Veterans Departing Maine Newspapers
MaineToday Media State House reporter Rebekah Metzler circulated an email this week announcing her resignation.
“I'm writing to let you know I am leaving the MTM State House bureau for a job in Washington, D.C. to help cover politics for U.S. News and World Report,” Metzler wrote. “My last day is Friday.”
During her tenure at the Capitol, Metzler was personally attacked by Republican Governor Paul LePage for allegedly biased coverage, although there was little evidence to support that charge.
A source said MaineToday, which is currently offering employees buy-outs to reduce expenses, doesn’t plan to replace Metzler, but it’s not clear if another reporter will be reassigned to her old beat or if the chain of three dailies (Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel) will settle for a two-person staff to cover state government.
Metzler’s isn’t the only byline that will be missing from Maine newspapers in the near future. The Bangor Daily News is also offering buy-outs, and reliable sources say several veterans have accepted the offer. While the results won’t be official until Oct. 21, it appears at least thirty people have applied for the deal. Among those planning to call it quits are Joni Averill, the “good news” columnist; Diana Bowley, a fixture covering central Maine; Washington County reporter Sharon Kiley Mack; outdoors editor Jeff Strout and much of the library staff.
As one journalism graybeard put it in an email, “Hard to find too many people over 55 left in the office.”
Even with the strong response to the buy-out offer, there may still be layoffs at the Bangor paper, because management is planning to cut payroll by a significant amount, and the voluntary departures may not amount to enough to meet that goal.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.