Trouble at the Portland Phoenix’s Parent Company
CFO O-U-T: According to the May 7 Boston Herald, Phoenix Media/Communications Group has dismissed ten employees, including its chief financial officer, Richard Gallagher, who was also the chief operating officer of the company.
Phoenix Media is the parent company of the Portland Phoenix, as well as similar weeklies in Boston and Providence and two radio stations, including one based in southern New Hampshire (92.1 FM) that reaches parts of Maine.
(Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in the Portland Phoenix.)
In addition to its CFO, Phoenix Media pushed out its corporate controller and his assistant, as well as several sales people. According to the Herald, until a new financial officer can be hired, Phoenix Media president Bradley Mindich will take over some of the duties of the CFO, while others will go to a consultant.
Executive editor Peter Kadzis said the changes are not an indication the company is in trouble, but rather a shift intended to deal with an altered landscape in the industry.
“The Phoenix has a very clear strategy for confronting new media realities,” Kadzis said. “and that’s to sell advertisers across all our platforms.”
The shakeup in Boston is unlikely to affect the Portland weekly, according to Jeff Inglis, its editor. “The future of the Portland Phoenix is as strong as it’s ever been,” Inglis said.
Editor O-U-T: David Tyler has resigned as editor of Working Waterfront, the Island Institute’s monthly newspaper. According to a memo sent to staff and contributors last week, Tyler will be leaving the job on August 1 and moving to New Hampshire, where his wife, a physician, has received a fellowship.
(Another disclosure: Tyler was my editor at Casco Bay Weekly a decade or so ago.)
Tyler’s replacement will be Gillian Garratt-Reed, the institute’s marine programs officer since 2008. According to the memo, Garratt-Reed is a Bowdoin College graduate who’s worked at Outward Bound and in “experiential education.”
I hope that has something to do with journalism.
Tyler also served at the organization’s publications director. Bridget Leavitt, the institute’s design coordinator, will take over that job.
Candidates O-U-T: The Lewiston Sun Journal did less than the bare minimum in covering last weekend’s Republican state convention in Portland. The paper produced just one sidebar story on the event, staff writer Rebekah Metzler’s May 8 piece on congressional candidate Jason Levesque’s speech.
Levesque is from Auburn, part of the Sun Journal’s primary circulation area, which may have had something to do with the decision to give him more ink than anyone else.
For the rest of the convention news, the Lewiston paper relied on the Associated Press and a competitor’s coverage. Somehow, an editor managed to make a mockery of even that feeble effort.
The Sun Journal chopped the last few paragraphs off a May 9 story by Susan Cover of MaineToday Media on the convention speeches by the GOP gubernatorial candidates, thereby eliminating all mention of two contenders, Bill Beardsley and Bruce Poliquin.
It also ignored the convention uprising by Tea Partiers and Ron Paul supporters that resulted in a complete rewrite of the state party platform.
The state Democratic Party’s convention is scheduled for May 21-22 in Lewiston. Will the Sun Journal ignore it, as well, even though it’s taking place on its home ground? Or will it open itself up to charges of bias by providing the Democrats the detailed coverage it denied the GOP?
Analysis I-N: The Lewiston paper did do something right on May 9, when it devoted its editorial space to a careful examination of Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Abbott’s latest TV ad. (Unfortunately, this piece doesn’t seem to be posted on the paper’s unreliable Web site.)
This kind of thoughtful dissection of the claims made in candidate advertising used to be a staple of political coverage in The Portland Press Herald and, occasionally, in the Bangor Daily News. But staff reductions and editorial indifference seem to have eliminated those features in the larger papers. The Sun Journal is to be commended for reviving this useful tradition.
Now, keep it up.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org