Down East 2013 ©
No more free lunch: It now appears that the impending announcement from MaineToday Media, tentatively scheduled for Friday, Dec. 23, will be less sweeping than rumored.
No employee buyout of the company. In an earlier posting , I misinterpreted what my sources were telling me (a danger of communicating by email). The buyout they were talking about was of the company purchasing the Portland Newspaper Guild’s share of MTM. This was discussed during contract negotiations with the union earlier this year, but never progressed past the talking stage.
No white knight. If I had ten bucks for every email I’ve received telling me that one or another of Maine’s richest residents is about the buy MaineToday, I’d be able to purchase the company myself (it wouldn’t cost more than two hundred bucks, right?). There doesn’t appear to be any truth to any of these claims.
No dramatic alterations in the printed product. MTM’s three dailies – the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel – will continue to publish much as they have been.
I’m told that the only big change in the works involves the company’s online product. MaineToday had informed employees last fall that it planned to institute a paywall for its website – requiring users to subscribe to view news stories and other content – in April 2012. It now appears that may happen much sooner.
According to sources familiar with discussions on the paywall, the plan calls for consolidating the websites of all three dailies, making the MaineToday.com  site the gateway to all the company’s offerings. One source said MTM officials have been crunching numbers and now believe charging for online content will produce enough new revenue to offset losses in web advertising, which never amounted to much, anyway. Another source said the paywall has strong support not only from MaineToday’s business offices, but on the news side, as well.
One industry insider expressed doubts the paywall will have a significant impact in reversing MTM’s serious financial problems. “It’s so hard to turn that ship around because of the public perception that the newspaper is going downhill,” the insider said. “It’s hard to overcome that reputation.”
As has been the case with most speculation about MaineToday of late, the above information may be incomplete or otherwise muddled.
Blue radio: Gerald Weinand, the proprietor of the Dirigo Blue  website, is taking to the airwaves. Starting Dec. 22, Weinand will host a weekly hour-long political talk show  on community station WRFR (93.3 and 99.3 FM) in Rockland. The left-leaning show is misleadingly titled “One On The Right” and airs from 1-2 p.m. on Thursdays. For those outside Maine’s mid-coast, it can also be heard on the station’s live stream .
Weinand has earned a reputation for relentless digging into the political details other reporters often overlook, making his site a must-read for political junkies and earning him respect from activists across the ideological spectrum. If his show follows the same pattern, he should attract a small but loyal audience.
Billings goes biz: Reporter Randy Billings has left the Forecaster weeklies after five years of increasingly solid work to join Mainebiz magazine, where he replaces Jackie Farwell, who recently departed to cover health issues for the Bangor Daily News.
Al Diamon can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org .