Down East 2013 ©
Fun with numbers: I recently repeated what appears to be a falsehood. In a posting earlier this week on the impact the possible demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer might have on the parent company of the Blethen Maine Newspapers,  I wrote that neither the P-I not the Blethen’s Seattle Times had turned a profit in this decade. I should have noted that my source for that information was a story printed in the Times.
According to Bill Richards of Seattle Crosscut, the long profitless streak for the Times might only be true on paper. Richards tells Portland blogger T. Cushing Munjoy in a Jan. 14 comment that the red ink at the Times may be an accounting ploy in which losses at the Maine papers are mixed into the numbers for the Seattle paper. 
Fun with Web sites: The pseudonymous Munjoy has also been conducting a campaign against the general lameness of the blogs on the Portland Press Herald’s Web site,  many of which have not been updated for months, while others have comment sections riddled with spam. He has links to many of the worst offenses.
More fun with Web sites: The nearly defunct PolitickerME site has a strange way of filling its home page.  It just rips off whatever Gerald Weinand posts on his liberal political site Turn Maine Blue. 
On Jan. 14, Weinand took a measure of revenge. He posted an item on his site, sarcastically thanking Politicker for “paying him for the content he provides to them,” adding “Nothing like shame to get something done.”
Politicker promptly picked it up – it must be some automatic system – and posted it at the top of its site.
In an e-mail to me, Weinand said he’s complained to Politicker about the practice, but had no response. Nor has the pilfering of his material led new readers to his site. “I haven't noticed any real spike in our pitiful numbers,” Weinand wrote.
If Weinand’s tactic doesn’t change anything, it probably indicates that even Politicker’s owners don’t read it.
Fun with slots: If you’ve ever wondered what important facts were being left out of a news story, check out the blog of public-relations whiz Dennis Bailey, in which he exposes a huge – and inexplicable – omission in a Press Herald story on an apartment manager charged with ripping off the building’s owner of more than a quarter-million dollars. 
The Jan. 8 article by staff writer Trevor Maxwell makes no mention of what became of the stolen cash – even though Maxwell admitted to Bailey (who runs an anti-gambling group) he was aware the money had been lost at Hollywood Slots in Bangor. 
“I knew about the gambling aspect,” Maxwell wrote in an e-mail to Bailey said, “but it’s not on the record yet. It will come out and when it does I’ll write about it.”
It came out, alright, but not the way Maxwell apparently intended. The gambling connection was posted in a comment posted on the Press Herald Web site just below Maxwell’s story.
Scooped by a reader.
Fun with travel expenses: Neither the Press Herald nor the Bangor Daily News can afford to keep a fulltime reporter at the State House, but both papers are sending staffers to Washington, D.C. to tell us all about any local angles that crop up during the presidential inauguration. Also, they’ll be there just in case no national news organizations show up.
The Portland paper will cover the costs for four people, including columnist Bill Nemitz, political reporter Dieter Bradbury, photographer Gregory Rec and “multimedia reporter” Justin Ellis. Bangor has a more modest contingent, consisting of reporter Abigail Curtis and a Washington-based correspondent, Andrew FitzGerald.
Any predictions on how much actual Maine news any of them will uncover? I’ll put my chips on “none.”
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.