John E. Hammer

John E. Hammer, former News Editor of The Courier-Gazette, died June 1, 2021  at his home in Fruitland Park, FL with his wife Cheryl by his side after a lengthy battle with multiple myeloma cancer. The Camden native was 70 years old and had moved to Lake County Florida in 2006, retiring from Gannett, Inc. in 2017.

Hammer, who started working as a reporter/photographer at The Courier-Gazette as a high-school senior in 1969, became news editor of the tri-weekly in 1972, a position he held until leaving Maine in 1981 to take over as Managing Editor of The Maryland Independent, a suburban Washington, DC newspaper.

The 1969 Camden-Rockport High School graduate and University of Maine/Augusta attendee went on to a career that spanned nearly a half-century in the newspaper, publishing, and media field in multiple states.

John Elliot Hammer was born to Nelson John “Jack” Hammer and Helena D. (Gray) Hammer on Dec. 29, 1950 at the original Camden Hospital on Mountain Street. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Cheryl (Berg) Hammer; daughter Tracey Thibault, husband Marc and granddaughter Briannah of West Gardiner, Maine; stepdaughter Stacey Beneck and husband John of Elizabeth City, NC; stepdaughter Lesley Raley, husband Chris, and granddaughters Anna and Mia Raley of North Yarmouth, Maine; and mother-in-law Beverly Berg of Fruitland Park, FL.

Hammer had an interesting and varied journey in his newspaper/publishing career travels.

After Whitney Communications merged newspaper divisions in Maryland, Hammer moved to North Central Minnesota where he was Managing Editor and then Publisher of the daily/ Sunday Pioneer Newspapers and printing operations in Bemidji, MN until the sale of the property from Scripps-Pioneer Newspapers to Park Newspapers in the late 1980s. Hammer loved the Scandinavian influence of northern Minnesota and the people he met there through the ’80s but eventually moved back to Maine and NH as Vice-President of James Newspapers, where he worked in Portland. ME and North Conway, NH to be closer to his widowed mother in Camden.

Hammer was an owner or publisher-partner in several weekly or monthly ventures:  The Northern-Guide of Bemidji, MN; Senior News& Views – Minnesota; Parent & Family Monthly of Southern Maine; and The New Hampshire Times (formerly Seacoast Sunday) in Coastal NH and York County, ME with several partners, including longtime friend and former Courier-Gazette business manager, Wayne Nelson.

Upon moving to Florida, he worked for Gannett, Inc (later TEGNA and other publishing entities thereof) primarily in the Orlando and Lake County/The Villages region until retirement in 2017.

Hammer was involved with other business ventures over the years, including ownership of ITEX Maine (International Trade Exchange) a business-to-business bartering and alternative revenue system with more than 100 Maine and NH business members.  He was a business broker/appraiser with V-R Business Brokers of Portland in the early ’90s. Eventually, he specialized in media property consulting, turnaround, merger & acquisitions projects while his wife was also working as a traveling nurse, which allowed them to spend time together in various other parts of the country.

Hammer was president of the Maine Press Association while at The Courier-Gazette and involved in numerous other press/media organizations over the years. In 1981-1982 he served as a member of the (Maine) Governor’s Council of Tourism.
In Minnesota, he was active in local and regional civic organizations. He was named “Employer of the Year” by the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce. He was an adjunct professor of journalism at Bemidji State University, in the University of Minnesota system, and hosted and produced “North Country Edition”, a weekly current affairs program for KAWE-TV public broadcasting.

In 1986 he received citations from both the Bemidji Police Dept. and later from the Minnesota Police Chief’s Association for his actions in saving two children from a boating accident, in a runaway boat situation in which their father was ejected and drowned, near his lakefront home.

For the last 12 or so years, Hammer was the organizer and co-host of a reunion gathering for “the old Rockland press corps and friends” during “Lobster Festival Weekend”, which was at Cobb Manor, the Camden home of the late Bangor Daily News bureau reporter, Emmet Meara. “Chef Johnny Boy” provided the lobster rolls and other seafood/ribs/etc to an appreciative crowd of former reporters, media veterans, and Friends of The Emmet.  In lieu of any wake or Celebration of Life observance, Mr. Hammer simply expressed his hopes “that the Hammer-feast and Reunion” event could continue again in 2021and perhaps thereafter.

Interment will be in a private family ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery on Cape Rosier, Brooksville, Maine.

Memorial donations can be made to the John E. and Helena D. Hammer Memorial Fund at PAWS, as the former Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League is now known:  PAWS, P.O. Box 107, Rockport, ME 04856. Or follow directions at,  “If you really want to make a heartfelt donation, just go and adopt or sponsor a homeless pet there now,” Hammer quipped.


Nominations Sought for 2021 MPA Hall of Fame

Nominations are being taken for 2021 inductees to the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame. The deadline for nominations is Friday, July 2.

Candidates must be Maine newspaper professionals who made lasting career contributions to their craft, in or out of the state. Members can be elected posthumously.

The Hall of Fame was established in 1998. A list of all inductees is on the MPA website at:

The MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee asks that nominations be submitted as soon as possible so they can be circulated among the committee members who will select the inductees.

Each nomination should be accompanied by supporting material that will help committee members as they make their decisions. Please be prepared to submit all nominations and supporting materials in an electronic format so the committee can access them remotely.

Nominations can be sent to the committee in care of Faith DeAmbrose at the Mount Desert Islander. Questions can be directed to her at or to
Maine Press Association Executive Director Diane Norton at

The 23rd annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held October 23 at the MPA Fall Conference in Augusta.

MPA Better Newspaper Contest Entries Due June 4

Entries are flowing in for the 2021 MPA Better Newspaper Contest.

The annual contest is our one collective chance to recognize, honor and award Maine’s press reporters, photographers, editors, sales, circulation and production crews. What better way to boost the morale of winners and nominees!

Clip your best work, and get those entries in by next Friday, June 4.

2021 MPA Programming: Cannabis Advertising, Legalities and Strategies

The Maine Press Association is excited to be able to offer another webinar in our 2021 series, Cannabis Advertising, Legalities and Strategies.

Marketing cannabis-related products can be challenging.  Mark Dion will discuss the complex rules and laws that surround advertising retail marijuana. Mark Dion is a lawyer and graduate of the University of Maine School of Law.  He currently sits on the Portland City Council.  He has served as Sheriff of Cumberland County and was the Chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in the Maine State Legislature.

Our colleagues from the Portland Press Herald will share some of their successes capturing cannabis advertising and marketing revenue and what they are planning for the future.

Date: Thursday, April 29 at 3 p.m.
Cost: $10
Platform:  Zoom

Please use the link below to register:

LD 876 withers following a committee’s ought-not-to-pass vote

Thanks to a lot of heavy lifting on the part of the Maine Press Association’s Legislative Committee, Executive Director Diane Norton, and MPA’s lobby team — Chris Jackson and Mitchell Tardy Jackson ( — we watched the resounding committee defeat of LD 876, An Act to Promote Efficiency in County and Municipal Government during an April 14 work session.

That bill proposed allowing county and municipal governments to meet the public notice requirement by merely posting on respective websites, and not, a currently stipulated, in a newspaper of general circulation.

The Local and State Government Committee voted 10-0 in favor of an ought-not-to-pass motion.

Wednesday’s vote was a relief for MPA members for many reasons, including that the publication of public notices represent a substantial revenue stream for many newspapers.

MPA board members had testified against this bill, and personally called State and Local Committee members, carefully substantiating why public notices belong in newspapers, and not just at governmental websites. Our points were these:

  • Newspapers provide accessibility, independence, verifiability and archivability — all essential elements of the public notices law.
  • Citizens affected by public notices must have a realistic opportunity to read them. Newspapers and their websites draw far larger audiences than government websites and combined with their print reach, far exceed the reach of individual government websites.
  • The bill especially disenfranchises low-income, minority, and older residents who are less likely to have internet access.
  • The bill moves business away from a well established, functioning private industry system, and diverts it to the government with no established system or track record.
  • Notices should be published by organizations independent of the government body or corporation whose plans or actions are subject to the notice. Newspapers provide third-party neutrality that ensures public notices run in accordance with the law.

Bills such as 876 have been crossing committee desks for the past decade, and we are certain the debate is not over.

Which means MPA and its members must better market its public notices, and our website,

Maine is not the only state with bills that have surfaced proposing to remove public notices from newspapers. It is a critical issue for the newspaper business, and the Americas Newspaper organization recently released marketing materials focused on protecting public notices.

The materials include print, digital and social media components.

Visit here  to join the campaign and download ads for your own newspapers and websites.

NEFAC Strengthens Advocacy in Maine, New England with Additions to Board of Directors

Sun Journal Editor Judy Meyer and Gannett New England Executive Lisa Strattan to Help Lead Coalition

The New England First Amendment Coalition is pleased to announce two additions to its Board of Directors: Judy Meyer, Executive Editor of the Sun Journal, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel; and Lisa Strattan, vice president of News for Gannett New England.

“We are thrilled to have Judy and Lisa join our Board of Directors,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “Their experience and expertise will help strengthen our advocacy in Maine and throughout all New England states.”

JUDY MEYER | Sun Media Group

Judy Meyer

Judy Meyer is executive editor of the Sun Journal, Kennebec Journal, the Morning Sentinel and six weekly newspapers owned by the Sun Media Group. She serves as vice president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and is a member of the Right to Know Advisory Committee to the Legislature.

A journalist since 1990 and former editorial page editor for the Sun Journal, she was named Maine’s Journalist of the Year in 2003. She serves on the New England Newspaper & Press Association Board of Directors and was the 2018 recipient of the Judith Vance Weld Brown Spirit of Journalism Award.

A fellow of the National Press Foundation and the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, she attended George Washington University, lives in Auburn with her husband, Phil, and is an active member of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

LISA STRATTAN | Gannett New England

Lisa Strattan

Lisa Strattan is currently vice president of News for Gannett’s New England region, leading a team of approximately 300 journalists and responsible for 16 daily publications; 84 weekly publications and more than 100 websites.

Prior to the merger of Gannett and Gatehouse, Strattan was Vice President of News developing and executing the editorial vision for 11 daily publications, 120 weekly publications and more than 180 websites across three states.

Earlier in her career, Strattan served as GateHouse Media New England SVP/Executive Editor & Publisher of Wicked Local, the company’s network of 160 hyper-local websites. She was also Executive Editor of The Patriot Ledger & The Enterprise of Brockton. Previously, Strattan served as publisher of GHMNE’s SouthCoast division, comprised of The Herald News, Taunton Daily Gazette and O Jornal. For many years she was editor in chief of The Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette, and she has worked in various newsroom roles at newspapers in Colorado, Florida and Iowa.
Strattan served as vice chair of the board of UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research and is a member of the Dennison Memorial Community Center. For several years, she was a SMILES mentor, and served on the executive committee of the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts, chairing its marketing committee. She also served on the Board of the Directors of the Battleship Massachusetts Memorial Committee, Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce, the Taunton Area Chamber of Commerce, Metro South Chamber of Commerce and Bridgewater Credit Union. She currently serves as a board member for the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association.

LCN Names Deputy Editor

Maia Zewert is the new deputy editor of The Lincoln County News. (Amber Clark photo)

Maia Zewert is the new deputy editor of The Lincoln County News. (Amber Clark photo)

The Lincoln County News has named Maia Zewert deputy editor.

Zewert joined The Lincoln County News as a general assignment reporter in August 2015. She covered the towns of Bristol, Damariscotta, Newcastle, and South Bristol. In November 2017, she received the Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award from the Maine Press Association.

In January 2018, she moved into the business side of operations as marketing and engagement coordinator for Lincoln County Publishing Co., which publishes the LCN. She managed the company’s social media and the #LCNme365 photo contest, served as coordinator of Lincoln County Magazine through a successful relaunch of the publication, and developed award-winning youth engagement programs.

As deputy editor, Zewert will move back into the editorial department. She will assist the editor and serve as editor of special publications, including the magazine. She will also continue her work with local students and continue to manage the photo contest and social media.

Zewert becomes the first deputy editor at the newspaper since 2016. The change was effective Feb. 24.

J.W. Oliver, editor of The Lincoln County News, said he is glad to welcome Zewert back to the newsroom.

“Maia has the news judgment and skills necessary to be a leader in the newsroom. She is an excellent reporter and writer with an eye for detail,” Oliver said. “We had a good rapport during her time as a reporter and I am excited to see what we can accomplish together as an editing team.”

Zewert looks forward to returning to the newsroom and her editorial roots.

“Working at The Lincoln County News and living in this community has changed my life in many ways, and I am excited about this next chapter,” Zewert said.

A 2015 graduate of Iowa State University, Zewert lives in Waldoboro.

In another staff change, editorial assistant Nettie Hoagland will move into a new role as a part-time reporter.

Hoagland, of Walpole, first came to the LCN as a summer news intern in 2019 and rejoined the staff as a part-time editorial assistant in December 2020.

Hoagland is a graduate of South Bristol School, Lincoln Academy, and St. Michael’s College.

Maine Press Association awards $4K in scholarships

The Maine Press Association is awarding $4,000 in scholarships to three journalism students for the spring semester.

 Recipients of 2021 scholarships are Jack Allsopp, of Old Orchard Beach, a senior at the University of New England and editor-in-chief of The Bolt; Michael Corrado, of Medford, Mass., a senior at the University of Maine and contributor to Guy Boston Sports; and Bhavana Scalia-Bruce, of Portland, a senior at the University of Maine and business manager of the Maine Campus.

 The Maine Press Association awards at least one scholarship every year to a junior or senior with financial need who plans to pursue a career in journalism. The scholarships are possible through the generosity of bidders at the Maine Press Association’s annual scholarship auction and the donors who provide the auction items.

 To inquire about the 2022 scholarship, contact scholarship committee Chair Sindhu Manjesh at

The Maine Press Association (MPA), founded in 1864, is one of the oldest professional news organizations in the nation. We strive to promote and foster high ethical standards in journalism and the best interests of the journalists and media organizations that constitute our membership; to encourage best business and editorial practices and a better media environment in Maine; and to protect the principles of freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.

Upcoming FOIA Webinar hosted by the Maine Press Association

The Maine Press Association is excited to offer a wide variety of webinars throughout 2021. Our first in the series focuses on Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.
Join Maine Monitor Senior Reporter Samantha Hogan as she discusses the complexities of Maine’s public-access rules and the importance of holding government officials accountable. Hogan will also share useful tools that can help journalists with digital research, public access and data visualization.
Samantha Hogan, Senior Reporter for the Maine Monitor, focuses on a range of government accountability projects. She previously worked for The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, covering state politics, agriculture, the environment and energy, and interned twice for The Washington Post. In 2020, Samantha was selected to work with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network to investigate Maine’s indigent defense system. She lives with her cat Ida – named for the mother of investigative journalism, Ida Tarbell.
Cost: $10
Platform: Zoom
Please use the link below to learn more and register: