McMullin Out at Journal Tribune
Drew gets through: There’s been a change at the top at the Journal Tribune in Biddeford. Editor Drew McMullin resigned on May 22, making the announcement public in an editorial in the afternoon daily.
McMullin gave no reason for the move, but he’s helmed the Sample-owned paper for five years, during which he’s dealt with severe budget restrictions by assuming additional responsibilities at the paper himself. On hearing of McMullin’s resignation, one media insider, speaking only half in jest, put it this way: “They just lost their editor, circulation manager, advertising director and janitor all at once.”
McMullin hasn’t said what he plans to do next. In his editorial, he wrote, “Change isn’t an easy thing. Fear of what comes next dominates one’s psyche, and I cannot say that I am not at least a bit timid about what could happen in my next career pursuit.”
A person familiar with the situation said McMullin will be leaving journalism to work in the utility industry.
McMullin also resigned as president of the Maine Press Association, which represents many of the state’s paid-circulation daily and weekly papers. “It kind of caught us by surprise,” said MPA executive director Mike Lange, who said the association got word McMullin was leaving by e-mail on the same day he published his farewell editorial.
As of this morning, no replacement had been named, but a representative of Pennsylvania-based Sample was in Biddeford holding meetings, and, according to a JT staff member who asked not to be named, an announcement is expected shortly.
Station stagnation: WJZF in Standish (97.1 FM) is in danger of going off the air. According to a story in the Lakes Region Weekly, the low-power, non-commercial station, operated out of program manager David Patterson’s house, has no income from underwriters or listener donations and is unable to cover its $500 per month in expenses. If that doesn’t change by Oct. 1, Patterson said he’d have to shut down.
WJZF is one of just three low-power FMs in Maine (the others are in Portland and Rockland). It airs a mix of music (“The Bud Sawyer Show”), political discussion (“Lane and Tommy Unglued”) and other ultra-local programming.
Elliott gets his grievance: The Portland Newspaper Guild has finally filed a grievance on behalf of former Morning Sentinel reporter Joel Elliott over his firing in January.
The notice was filed on May 18, according to an e-mail from Elliott.
Elliott’s dismissal was allegedly the result of complaints from, among others, Colby College in Waterville, where Sentinel editor Eric Conrad’s wife works. The college has denied it had any role in the firing. Conrad has refused to comment.
The union initially seemed reluctant to pursue the case, at one point telling Elliott in an e-mail that the grievance would be filed only if the sale of the Blethen Maine Newspapers (which owns the Sentinel) to Pennsylvania newspaper publisher Richard Connor fell through. When that e-mail was made public this spring, guild president Tom Bell denied that was his organization’s intention and insisted the case would be pursued.
It took a while, but it appears Bell is correct.
Bailey’s future: Public-relations whiz Dennis Bailey has served as official spokesman for Connor and his shifting partnerships throughout their pursuit of the Blethen papers. But what becomes of Bailey if the deal, as expected, is completed in the next several days?
“We’ve had no discussion about that,” Bailey said.
He admitted there could be “potential sorts of conflict of interest” if he continued his usual PR business while also fronting for Connor once he becomes publisher of the Portland Press Herald.
It looks like more than just potential. Bailey is frequently in the news representing everyone from political candidates to businesses caught up in controversy. It’s not difficult to imagine a scenario in which he’d find himself protecting a client from hostile questions from a reporter who works for a newspaper he also represents.
Asked about a situation in which he might be doing the talking for both sides, Bailey joked, “That’s my dream.”
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.