York County News: Not All Turkeys and Ribbon Cuttings
Missing the MERC mess: The Portland Press Herald has a new reporter covering northern York County. Well, covering might be too strong a word. Let’s go with assigned to northern York County.
Emma Bouthillette, a Biddeford native and 2009 graduate of the University of New England, has taken over the beat after a year of working as an obituary-writing news assistant at the paper. To date, she’s turned out a gushy story about the conversion of an old mill into a housing project, neglecting to mention one of the developers was an investor and board member at her paper’s parent company.
She’s also reported on a donation of turkeys to a local food pantry, recreational activities at a wildlife sanctuary, and the release of a rehabilitated harbor seal, all stuff that looks distressingly similar to the features Bouthillette used to produce for the Press Herald’s fluffy Close to Home section.
To be fair, Bouthillette is a rookie, and these are the kinds of stories rookies do. The blame for the lack of hard news coming out of Biddeford, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach shouldn’t fall on her, but on her editors.
They should know that York County isn’t some backwater. It’s second only to Cumberland County as an economic engine for the state. It’s a prime tourist destination and the site of numerous attempts to convert the economy from the old manufacturing base to alternatives. Its politics are as contentious as any in Maine, and its environmental issues are as complex. It’s a beat that requires a reporter with plenty of experience, good instincts, and an excellent institutional memory.
Or at least one that can read the local papers to discover there’s some real news about the MERC incinerator in Biddeford.
(Disclosure: That link to the MERC story goes to an article that appeared in the Sun Chronicle, a newspaper that carries my weekly political column.)
New airwaves: According to North East Radio Watch, WERU (88.9 FM), the community station in Blue Hill, will soon be back on the air in the Bangor market. WERU has been granted a construction permit for a new frequency at 99.9 FM to replace its old Bangor-area signal at 102.9. The latter was forced off the air when the Stephen King-owned WZON (103.1 FM) in Dover-Foxcroft increased power.
Toilet tissue: Just wondering: Does any daily newspaper in the country use a flimsier grade of newsprint than the Bangor Daily News?
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.