Three new members have been chosen to join the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame.
The MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee has selected Don Hansen, retired editorial page editor for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram; Scott Haskell, retired photo editor of the Bangor Daily News; and Emery “Legs” Labbe, retired sportswriter and publisher for the St. John Valley Times, as this year’s inductees.
The Hall of Fame was established in 1998 to honor newspaper journalists with Maine connections who have made outstanding contributions to the profession. With the 2013 inductions, the Hall of Fame will have 60 members.
The new members will be inducted at a luncheon on Oct. 26 at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel and Conference Center in Bar Harbor, as part of the annual MPA Fall Conference. To register for the induction ceremony or the entire conference, contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 10. For room reservations at the Atlantic Oceanside at a special group rate, call (800) 336-2463.
This year’s inductees:
Don Hansen spent his career in Maine journalism – as a reporter, editor, political columnist, editorial writer and, finally, the longtime editorial page director of the Gannett newspapers of Portland: the Press Herald, the Maine Sunday Telegram and the Evening Express. In that time, he made a singular contribution to every aspect of those jobs, and to Maine journalism in general.
Born in Aroostook County in 1935, Hansen set out on his professional path upon graduation from high school. After earning a degree in journalism at Boston University in 1957, he immediately won a job as editor of the Boothbay Register. Two years later, he became editor of the Brunswick Record, and in 1960 he joined the Portland newspapers. He started as City Hall reporter and then, for a dozen years, covered the State House.
He earned a reputation for a reporting style that was direct, informed and rounded. His twice-weekly columns reflected his ability to sort out complicated legislative issues with clarity and easygoing humor.
In 1973, Hansen was named editorial page director for the Portland papers. He held the job for the better part of two decades, during which he helped to transform editorial pages that were perceived as reliably Republican into a broader, more open forum for independent views.
Throughout his long career, Hansen worked to maintain the highest standards of his craft. His efforts had a direct impact on the course of politics and public affairs in this state, and on the quality of information available to Maine citizens.
Over the course of his 33-year career with the Bangor Daily News, Scott Haskell established himself as a premier photographer and made the newspaper a magnet for other talented visual journalists, with his leadership as photo editor for 18 years.
When Haskell retired in August 2011, the newspaper published a story that said, “His photographs captured celebration and joy, tragedy and grief, and almost everything in between. … He spent hot afternoons in blueberry fields, freezing mornings on rural roads” and was even at the controls of the nuclear submarine USS Maine for a couple of minutes during a shakedown cruise, diving beyond the continental shelf off Connecticut.
Haskell started taking pictures for the Bangor Daily News in 1977, when he was a journalism student at the University of Maine. He was promoted to photo editor in 1993 and, when he retired, had the title of visuals editor, with responsibility for photos and video on the newspaper’s website.
Over the course of his career, he won numerous awards from the Maine Press Association, New England press associations, the National Press Photographers Association and the Society for News Design.
Mike Dowd, the editor-in-chief of the Bangor Daily News when Haskell retired, wrote in nominating Haskell to the MPA Hall of Fame, “I was fortunate to work with Scott for nearly 30 years and found him to be not only an exemplary journalist, but an exceptional human being.”
Emery “Legs” Labbe
Emery “Legs” Labbe started in newspapers as a part-time sports reporter for the St. John Valley Times in 1965, while he was teaching elementary school in northern Aroostook County. That part-time job led to a career in journalism spanning more than 30 years, in which Labbe became publisher of the weekly paper in Madawaska and what one of his successors, Tessie Dubois, called “a living legend” in Maine’s St. John Valley.
“He made a career of pushing ink across countless pages because he believed in the importance of sports and athletics upon the growing adolescents and young adults,” wrote Beurmond Banville, a retired Bangor Daily News reporter who covered the area and joined the Hall of Fame in 2011. “He brought them into the limelight, told their stories, their triumphs and joys and the sad stories of defeats and broken hearts.”
In recommending Labbe for the Hall of Fame, Banville wrote, “In all likelihood, if you participated in sports in northern Maine since 1960, ‘Legs’ Labbe has probably written about you.”
Labbe worked as sports reporter and editor until 1986, when he retired from education and became publisher of the St. John Valley Times. He served for a decade before retiring from that position.
Another Hall of Famer, former St. John Valley Times Editor and Publisher Don Levesque, wrote, “Legs cared. That’s the bottom line. Legs cared about young athletes and he publicly celebrated their achievement and mourned their losses. People who truly care about something can be very rare indeed. There will never be another Legs Labbe, the bar he set for covering local sports is much too high.”