sunday Telegram profile of Democratic 1st Congressional District candidate Chellie Pingree on the second page of its B section.
The full Telegram story on Pingree appeared on the Sentinel’s Web site. (This wasn’t part of the story-swap deal. The two papers are owned by the same company and routinely share articles.)
But neither in print nor online did the Sentinel bother to run the companion piece from the Telegram on Pingree’s Republican opponent, Charlie Summers. There was no indication the Summers piece would appear on another day.
Editorial bias or editorial incompetence?
What he’s saying now: Former Press Herald Washington correspondent Jonathan Kaplan has a new – if temporary – job. According to the Media Bistro Web site, Kaplan is working as a political reporter for the Washington Independent until after the November election.
The show will feature video versions of stories from Mainebiz, as well as interviews, panel discussions, business tips and news. It’s scheduled to air Sundays after “Meet The Press.” The program is being produced, edited and hosted by Alan Hinsey of Cushing, who’s leaving his job as economic development specialist with the Knox/Waldo Regional Economic Development Council in mid-October to start his own production company. Hinsey also served in the administration of former Gov. Angus King as director of the Bureau of Labor Standards.
What she looks like: Cindy Michaels – anchor, reporter and producer for WVII and Fox 22 television in Bangor – looks like Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
She said one caller accused her of being “a Kmart version of Sarah Palin.”
Time to lose the lipstick.
What you’re looking at: Which Web sites in Maine attract the most people? That’s tough to say, because there are lots of different ways of measuring online activity, unique visitors and page views being but two of the most common.
By its own admission, the figures mentioned on the site are “not guaranteed to be 100 % Accurate” and are “offered as reference only.” Still, the site claims its numbers give “ a pretty good idea” of how much activity and money is being generated.
A quick check with several Maine site operators indicates the figure for “daily page views” may have some validity. But the “net worth” of each site and the “daily ad revenue” are more problematic. The site gives no indication of how it arrives at those figures.
For instance, Current Publishing’s Web site, keepmecurrent.com, is rated as having 1,900 daily page views. In an e-mail, publisher Lee Hews said, “We get about 30,000 distinct visitors per month who view an average of 3 or 4 pages each time they visit. The week of Sept. 7-14, we had 12, 642 page views of which 9,441 were unique.” But Hews said the estimated revenue for her site, $5.70 a day, is much too low. (Disclosure: My political column runs in three of the Current papers. It also runs in several of the publications mentioned below, including villagesoup.com and the Portland Phoenix.)
At The Bollard, a Portland news site, publisher/editor Chris Busby disputed Outlook’s claim he received only 569 daily page views, saying his Web server sets the figure at nearly twice that. As for revenue, Busby e-mailed, “Our online ad rates are available to the public, so maybe they added up all the ads on the site somehow, but they could not know the value of individual ad contracts. For example, a single year-long contract, of which we have several, would exceed $1,200 in value in nearly all cases (rotating ads on lesser-viewed pages would be a bit less than that). Their use of a daily ad revenue figure may indicate they assume we charge per click (we don't).”
As for the net worth figure, no one I talked to had a clear idea of what a site might be worth on the open market.
In any case, here are a few examples (keep in mind that this site doesn’t rate sub-addresses, so the MaineToday site supposedly covers all the Blethen Maine Newspaper’s online activities, including the sites of its three dailies.) Sites are listed in order of their alleged net worth.
(Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, etc.)
net worth: $94,841.60
daily page views: 43,305
daily ad revenues: $129.92
(Portland, Boston Phoenix, etc.)
net worth: $70,028.90
daily page views: 31,976
daily ad revenues: $95.93
*corrected from erroneous Phoenix.com ratings.
(Portsmouth Herald, York Weekly, etc.)
net worth: $63,969.90
daily page views: 28,544
daily ad revenues: $87.63
net worth: $38,558.60
daily page views: 17,606
daily ad revenues: $52.82
(Bangor Daily News)
net worth: $32,733.20
daily page views: 14,947
daily ad revenues: $44.84
(Lewiston Sun Journal)
net worth: $29,857
daily page views: 13,632
daily ad revenues: $40.90
net worth: $24,352.80
daily page views: 11,119
daily ad revenues: $33.36
(Courier Gazette, Bar Harbor Times, etc.)
net worth: $23,987.80
daily page views: 10,953
daily ad revenues: $32.86
(Brunswick Times Record)
net worth: $12,431.90
daily page views: 5,676
daily ad revenues: $17.01
net worth: $8,489.90
daily page views: 3,876
daily ad revenues: $11.63
net worth: $6,971.50
daily page views: 2,517
daily ad revenues: $9.55
net worth: $6,840.10
daily page views: 3,123
daily ad revenues: $9.37
net worth: $5,475
daily page views: 2,501
daily ad revenues: $7.50
(Maine Public Broadcasting Network)
net worth: $5,336.30
daily page views: 2,438
daily ad revenues: $7.31
(political news site)
net worth: $4,891
daily page views: 1,488
daily ad revenues: $6.70
(American Journal, Lake Region Weekly, etc.)
net worth: $4,161
daily page views: 1,900
daily ad revenues: $5.70
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.