Sun Journal Fills State House Reporting Slot
The Lewiston Sun Journal ended its drought of State House coverage by hiring Steve Mistler to fill the government and politics beat. The Lewiston paper had been without a reporter in Augusta since July, when Rebekah Metzler jumped to the rival Kennebec Journal.
Mistler has spent the past six years at the Forecaster, a weekly paper owned by the Sun Journal’s parent company. His ongoing coverage of the machinations involving Oxford Aviation and its questionable contracts with government entities has produced some first-rate work, with many of his stories being reprinted in the Sun Journal (although the rest of the state’s news media have paid no attention).
Mistler kicked off his stint at the Lewiston paper in impressive fashion with a well-crafted and thoughtful examination of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, the increasingly influential conservative think tank. The piece featured lots of fresh information (unlike Metzler’s anemic profiles of senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in the MaineToday Media papers). He also offered plenty of insight into who’s calling the shots at the center, what the group plans in the future and its chances of success.
Of course, being the copy-editing-challenged Sun Journal, the paper managed to screw up Mistler’s first big piece by running it in print without a byline. It had to be embarrassing to all concerned to put out what appeared to be an anonymous article that dealt with charges the MHPC lacks transparency.
Nevertheless, Mistler’s arrival is a definite upgrade for the Sun Journal. If he can build on this start, he’s capable of shrinking the void in Maine political coverage to manageable proportions.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org