How Not To Stop a Rumor
Independent stonewalling: Rumors began circulating this week that the Independent Publishing Group in Windham was shutting down two of its three weekly papers, the Gray-New Gloucester Independent and the Tri-Town Independent, which serves Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot. According to the industry gossip, the company was also laying off several people.
Calls to editor and publisher Joshua Shea and vice president of business development Blaine Davis were not returned, but Shea did e-mail me. “Not shutting down papers,” he wrote, “but thanks for letting me know the rumor is out there.”
I e-mailed back, again requesting a phone interview and asking if there had been cutbacks at the company. In response, I got another e-mail from Shea.
“As for any cuts or changes,” he said, “I kind of look at that as an ongoing process. I can point to things I've cut and changed all year, things I've added and will probably continue to do so. I'm just finishing my first year as publisher and this company looks radically different than it did last April, but I still think there's a lot of work to do.”
Particularly on the public relations front.
(Disclosure: My weekly political column appears in some of Current Publishing’s papers, which compete with the Independent publications.)
Beacon to be lit? The Bangor Daily News is inching closer to a decision on publishing a weekly paper in Knox and Waldo counties.
According to BDN executive editor Mark Woodward, the proposed publication will be called the Mid-Coast Beacon. A mockup of the paper is currently being shown to potential advertisers in the area to determine how much interest they have, Woodward said. There’s no deadline for making a decision, he said, although some businesspeople in Rockland were told the Beacon could debut as soon as May.
“We want to be certain it’s the right thing to do, particularly given these times,” Woodward said. “A good weekly paper will always find local readership, but it needs advertising support to survive.”
The Beacon will be a free publication and will feature stories from BDN staff writers (most of which will have already appeared in the daily paper), as well as court and business news, he said.
(Another disclosure: My weekly column also appears in the Herald Gazette, which circulates in the same territory.)
Solo shot: I wasn’t at the Maine Press Association’s spring conference in Augusta, so I’m relying on a published report by the Kennebec Journal’s Susan Cover as to what went down when featured speaker Matt Jacobson took the rostrum on April 2.
But from Cover’s coverage, it appears Jacobson, who’s both the president of Maine & Company and a Republican gubernatorial candidate, gave his standard campaign spiel about how to revive the state’s economy.
In an earlier posting, I asked MPA executive director Mike Lange if the organization, made up of many of the state’s paid-circulation dailies and weeklies, wasn’t concerned about appearing biased for giving Jacobson a platform, while ignoring his competition.
Lange said such concerns were groundless because Jacobson wouldn’t be focusing on his candidacy.
As it turned out, he just focused on the major themes of his candidacy.
Inflated statistics? According to a column Lewiston Sun Journal executive editor Rex Rhoades wrote for the April 3 edition of the paper, “the state’s major daily newspapers have several hundred reporters, editors and photographers searching their communities, large and small, for news.”
I’ve got my doubts.
Rhoades goes on to brag (although he says he isn’t) about his paper’s extensive coverage of the state Department of Agriculture’s raid on the former DeCoster egg farm, neglecting to mention that the only reason his staff got a jump on the competition was because they were tipped off by an animal rights group. Apparently, his vast array of reporters, while searching high and low for news, never considered doing its own follow-up on the DeCoster descendents, even though the facility has a decades-long history of abuses and violations and should have been a prime candidate for scrutiny.
Instead of wasting time and space complaining about Maine Public Radio using newspaper cutbacks as a fundraising tactic – the main subject of his column – Rhoades ought to consider devoting more time to directing his shrinking staff to being more alert to news in their own backyard.
Gutter ball: Portland Press Herald staff writer Glenn Jordan had an interesting story on a young bowler in the paper’s April 3 edition.
Too bad it was marred by some editor’s definition-deficient sub-headline that claimed 14-year-old Kenny Sweet had a “unique approach” to the sport.
Sweet’s two-handed style is, as Jordan points out, “unorthodox,” but it’s employed by a few other bowlers, including Australian star Jason Belmonte.
This misuse of the word “unique” to mean unusual is hardly unique. It’s just wrong.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.