Down East 2013 ©
Downward bound: The Audit Bureau of Circulation has released preliminary figures for newspaper circulation for the six months ending March 31, 2009.
Of those Maine dailies contributing their numbers, all showed significant losses of purchasers of their print editions.
The Portland Press Herald reported average daily sales of 59,487 copies, which is 7.76 percent lower than in 2008. The Maine Sunday Telegram weekly sales dropped to 90,523, off by nearly 8,600 copies a week or 8.67 percent from last year.
The Bangor Daily News did somewhat better, with daily figures down 4.74 percent to 52,990, and its weekend edition falling 4.36 percent to 60,536.
At the Times Record in Brunswick, the daily circulation was 8,673, while the weekend number was 10,366. I couldn’t locate the 2008 statistics, but in 2007 the TR was selling 10,778 papers during the week and 12,225 on weekends, so the decline over two years amounts to 19.5 percent and 15.2 percent respectively.
The Journal Tribune in Biddeford is listed as not having filed a report. The Lewiston Sun Journal, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville aren’t listed as participants in the ABC survey.
Not bound by the facts: WCSH-TV offered a blast from the past in its 5 p.m. newscast on May 5. In a story on the Maine House of Representatives’ passage of same-sex marriage legislation, it showed a lawmaker speaking in support of the measure and identified as “Rep. John Joyce (D) Portland.”
For the record, Joyce was last elected to the Legislature in 1982. He’s since died. The person shown on screen appeared to be Democratic state Rep. Charles Harlow of Portland.
Mainebiz magazine ran a glowing story by Jackie Farwell in its May 4 edition on the marketing efforts of Portland’s new minor-league basketball team. 
But maybe that marketing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The story identifies the NBA Development league franchise as the “Portland Red Claws.” It’s actually the Maine Red Claws .
In a May 3 Maine Sunday Telegram story on the influence wielded by the state’s U.S. senators, political correspondent Dieter Bradbury wrote, “With [Arlen] Specter in their party, Democrats hold 59 of the Senate’s 100 seats.” 
In reality, there are 57 Democrats and two independents who caucus with them. Given that 60 votes are needed to cut off filibusters, it’s important to note that the Dems don’t have quite as unified a bloc as Bradbury indicated.
Not bothering to run facts: I have yet to figure out how the editors at the Lewiston Sun Journal make their news decisions, since they often bury significant stories in the local section and run drivel on the front page. But at least the news is in there somewhere.
Most of the time.
On May 1, Gov. John Baldacci released his revised budget plan calling for sharp cuts and other measures to cover a $570 million shortfall. The next day’s Sun Journal had not one word about it, although it did find room for an entire page of photos of people dressed up for a local fundraising event, which apparently was deemed more important than the possibility many people in the state may be paying higher taxes and receiving diminished services starting in July.
An abbreviated version of the Associated Press story on the spending plan finally made it into the paper on May 3, two days after the announcement. 
If the SJ was going to wait so long, why not put some effort into the piece by doing a little digging? There was almost certainly a local angle in there somewhere, just the thing to have the paper’s alleged State House reporter dig out.
The Bangor Daily News also ran the AP story (a day earlier than the Sun Journal), but followed up on May 4 with an excellent survey of the issues involved in the revised budget by Capitol News Service’s Mal Leary. 
And speaking of drivel: How is it that Portland Press Herald columnist Justin Ellis can be so sharp some weeks and so completely out of touch in others? Ellis’ May 4 piece on coverage of the legislative public hearing on same-sex marriage read like it was written by a doddering techno-newbie. 
Ellis gushed about how the paper used Twitter (described for those who’ve been in a coma for the last two years as “the growing ‘micro-blogging’ service”) for updated coverage, and he marveled at the live video feed offered on the Press Herald’s Web site, even though the feed was the product of student journalists at the University of Maine.
What he doesn’t do is explain why the largest news organization in the state (for this week, anyway) didn’t take the initiative to stream the hearing itself. He also doesn’t delve into the generally worthless nature of most tweets in terms of conveying information. Previous Press Herald attempts to use that medium, such as the paper’s horrendous coverage of the presidential inauguration, have ranged from boring to embarrassing.
How about a column on why that is.
Follow-up: In an earlier posting, I took Morning Sentinel staff writer Scott Monroe to task for missing an important issue in his coverage of Prime Tanning Co.’s financial problems. 
So, it’s only fair that I give Monroe credit for filling in the blanks in an April 30 article that thoroughly explores the Missouri lawsuits against Prime. 
Better late than never. In this case, a lot better.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.