Down East 2013 ©
If politics doesn’t work out: As a reporter, Laurie Dobson makes a great candidate. The ex-independent U.S. Senate hopeful has twice in recent weeks made questionable forays into journalism, apparently as unconcerned with the ethical implications of her activities as she was with gathering enough signatures to get on the fall ballot.
In June, Dobson talked her way into a meeting of the Kennebunk Kennebunkport Wells Water District board of trustees, after the room was already filled to capacity, by claiming at various times to be a reporter for a local weekly and a non-local radio station. 
She was neither.
Now, she’s apparently decided to become a stealth interviewer. While vacationing on North Haven, Dobson recently requested a meeting with Democratic congressional candidate Chellie Pingree. According to the Pingree campaign, Dobson said she wanted to discuss issues. No mention was made of conducting an interview for publication. Pingree agreed to meet Dobson and her husband on the deck of a local deli. Dobson then wrote a detailed account of the conversation for the op-ed page of the Bollard, an online news site based in Portland. 
The piece made Pingree look like an arrogant jerk. If that’s Dobson’s opinion, I have no problem with it. What does bother me is the details included. There are long quotations from the candidate, Dobson and her husband. But, according to Pingree’s campaign spokesman, Dobson didn’t have a tape recorder and didn’t take notes.
Maybe she has a photographic memory, although considering her inability to recall that she isn’t a reporter, I tend to doubt it.
In general, real journalists don’t pretend to be having casual conversations when they’re really conducting interviews. In general, real journalists take notes, use a recorder or both. There are exceptions. When politicians make outrageous statements about matters of importance, whether in public or private, voters have a right to know about them.
That doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Dobson has proved herself to be an unreliable source (she claims she’s still a Senate candidate, even though she’s been disqualified), with more axes to grind than Plum Creek Timber Co. Her version of this event has almost no credibility.
The Bollard erred in publishing this smear.
(Full disclosure: Bollard editor and publisher Chris Busby is a friend and former editor of mine at Casco Bay Weekly.)
If column writing doesn’t work out: I like Lewiston Sun Journal staff writer Mark LaFlamme’s snarky column in the “b” section of the Sunday paper . (It’s about the only thing in “b” I do like.) He’s sharp and funny.
But sometimes, when LaFlamme is writing straight news stories, his columnist persona gets in the way. Case in point: the Aug. 18 article he wrote on the Auburn police trying out a Segway scooter to improve efficiency and save energy.
In this piece we learn that the cops are “one step closer to the reality of Robocop.” We’re told the Segway is “supremely mobile.”  We’re informed the test to date has “all been geeky goodness.”
Colorful. But not informative.
How much does a Segway cost? LaFlamme doesn’t tell us. He does say, “The two-wheeled upright gizmos run on battery power so there is no need for fuel.” Battery power isn’t fuel? He gives no indication as to how expensive it is to recharge the battery. And he notes that the scooter has been used in place of bike patrols on occasion. How does that save energy or money?
Maybe LaFlamme was trying to do a positive piece as a favor for his police pals (he normally covers the cop beat). Maybe he wasn’t sure whether he was writing a column or a news story. Maybe an editor should have spiked this one to save ink and embarrassment.
If a radio career doesn’t work out: NorthEast Radio Watch has a report out today on big staff cuts at Blueberry Broadcasting, the former Clear Channel radio stations  in Maine.
According to the posting, at least 12 people lost their jobs. In May, Blueberry bought the 17 stations, including WTOS, WVOM, WABK, WCME, WRKD, WKCG, WQSS, WGUY and WWBX, for the bargain price of $11 million.
Other news from the same source: Former radio pirate Allan Weiner may have gone legit. The guy who once sailed a ship equipped with an outlaw broadcasting setup off the coast of New York is reportedly operating WBCQ-FM at 94.7 in Monticello, although it’s unclear if he’s just testing the frequency or has been fully licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.
Many fans of talk radio station WLOB in Portland may soon lose that signal. Rumor has it that J.J. Jeffrey’s Atlantic Coast Radio will move the format to less powerful 95.5 in Topsham, opening up WLOB’s current 96.3 frequency for the sports format of WJJB.
Also rumored to be undergoing a big change at Atlantic Coast: WRED in Saco (95.9 FM), which is said to be dumping its hip hop and dance music for the sports programming of WEEI in Boston.
If being experienced doesn’t work out: Gerald, the operator of the liberal “Turn Maine Blue” Web site has some interesting thoughts on the Blethen Maine Newspaper’s recent purging of many of its veteran reporters. 
He laments the loss of institutional memory at the papers and the consequences for the public. “Is Blethen firing the reporters that husband such knowledge, so that they can interrupt the transfer of history, and thus deny their readers context?” he asks.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.