Steve Mistler named 2011 Journalist of the Year

Steve Mistler, State House reporter for the Sun Journal in Lewiston, is the 2011 Maine Press Association Journalist of the Year.

Mistler was honored Saturday during the annual MPA Fall Conference at Point Lookout in Northport.

Heather Steeves of the Bangor Daily News was winner of the Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award.

General Excellence awards went to The Portland Press Herald for daily newspaper of the year; the Sun Journal for weekend newspaper; The Ellsworth American for Weekly 2 newspaper; and Mount Desert Islander for Weekly 1 newspaper.

The Sun Journal was named winner of the 2011 Freedom of Information Award.

Three Maine journalists also were inducted into the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame: Beurmond Banville, longtime Bangor Daily News reporter; the late David Bourque, sports editor of The Times Record in Brunswick; and Seba Smith, founder of the Portland Courier, Maine’s first daily newspaper. Smith edited the newspaper from 1830 to 1837.

Mike Dowd, editor in chief of the Bangor Daily News, is the MPA’s new president for 2011-2012. New members of the board elected during MPA’s annual business meeting on Saturday are Mike Lange of Hometown Newspapers and Lisa Williams Ackley, staff writer for The Bridgton News. Lange is a former MPA executive director.

A complete list of MPA Better Newspaper Contest award winners will be posted this week.

Make your reservations for MPA’s fall conference

Join journalists and advertising representatives from across the state Saturday, Oct. 15, for the Maine Press Association’s fall conference at Point Lookout in Northport.

The day will begin with coffee hour at 8:30 a.m., followed by two concurrent workshops for writers and advertising representatives. The 9:30 a.m. writing workshop will feature first-place winners from this year’s contest and their insights on uncovering and reporting Maine’s top stories.

The advertising workshop will feature the best in advertising talent. Participants will have several minutes with a leader at each speed-coaching table then move on to cover a different topic with another pro. The session will end with a lively discussion of hot topics in advertising.

Featured guests will include:

Julie Clark, advertising manager from the Ellsworth American and the MDIslander, who will present ideas on how to snag special section/anniversary section advertising;

Cyndy Bell, advertising account manager at Current Publishing and last year’s MPA advertising person of the year, who will discuss the benefits of building strong community relationships;

Terri Mahoney, VP/associate publisher, VillageNet Media, who will lead a table discussion on selling online advertising for newspaper sites;

Nancy Boyington, assistant director of the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, who will represent the customer and chat about what she expects from her ad rep.

The second morning session, 10:00 to 11:10, will feature Matt DeRienzo, a Westbrook native and regional publisher for the Journal Register Co. in Connecticut. DeRienzo will speak about the open newsroom initiative at The Register Citizen in Torrington, Conn. Last December the newspaper opened the country’s first Newsroom Cafe. The cafe is integrated into the newspaper’s offices, with no walls between the public and reporters and editors.

Steven Waldman, senior adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will follow at 11:15 with a look at the information needs of communities and the changing media landscape. Waldman was lead author of a major report on the state of the media that’s been called one of the most comprehensive overviews of the U.S. media ever produced.

The Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony, which begins at 12:30 p.m., will honor longtime Bangor Daily News reporter Beurmond Banville, the late Times Record sports editor David Bourque and Seba Smith, founder of Maine’s first daily newspaper. The luncheon cost is $25.

All members are invited to the MPA’s business meeting at 2 p.m.

Need a new MPA hat or hoodie or even a weekend getaway? You won’t want to miss the Fellowship Fundraising Auction and cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. We’re changing the format this year to a silent auction, so you’ll have plenty of time to survey the offerings and place your bids.

The dinner and awards presentation will begin at 7 p.m. The 2011 Better Newspaper Contest winners will be announced along with General Excellence awards, Journalist of the Year and the Bob Drake Young Writer award.

Kick up your heels after hours at Point Lookout’s state-of-the-art bowling facility with some heated team competition.

The group rate for the daytime program is $50 for the first person from each newspaper and $20 for each additional staff member. Individual registration is $35, or $10 for students. The awards banquet cost is $49 per person, or $39 for those who registered for the conference. Dinner choices are seafood stuffed roulades of sole with sherry cream, sauteed medallions of pork tenderloin with pommery mustard cream sauce or vegetable and ricotta strudel with roasted tomato coulis.

Make your reservations for the conference by emailing Registration forms also will be available this week on this website. Lodging reservations for Friday and Saturday are available through Point Lookout at 800-515-3611. Room rates range from $129 for one bedroom to $249 for three bedrooms. A 50 percent deposit is required with reservations.

MPA announces 2011 Hall of Fame inductees

Longtime Bangor Daily News reporter Beurmond Banville, the late Times Record sports editor David Bourque and Seba Smith, founder of Maine’s first daily newspaper, have been selected as the 2011 inductees of the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony will be held 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15, at Point Lookout in Northport. The ceremony is held as part of the annual Maine Press Association Fall Conference.  To register for the ceremony or entire conference, contact or call 866-275-3236.

For 36 years, Banville’s byline accompanied virtually every news story that came out of the St. John Valley and northern Aroostook County.

In nominating Banville, Bangor Daily News reporter Jennifer Lynds said her former colleague, “produced a constellation of stories telling the tales of life in the St. John Valley.  During each work day,” she added, “he would pump out an amazing volume of stories, sometimes as many as six a day. It was an honor to work with him.”

That “constellation of stories” included countless town council and school board meetings, the Allagash flood in 1990, labor unrest in the northern Maine woods, and the arsenic poisoning case in New Sweden.  Working close to the Canadian border also gave him the opportunity to cover the queen of England’s two visits to Canada, Pope John Paul II’s visit to Canada and a summit in Quebec City with Ronald Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Banville is a longtime community volunteer and currently serves on the Saint Agatha Board of Selectmen and Executive Committee of the Maine Municipal Association.  He is a director and past president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent Alumni Association. In 2008, the university awarded Banville its Outstanding Alumni Award.  In 1993, he was named Frenchville’s Citizen of the Year.

Bourque served as sports editor of The Times Record for 37 years and in the process “brought honor to the profession, and embodied the most enduring values of community journalism,” wrote Times Record Managing Editor Robert Long.

Bourque died in November 2008. Shortly after his death, Bath native and Boston Globe sportswriter Chad Finn wrote, “In high school, Dave was the only sportswriter I knew personally, and so I watched and observed how he approached his job. It was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.”

Another Times Record colleague, George Almasi, wrote, “He had a passion for local sports and cared deeply about the students, coaches and administrators.” One of Bourque’s columns, about alleged racism in Maine high school basketball, was reprinted in Sports Illustrated.

Smith, who was born in Buckfield and graduated from Bowdoin in 1818, began his career as editor of the Eastern Argus, a Portland weekly. His editorials in favor of Maine’s separation from Massachusetts are credited with advancing the cause of statehood.  Smith went on to establish the Portland Courier, Maine’s first daily newspaper, which he edited from 1830 to 1837.

While at the Courier, Smith covered the Maine Legislature.  He created the fictional character Jack Downing as a way of commenting on the proceedings in a way that was “both informative and entertaining,” wrote Hall of Fame member Jim Brunelle.  Smith’s writings were reprinted in a Boston newspaper and then became hugely popular on nationwide level.  “In many respects,” wrote Brunelle, a former political reporter and editorial page editor for the Maine Sunday Telegram, “modern political satire began with a Maine man – Seba Smith – one of our earliest newspapermen and one of our most influential writers.”

The Maine Press Association Hall of Fame was established in 1998 to honor newspaper journalists with Maine connections who have made outstanding contributions to the profession.  With the 2011 induction, the Hall of Fame will have 55 members.

Deadline nears for MPA individual awards, Hall of Fame

Don’t forget the June 10 mailing deadline for MPA individual award nominations. These include the Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award, Advertising Salesperson of the Year, Circulation Person of the Year, Freedom of Information (daily/weekend and combined weekly). Please note Bob Drake award nominees must have less than two years of experience as of July 2010.

Nominations should be sent to Maine Press Association, MPA Awards, 1079 River Road, Buxton, ME 04093.

Nominations also are being taken for 2011 inductees to the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame. The deadline for nominations also is June 10. Candidates must be Maine newspaper professionals who have made lasting career contributions to their craft, in or out of the state. Typically, some of each year’s Hall of Fame class is inducted posthumously. A total of 52 journalists have been inducted since the Hall of Fame was established in 1998.

The MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee asks that names 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.

Nominations can be sent to the committee chair, Bob Caswell, at, or USM Public Affairs, P.O. Box 9300, Portland, ME 04014. If you have questions, please call 780-4200.

New report details economic impact of Maine newspapers; press conference planned for Tuesday

What’s as big as Maine’s potato crop and offers food for thought? Maine newspapers.

A new report on the economic and fiscal impact of Maine’s newspaper industry shows the annual sales of Maine newspapers equal the value of Maine’s vaunted potato crop: $154 million.

The report was commissioned by the Maine Press Association and Maine Daily Newspaper Publisher’s Association. According to the study, Maine’s newspaper industry in 2010 also:

Employed 1,766 people, or approximately the same as Maine’s semiconductor industry;

  • Paid wages and benefits of $71.3 million;
  • Invested nearly $7 million in new buildings, vehicles and equipment;
  • Paid approximately $7.5 million in state and local taxes.

The economic ripple effect from Maine’s newspaper industry creates sales for Maine businesses of more than $307 million per year, supports 3,000-plus jobs with total wages of more than $142 million, and pays $12.7 million in state and local taxes, according to the study.

Maine newspapers have been critical to Maine’s economy for almost two centuries: They cover the news, link businesses to consumers and help readers navigate their days and enjoy their nights.

They are a cornerstone of our democracy – and they mean business.

Please join us at a press conference, 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 3, in the Welcome Center at the State House to learn more about this report and pending legislation that threatens the health and vibrancy of Maine’s newspapers.

Watch for MPA contest packets

MPA member newspapers should have received contest packets in the mail this week. The contest period is April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011. Circulation and advertising managers should check with their newspaper’s editor for copies of contest rules, entry form and labels.

Contest entries must be postmarked by May 9. Don’t forget your newspaper’s MPA dues must be paid before you submit entries.

MPA writing workshops planned

The Maine Press Association will continue its series of half-day, hands-on writing workshops this spring. We’ll once again bring together small groups of writers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their own work, critique colleagues’ work and, most importantly, exchange ideas for writing better stories.

The workshops will be led by Bill Nemitz, former MPA president and Journalist of the Year, who will discuss the way he reports and writes his columns for The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram. Nemitz and the group will examine specific aspects of the reporting and writing process, including story ideas, storytelling, interviewing and anything else the writers want to explore.

Participants will be asked to do some homework in advance so they can make the best use of time they will have to meet. Preparation, plenty of time and a limit of 12 writers per session will enable each group to focus on many things forgotten or ignored in the daily grind.

Workshops will be held Wednesday, April 27, and Friday, May 13, at the Times Record in Brunswick. Each workshop will start at 9 a.m. and end around 12:30 p.m. A working lunch will be provided by MPA as part of the $25 registration fee. Interested in this unique hands-on training opportunity? Contact Maine Press Association at