Editorial Upgrade at MaineToday Media
The other shoe drops: Almost overlooked in the announcement on Feb. 17 that Portland Press Herald managing editor Cliff Schechtman has been promoted to executive editor of the MaineToday Media newspapers was the news that one of the last remaining vestiges of the era of deposed CEO Richard Connor has been removed.
Scott Wasser is leaving the company. According to the news story in the MTM papers (in addition to the Press Herald, they include the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel), his decision to depart was “by mutual consent.” What’s not in the story is that it was accompanied by a hearty sigh of relief from the direction of the newsroom.
Wasser wasn’t popular with reporters and other editors, who quietly complained that he knew and cared little about Maine and was more concerned with internal company politics than news coverage. While Schechtman brings a certain amount of baggage with him to his new job, that’s minor compared to Wasser’s many ethical issues and poor judgment in editorial matters.
There’s no reason to get carried away with optimism about MaineToday’s future. The company still faces huge obstacles in terms of finances and credibility, due to Connor’s poor management. But this change has to be seen as a positive step.
Flood unleashed: Five years and three days ago, David Flood sold his string of six weekly newspapers in York County to Sample Media, owner of the Journal Tribune in Biddeford and the Times Record in Brunswick. Three days ago, his non-compete agreement with Sample expired, and Flood wasted no time returning to the publishing business. Current Publishing CEO Lee Hews announced that Flood was joining her company and would be operating all three of its York County weeklies, the Sun Chronicle in Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach; the Reporter in Waterboro, Alfred, Lyman, Newfield, Limerick and Shapleigh; and the Observer in Sanford.
Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in those papers, as well as other Current publications.
Hews said Flood will serve as president of York County Publishing, a new subsidiary of Current. She said he was investing money in the company “that can be converted to equity over time.”
Flood is also resigning next week from his position on the Biddeford City Council to avoid future conflicts of interest.
Hews said Flood’s arrival is significant. “For the first time in I don’t know how many years, we’re able to add resources, rather than cut resources,” she said.
The papers, currently run out of Current’s office in Westbrook, will soon open an office in Biddeford in a building Flood owns. The company will add two new reporters, as well as a sales person and graphics artist.
Flood described himself as “more of an editorial-side publisher,” promising more community news and more consistency in the three papers as they gear up to compete with his old publications.
Al Diamon can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.