Connor’s mixed metaphors
Rich’s poor writing: If evidence is required of the need for a constitutional amendment prohibiting MaineToday Media publisher Richard Connor from ever writing another weekly column, consider the first sentence of his July 5 offering in the Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel:
“In Maine, both fall and football combine in perfect pitch for a sports symphony in which everything fits as snug as the sweater you might wear to a game.”
Uh … what?
After some meandering, the piece eventually devolves into a predictable rant about how Congress shouldn’t interfere in the way college football chooses its national champion. Which, some readers may have noticed, has virtually nothing to do with symphonies, sweaters, or football in Maine, since no school in the state is eligible for the Bowl Championship Series.
The reason for this disjointed monologue may be that Connor was attempting – not very successfully – to recycle a column that ran in his Pennsylvania paper, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the day before.
Slapping a few virtually meaningless paragraphs on the beginning of the piece to make it appear to have some relevance to Maine makes this state seem like an afterthought.
Connor could use his space to write about his plans for the newspapers. He could discuss an issue relating to coverage of important events in Maine or the nation. Or he could exercise some restraint, and free up room for somebody else with something to say.
Wasser’s delayed announcement: MaineToday Media executive editor Scott Wasser has finally made his presence known to readers of the company’s newspapers. In unbylined stories (credited to “staff report”) in the July 3 Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal, and (credited to multiple “staff reports”) in the July 5 Maine Sunday Telegram, the official announcement of Wasser’s appointment to the post was finally made public.
Apparently, this means Wasser has decided to stay in Maine – the article says he’s moving to the Portland area – ending earlier speculation that he might be in the state only temporarily while helping publisher Connor with the transition.
Editing is taxing: The July 5 Maine Sunday Telegram ran a lengthy piece by staff writer Beth Quimby on the state’s controversial tax reform law that could have benefited from more editorial attention. If somebody with a sharp eye and a sharper pencil had gone over the front-page story carefully, this sentence probably wouldn’t have survived:
“The [Tax Foundation] lauded [the reform law’s] revenue neutrality and stabilizing effects on state revenues, but criticized it for expanding the list of services that won’t be taxed across the border in New Hampshire.”
No doubt Granite State officials were shocked to discover Maine lawmakers possessed the ability to do away with taxes on sales in another state.
While much of the material Quimby included was helpful in understanding the tax changes that will take effect in January, some of the charts were confusing, and the tax scenarios didn’t include one for young married couples with no kids, a key demographic for any media outlet looking to grow its audience.
The Lewiston Sun Journal also ran a far less comprehensive tax-reform piece by reporter Rebekah Metzler. It attempted to deal with “the common myths” associated with the legislation.
Trouble is, the myths were listed in bold type without equally bold indications that the sentences weren’t factual. A reader skimming the article could be excused for concluding incorrectly that “Only the wealthy will benefit from the tax changes” or “The elderly and the poor will not benefit because they don’t pay income tax and will end up paying more in sales tax.” A more astute editor would have preceded each of those statements with the word “Myth” to prevent confusion.
That editor would also have blue-penciled this myth: “Candy, car repairs, dog haircuts and ski lift tickets are getting taxed,” since it mixes fact and fiction. The first three items are taxed by the new law. The last one isn’t. Why mix them together, unless you’re trying to confuse people?