Down East 2013 ©
The gloves are off for Alan Baker, publisher of the Ellsworth American and the Mount Desert Islander. Baker is jabbing at free content and the death of newspapers by separating the websites associated with his signature, multi-award-winning newspapers from a new online freebie called “Fenceviewer.” Cream from the fat, as it goes. With the motto, “It’s OK to peek,” we’d like to think Baker's taking a jab at those who don't want to pay for news, or those who think what they get for free should also somehow also support a business model. Fenceviewer.com is named after a column written by the Ellsworth American’s former publisher and editor, James Russell Wiggins. Wiggins held the municipal post of fence viewer in Brooklin, where such residents once settled property disputes of their neighbors. Of Baker's push to show the value of news, Mount Desert Islander editor Earl Brechlin says, “You wouldn't open a shoe store and give the shoes away for free and wonder why you’re not making any money.” No truer words. Coming from Brechlin and Baker, who have more National Newspaper of the Year awards under their arms than any other New England publishing duo, it's worth taking notice. Viva the Fourth Estate!