MaineToday Media’s Wasser Strikes Again
Renovation rant: As MaineToday Media’s executive editor and a member of its editorial board, Scott Wasser has plenty of opportunities to express his opinion. He can set the tone and direction of editorials. He can write op-ed pieces. He’s got his own weekly car column that he sometimes turns into nothing short of an advertising vehicle for local dealers.
That doesn’t seem to be enough.
On May 1, Wasser showed up at the top of the front page of the sports section in the Maine Sunday Telegram with a column on why the Cumberland County Civic Center should be renovated. The renovation proposal, which must be approved by county voters, is controversial, because there’s no guarantee it will result in increased revenue for the aging facility and because it may cost county taxpayers significant money. But Wasser had nothing to say about that.
He just wants a nicer place to watch hockey games. Better concession stands. More restrooms. An improved lobby. And upgraded locker rooms and benches. His main argument for all this public spending is that it will fulfill a longstanding goal of Brian Petrovek, the CEO of the Portland Pirates minor-league hockey team.
Wasser has as much right to his opinion as the next person, but, given his position, he probably should have exercised a little restraint when it came to expressing it. If his piece had run on the editorial page, it would have been far more acceptable than intruding on sports coverage with what was essentially a political argument. That way there’d be no chance some readers might confuse his personal views with news coverage.
Or better yet, he could have stuck with writing publicity pieces for his pals in the car business, and left coverage of complex county issues to actual journalists.
Out of the Soup: Ron Belyea, the COO of the Village Soup newspapers (Herald Gazette in Rockland-Camden, Republican Journal in Belfast, Capital Weekly in Augusta and Bar Harbor Times) since 2003, has resigned. Belyea made the announcement on April 29, but didn’t say why he was leaving or what his plans were. Village Soup CEO Richard Anderson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
(Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in the Village Soup papers.)
Riskind watch: MaineToday Media Washington bureau chief Jonathan “National Treasure” Riskind – not to mention the rest of the state’s news operations – continues to do a half-hearted job of covering the selection of a new federal judge for Maine.
Riskind has now written two stories about the process – the latest ran on May 1 – without bothering to inform his readers of a single new piece of information about Nancy Torresen, the nominee for the position. All the public knows about Torresen from his reporting is that she’s been an assistant U.S. attorney.
Political affiliation? Important cases she’s handled? Educational background? Job history?
How hard would it be to write a real story about this person, before she’s confirmed by the U.S. Senate to a lifetime appointment?
Empty glass: I like stories about beer almost as much as I like drinking it, but the May 1 pieces by Maine Sunday Telegram staff writer J. Hemmerdinger on the Shipyard Brewery in Portland would have been a lot more interesting if they’d contained some new information, instead of repeating what Hemmerdinger had already reported in an April 22 article.
If it’s from the big city, it must be better: The tragic story of Krista Dittmeyer’s death has been big news in Maine for over a week, ever since her car was discovered in a New Hampshire parking lot with the engine running and her baby asleep inside. Her body was later discovered in a nearby pond.
There was a powerful piece to be done on the impact these events had on Dittmeyer’s hometown of Bridgton. And the newspaper you might expect to have the inside track on doing that reporting would be the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Not only does the Sun Journal have a bureau in Oxford County, right next door to Bridgton, but its main newsroom in Lewiston is just a short drive away. And the Sun Journal’s parent company owns the local weekly paper.
So can anyone explain to me why the coverage in the May 1 paper consisted of a story from the Boston Herald?
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.