Stuff I Like In Maine Media – And One Thing I Don’t
Move over, WikiLeaks: I’ve heard plenty of conservatives make disparaging remarks about the Web site Dirigo Blue because of its left-wing slant and relentless promotion of liberal causes. What those critics suffering from ideological overload often overlook is that DB and its editor Gerald Weinand have become solid sources of news the rest of the media, including right-wing Web sites, has been missing.
Weinand’s emergence as a significant disseminator of information didn’t begin with his Jan. 27 scoop in which he published a leaked memo from Dan Demeritt, spokesman for Republican Gov. Paul LePage, that appeared to call for using state workers to advance GOP political goals. For some time (particularly since the swift decline of Pine Tree Politics), Dirigo Blue has also been providing a steady diet of breaking political news. That includes lists and commentary on bills submitted in the current session of the Legislature, (something the mainstream media bother with only sporadically). The site is also an excellent source of complete statements from key political players, video, and news roundups. I usually learn something new each time I visit.
Dirigo Blue isn’t perfect. Much of the commentary Weinand posts is predictable propaganda, humorless rants, or dull lectures on subjects of tangential interest to Maine. But those faults can be overlooked, because this site is clearly a product of passion, dedication and hard work, often resulting in significant payoffs for Maine news junkies and, sometimes, even for normal people.
If you’re not checking it out regularly, you’re missing things you’d probably want to know.
Mis-Alliance: The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting had been quiet of late, but the non-profit, investigative-journalism outlet returned with a vengeance on Jan. 30 with a first-rate piece by senior reporter Naomi Schalit on a questionable multi-million-dollar government grant to the Maine Green Energy Alliance.
Schalit does a fine job of unraveling the complex web of political connections surrounding the deal, with strands sticking to everyone from former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci to the Efficiency Maine program to the defunct deal to move much of the MERC incinerator operation out of Biddeford. If this story doesn’t inspire follow-up from other news outlets and government oversight groups, it’ll be a crime.
Powerful Parkhurst: I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Emily Parkhurst, a reporter for the Forecaster weeklies, to post a blog entry on being drugged and raped in Portland’s Old Port five years ago.
But thanks to Parkhurst’s stunning – but understated – writing, I can come close.
Unlike all too many authors of pieces on personal tragedies, Parkhurst’s stark and matter-of-fact recounting of her ordeal avoids wallowing in self-pity or dragging her audience along on a group therapy session. She never forgets that good journalists write for their readers first and foremost. While her piece may provide some comfort to other rape survivors, it also ought to touch any thinking, feeling human being with its keen insight and common-sense advice.
This piece deserved wider distribution, and I’m glad to see the Lewiston Sun Journal put it in print on Jan. 30.
And something I’m not too crazy about: The MaineToday Media newspapers announced on Jan. 30 that the company, which owns the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, has re-opened its Washington bureau and hired Jonathan Riskind as its D.C. reporter. Riskind had previously worked as Washington bureau chief for the Columbus Dispatch.
Those wondering why Riskind would leave a much larger paper to cover the delegation of a small state with which he has little familiarity should be aware that his deal with MaineToday isn’t exclusive. Riskind will also be reporting for the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
The Pennsylvania paper and the Maine publications are all operated by the same person: CEO/editor/publisher Richard Connor.
It remains to be seen how much time and effort Riskind will be devoting to Maine officials and issues, as opposed to those of the much larger Keystone State. And we’ll have to wait to find out if having half (or less) of a reporter in Washington is better than none at all.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.