Nothing About Blethen
Broken Harte: There’s a minor Maine connection to the stories out of Minneapolis last week about the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of that city’s daily paper, the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune’s publisher is Chris Harte, who was once president of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram and is currently a major investor in the five Current weekly newspapers covering parts of southern Maine.
(Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in three of the Current papers.)
The Minneapolis daily is the 15th largest paper in the country. In its court filing it listed debts of $661 million and assets of $493 million, which is still somewhere close to the $530 million Harte and his partners in a private equity firm paid for the paper in 2007.
Solid Woodard: Investigative journalists are about as common in Maine as racial minorities – hmmm, there’s a correlation that might be worth exploring – but Colin Woodard is one of the best of that small-but-select group. Investigative reporters, I mean, not racial minorities.
On the scraps paid to freelancers, Woodard somehow keeps turning out in-depth scoops on everything from the economics of cruise ships to the quirks in state law that allow local officials to destroy campaign-finance documents after as little as two years, as well as a continuing flow of well-regarded books.
Worth checking out.
Weak signal: If you’re nervous about what will happen to your TV reception on Feb. 17, the date all stations must switch to digital signals, you have some reason to be. As the Bangor Daily News reported on Jan. 19, Maine Public Broadcasting has been getting complaints from people who can no longer receive its programming over the air, some of them from right in Bangor itself.
The comment section at the end of this story is particularly revealing, indicating there’s a lot of frustration out there over how this technological switch is being handled.
Nothing like a whole lot of political pressure, backed up with a face-saving claim that savings will somehow be found in long-term electrical costs, to allow a network to squeeze out of an ill-considered decision.
Too-strong signal: In his weekly cheers-and-jeers editorial on Jan. 17, Lewiston Sun Journal editorial page editor Tony Ronzio had an odd suggestion for making online political discourse in Rumford more civil.
Posters on several local sites, including the Sun Journal’s, have, according to the editorial, been “savage” in their criticisms of municipal officials. These mostly anonymous critics are also accused of being less than factual on occasion.
Ronzio makes it clear he’s not for censorship, but he does seem to be endorsing something almost as alien to journalists. He suggests town officials can lessen the impact of the e-attacks “by not doing one simple thing – reading them.”
Not reading the paper’s Web site? Now there’s a marketing concept.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.