New Face, New Place, New Cash
By Al Diamon
Created Jan 29 2008 - 3:27pm
The Lewiston Sun Journal has finally filled its opening for a State House reporter. Rebekah Metzler started work on Jan. 28, filling a void that's existed since mid-November, when Jessica Alaimo departed the newspaper after just a few months on the job to join the Web site PolitickerME.com.
According to Sun Journal editor Rex Rhoades, Metzler is from Hancock, Me., graduated from Bowdoin College and spent the last year in Washington, D.C., covering Maine stories for the Boston University News Service, while earning a master's degree in journalism. Her work with the news service often showed up in the Bangor Daily News. She's also been a stringer for the Gannett News Service and other papers.
Rhoades said the delay in filling the job wasn't intentional, but did have to do with finances. Two earlier candidates were offered the position, but wouldn't accept the Sun Journal's salary offer.
The humble Farmer is ranting once again. According to the Portland Press Herald, Robert Skoglund, the capitalization-challenged agriculturist, is now producing his weekly program of old jazz and current commentary on DVD and distributing it to public and community television stations throughout Maine. At least three are broadcasting it, and Skoglund told supporters in an e-mail that 25 more are planning to do so.
Skoglund was bounced from Maine Public Radio in June, after 28 years on the air, for refusing to comply with a directive to avoid discussing controversial topics on the air. That effectively banned what he called his "rants" on a wide range of topics, including local and national politics. Skoglund initially protested by refusing to say anything, except to introduce the recordings he played. His silence failed to influence the decision makers at the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, and he was dumped from the schedule.
His new show is said to be pretty much like his old one, except there's video of Skoglund in his home studio and still photos of Maine scenes. More visual stimulation is said to be coming in future episodes.
Sample News Group, which owns the Journal Tribune newspaper in Biddeford and six southern Maine weeklies, is soon to be richer through the sale of $7 million in tax-exempt bonds. Sample is buying the Times Record in Brunswick and will use the money to finance the purchase of that paper's publishing facility.
The bonds will be tax-exempt because they're issued by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), a state development agency that approved Sample's application for the financing on Jan. 17. Because buyers won't have to pay income taxes on their earnings from the notes, the bonds can be sold at a lower interest rate than similar money-raising schemes.
Sample's score comes over the objections of the Blethen Maine Newspapers, owners of the Coastal Journal, a weekly newspaper that competes with the Times Record, as well as the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville. Blethen officials argued earlier this year that approving cheap financing for Sample would give the company an unfair advantage. Blethen also owns a printing facility in Augusta that bids on many of the same jobs as the Times Record.
The FAME board rejected Blethen's concerns, saying the deal would not pose a "substantial detriment" to competition.
Filed January 28, 2008
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.