Maine Media Miss a Key Wind Power Connection
Ill wind: State Rep. Stacey Fitts’ legislative profile says he’s a “self-employed consultant.” Maybe that’s why so many news stories about developing wind power off the Maine coast quote the Pittsfield Republican without mentioning that he has a conflict of interest. As Fitts notes in online professional profiles, he actually works as a field services specialist for Kleinschmidt Associates, a company with more than a passing interest in offshore wind projects.
Opponents of wind power have frequently pointed out this connection, usually with regard to Fitts’ membership on the state’s Ocean Energy Task Force, but reporters and editors don’t seem to notice. On Dec. 14, Maine Public Radio included an interview with Fitts in a piece on offshore wind, as did the Bangor Daily News on Dec. 15.
Neither article mentioned Fitts’ employer or how that might affect his views.
Makes me wonder what else they’re missing.
Statistical spin: On Dec. 9, the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative think tank, released a report showing a sharp increase in state spending on welfare since 2002. Most of the Maine media covered that event by running an Associated Press story by Glenn Adams. In the print version (which doesn’t seem to be posted online), Adams reported on the center’s findings, but made only a half-hearted effort to get the other side, relying on a quote from House Minority Leader Emily Cain, an Orono Democrat, that said, “I love reports that talk about numbers. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.”
On Dec. 14, the Maine Center for Economic Policy, a liberal think tank, released its critique of the report, disputing many of its findings. Maine Public Radio did a follow-up story, but the AP didn’t bother, which meant neither did any other news outlet. So, for most Maine news consumers, the conservative view was the only one they learned about.
That seems fair and balanced?
Gone south: Kopenton LLC, a newspaper and magazine publisher in Greenville, appears to have severe financial problems. According to a story in the Dec. 14 Bangor Daily News, the company has suspended publication of Up North, its glossy outdoor magazine, and sold the weekly Moosehead Messenger to Hometown Newspapers, publishers of the Piscataquis Times, Somerset Times and Sebasticook Valley Weekly.
Feeling Irregular: If there’s one consistent thing about the Original Irregular, a weekly newspaper published in Kingfield, it’s that every issue contains at least one news release or photo submitted by Republican state Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton. But Saviello must have been too busy to send anything in for the Dec. 8 edition, because for the first time in recent memory, there was no mention of him in the Irregular’s pages.
Fortunately for those who prefer predictability to actual journalistic judgment, the situation returned to normal with the Dec. 15 issue, which featured two photos of Saviello doing nothing particularly newsworthy.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.