Ironic icon: On May 26, the Blethen Maine Newspapers-owned Maine Sunday Telegram ran an editorial cartoon by Steve Meyers criticizing the Maine Legislature for failing to pass ethics rules dealing with conflicts of interest. Directly below Meyers' drawing was a column by editorial page editor John Porter that ignored the Telegram's own conflict. Porter's piece, urging Plum Creek Timber Co. to accept cutbacks in its plan to build a huge housing and resort development near Moosehead Lake makes no mention of Rick Holley, Plum Creeks' president and CEO, who serves on the boards of two of the newspaper's parent companies. While this information has been published by Blethen papers in the past, it's gone missing lately. I doubt the kind of ethics Meyers is advocating for legislators is supposed to be a sometimes thing. Journalism ethics shouldn't be, either.
(For some reason, I couldn't find Meyers' cartoon or Porter's column posted on the Telegram's Web site on May 26. Maybe somebody was embarrassed by the problem.)
Inconsistent income: How much does Maine make from tourists? The state's media has the answer. It's just not a consistent answer. The May 25 Maine Sunday Telegram says that in 2006 (the most recent year for which complete statistics are available), tourists spent $10.06 billion here and paid $429 million in taxes, citing the Maine Office of Tourism as its source.
The May 25 Lewiston Sun Journal got figures from the same place, but claims the tax bill was $409 million
, which appears to be a typo. The March 28 Portland Press Herald puts 2006 spending at $6.7 billion and the tax receipts at $531 million. The latter could be the 2004 figure. The former could be, well … I've got no idea. In 2004, total tourism sales were $13.6 billion, according to several published, although not necessarily correct, accounts. Except maybe they weren't. Back in January, the Press Herald reported the tourism office had come up with a new way to calculate the numbers, leaving out spending by natives. So, the correct 2004 figure for total spending was $8.9 billion and the tax dollars amounted to $376 million. Or something like that.
Inconclusive investigation: Gary Remal, veteran reporter at the Kennebec Journal, is no longer with the paper. A Web search indicates Remal's last story ran on May 12. And that's about all I know for sure. KJ editor Eric Conrad did not return a call seeking comment on Remal's status, and Remal, himself, could not be reached. A semi-reliable source says Remal was offered a "buy-out" that includes a condition that he not discuss his departure with the news media. He'd been at the KJ for about 25 years and won several awards for his coverage of the state's mental health services or lack thereof. He's said to be looking for work.
Incorrect intimations: The usually reliable Northeast Radio Watch Web site
hinted last week that there was some connection between recent layoffs at Gannett-owned WCSH-TV in Portland and the departure of news director Mike Curry. Not true. While Channel 6 will eliminate 6 and 1/2 positions, most of them master control operators, by early next year, as part of a company-wide consolidation of those services into two centralized locations that will serve all 23 of Gannett's stations, Curry's resignation is unrelated. He said he's been planning to retire from his job - he's also news director of WLBZ in Bangor - for about two years in order to move to Florida and play golf. His last day is June 6. Curry, who started at the station as a photojournalist in 1981, has headed the top-rated news department at WCSH since 1994. He added similar duties at WLBZ in 2000. WCSH President Steve Thaxton said he received a dozen applications for Curry's job before it was even advertised. Thaxton said managing editor Maureen O'Brien will serve as acting news director until Curry's replacement is chosen.
Impossible to incorporate an I-intro: Kudos to the Times Record in Brunswick for breaking the story of Comcast's decision to sell its cable TV systems in Maine and several other states
. The paper published the scoop that the cable giant was dumping 46 small systems with nearly half a million subscribers on May 20. The TR beat not only its local competition with the story, but the national press. As for who'll take over the cable franchises in the 11 Maine communities in the Bath-Brunswick area served by Comcast, the most likely suspect is Time Warner, which already controls what we can and can't watch in most of Maine.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com