New Editors at the KJ, Sentinel
Tony award: The Kennebec Journal in Augusta has captured a real prize. According to an e-mail sent to staff at the paper this week, the KJ’s new managing editor will be Tony Ronzio, currently the feisty editorial-page editor of the Lewiston Sun Journal. At the Lewiston paper, Ronzio earned a reputation for doing his homework (often uncovering news the reporting staff missed) and taking strong stands on important local issues (although the Sun Journal wimped out on the same-sex marriage referendum, refusing to endorse either side, a position that may have been more reflective of the paper’s ownership than Ronzio). He seems like just the guy to reinvigorate a newsroom that’s been drifting since MaineToday Media bought the paper in July.
Ronzio, who lives in nearby Hallowell, starts his new job Nov. 30. He’ll replace Jim Evans, who’ll shift over to the KJ’s sister paper, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, where he’ll assume the ME position that’s been vacant since George Myers resigned last month.
Evans, who was the KJ’s chief photographer before becoming city editor under the previous ownership, didn’t exactly electrify the Augusta paper’s coverage, but the Sentinel has been rudderless since Myers left (some might argue well before that), and any editorial direction is probably better than none.
Bill Thompson, who was hired out of Texas in August to become the editorial-page editor of the two papers, is now listed as the editor of both the KJ and Sentinel, although there doesn’t seem to have been any public announcement of that change (staff were informed a couple of weeks ago). Thompson’s name now appears on the masthead on the MaineToday-owned Portland Press Herald as a member of the company’s editorial board, but, oddly, there’s no similar posting in the papers he oversees. Perhaps that will change if and when the KJ and Sentinel finally hire somebody to write editorials (the post has been vacant since Naomi Schalit was forced out in early August), and stop reprinting opinion pieces from out-of-state papers to fill up the space.
Down East downs and an up: To wrap up our survey of circulation figures for Maine publications, it seems only fair to take a look at Down East, the magazine that owns this Web site.
According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Down East has gone through a couple of years of declines in its paid circulation, but that appears to have come to an end this year. The ABC figures show the magazine had average monthly sales of 103,118 for the six months ending June 30, 2006. That dropped about 2 percent over the next year to 101,147. The June 30, 2008 numbers were also down by nearly 3.5 percent to 97,653. Audited figures for 2009 aren’t yet available, but publisher John Viehman provided the number submitted to the bureau for paid circulation. It shows a slight rebound to 98,242, up almost 1 percent.
No other Maine-based magazine is audited by ABC, so comparable figures from competitors aren’t available. Paid circulations for national magazines have declined in recent years, fueled largely by a decline at the newsstand which has seen three-quarters of the ABC-audited magazines losing single-copy sales (they lost 15 percent of newsstand sales during the second half of last year alone). By comparison Yankee, which is produced across the Piscataqua but covers Maine, has seen its total copies sold decline by 160,977 — 31 percent — since 2006.
Down East’s filings with the U.S. Postal Service cover the average paid circulation from August to August and are subject to different rules than ABC as to what constitutes copies sold (the USPS is picky about copies that get mailed, but not so much about those that don’t). Those numbers show Down East’s paid circulation in 2006 was 102,516, dropping to 93,181 by 2009, a decline of about 9 percent over four years. As with the ABC figures, it’s difficult to compare these numbers to any other Maine publications because these numbers are for actual copies sold, whereas most of the other magazines that compete with Down East give away a sizeable amount of their circulation.
(Joshua F. Moore, Down East’s deputy editor, contributed reporting for this item.)
Not burned out: As of Nov. 9, Lincoln News publisher Kevin Tenggren told the Bangor Daily News the chances the weekly paper will publish this week are about 75 percent.
A fire of still-undetermined origin destroyed the News’ office, printing press, and other equipment last week, but Tenggren and his staff moved into a vacant office next door and set to work using donated equipment. He said the major problem so far has been a lack of Internet access. The News’ small office in Millinocket also continues to function.
The paper has a circulation of about 6,300 and covers the Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes region.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.