Down East 2013 ©
The deal is about done: Several sources indicate the sale of the Blethen Maine Newspapers to Pennsylvania publisher Richard Connor and his partners will close early next week. Once that happens, Connor plans to move quickly to sell the prime real estate occupied by the Portland Press Herald on Congress Street and the company’s old printing plant and parking lot across the street.
According to an industry insider, a buyer has already been lined up, and the buildings and lot will be sold almost immediately after the deal for the company closes. Press Herald staff will then have about two months to pack up and move to the company’s printing plant and distribution center in South Portland.
Also said to be coming next week: union layoffs. Connor has said in published reports that 100 people will lose their jobs. Other sources put the figure at closer to 125, although it’s not clear if that includes the nearly two dozen managers who were told this week they won’t be retained.
The media is half right: From the Bangor Daily News,  June 6, 2009:
“The national unemployment rate is at 9.4 percent – the highest in 25 years – but foreign seasonal workers are still flocking to Maine’s hotels and restaurants for the summer.
“’Even in this economy, there’s not a lot of [local] people who want to clean hotel rooms,’ said Eben Salvatore, director of operations for Bar Harbor’s Ocean Properties.”
From the Portland Press Herald , June 11, 2009:
“Maine’s tourism industry appears to be relying less on foreign workers this year because the recession has left more Americans looking for work …. ‘Most of my members have been able to fill their needs with local help this year, with people looking for work,’ said Vaughn Stinson, chief executive officer of the Maine Tourism Association.”
The Bangor Daily News got it all wrong: Here’s one I missed, but it didn’t escape the piercing gaze of blogger Melanie Brooks.
On March 10, the Bangor Daily News published a story on the visit of NASA astronaut Pam Melrose  to Aroostook County to speak to students at various schools and the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
The article was credited to Rachel Rice, who’s described in the tagline as being an employee of the university. It also says, “She wrote this story exclusively for the Bangor Daily News.”
As Brooks points out in her posting, the real situation is a little more complicated. Rice is actually UMPI’s coordinator of media relations, that is, its chief public relations person. Since, as the story notes, the astronaut’s trip was sponsored by the university, Rice’s exclusive story was actually more like an exclusive press release.
I know newspapers are short staffed these days, but if the story was worth covering (and reasonable questions could be raised about its news value), send a journalist, not a flack.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com .