Down East 2013 ©
Thaxton splits: Steve Thaxton, general manager of the Gannett-owned WCSH-TV in Portland and WLBZ-TV in Bangor, is leaving after more than a dozen years at the stations. Thaxton will become vice president and general manager of WCPO in Cincinnati .
According to a news release from E.W. Scripps Co., the Ohio station’s owner, Thaxton was chosen for the job because of his experience with local programming. Channel 6’s news has long dominated the Portland market, while Channel 2 has put up credible numbers as Bangor’s number two station. The WCSH and WLBZ broadcasts have largely avoided the hyperactive sensationalism that permeates Portland rival WGME, but under Thaxton’s management, the news content has shown little in the way of innovation or enterprise.
Thaxton takes over at WCPO on March 21.
Rare occurrences of real reporting: The March 6 Lewiston Sun Journal did what good newspapers are supposed to do. It followed up. Staff writer Lindsay Tice marked the one-year anniversary (plus a couple of weeks) of her 2010 expose on big salaries and perks  being handed out by Maine’s supposedly cash-starved hospitals by again delving into the financial records  of those institutions.
While Tice found that some hospitals had made cuts in executive pay and benefits, she also uncovered plenty of examples of compensation that were sharply at odds with the poor-mouth claims of health-care providers.
Likewise, reporter Randy Billings, in his March 1 Forecaster story , provides an in-depth look at the quirky restaurant-inspection policies of the state and the cities of Portland and South Portland. Billings found gaping holes in the system that’s supposed to make sure eateries are up to code and uncovered record-keeping problems in Maine’s most populous municipality that call into question whether it’s doing its job at all when it comes to restaurant safety.
Check it out before you eat out again.
MaineToday Media follies: Portland Press Herald staff writer Kelley Bouchard has what looks like a page-one scoop  in the March 7 paper. According to Bouchard, “Statewide, about 1,200 school jobs could be eliminated as districts consider cutting teachers and programs, increasing class sizes and consolidating school services.”
Where did Bouchard get that 1,200-cuts prediction? She doesn’t bother to mention a source. Her story says Portland will lay off eighty-one people, Scarborough will cut twelve, Cape Elizabeth is eliminating one and a half and … uh … that seems to be it. The remaining 1,100-plus staff reductions aren’t specified.
Considering that three other reporters helped gather information for this sketchy piece (and presumably, an editor or two had a look at it), it seems as if somebody could have provided a little verification.
There was a curious omission from Maine Sunday Telegram staff writer Tom Bell’s gushy profile  of new state Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Norman Olsen on March 6. While Bell goes into considerable detail about Olsen’s brief early career as a fisherman, he somehow neglected to mention the guy used to be a reporter for the Telegram and Press Herald.
Probably didn’t want to damage his reputation.
Speaking of gushy, check out Telegram staff writer Emma Bouthilette’s March 6 profile  of Nancy Payne of Falmouth. Unfortunately for readers, nowhere in the gush could I find any semblance of a news hook. Well, except for Nancy Payne being the mother of Telegram columnist Tony Payne. But I’m sure that relationship had nothing to do with this glop getting in the paper.
Razor burn: The conservative As Maine Goes Web site is often a hotbed of unsubstantiated claims of liberal media bias, but it would be tough to argue with this one. An AMG poster discovered a photo of female staff members at the Republican Journal in Belfast  taking part in the “little beards” protest against Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
This may have been intended as a joke, but somebody should have realized the implications for the paper’s credibility, and put a stop to it before it ended up on Facebook.
(Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in the Republican Journal. And I have a beard. But not a “little” one.”)
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org .