Registration now open for the MPA Annual Fall Conference in Bar Harbor

The Maine Press Association’s Annual Fall Conference will be held this year on October 21, 2017, at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center in Bar Harbor. A full day of conference events is planned, including the Hall of Fame Inductee Luncheon, annual Scholarship Auction, and the 2017 Better Newspaper Contest Awards Dinner & Banquet.

Contest judges have been jamming the MPA Office with packages, decisions and wonderful comments. We hope to have the majority of decisions sorted, reviewed and ready to share with members in the next ten days.

As always, we’ve negotiated a great hotel rate for the nights of Oct. 20-21 for MPA members and guests at Atlantic Oceanside. All MPA rooms have a single king or two queen beds and are in the Main Hotel. The nightly rate is $139.

Guests can make hotel reservations by booking directly online at  (BOOK NOW) and using the MPA Group Code 27348, or by calling the Atlantic Oceanside reservation line at 800-336-2463 and referencing Maine Press Association. Reservation deadline is September 20, 2017. While the hotel will honor the MPA group rate after the reservation deadline, they cannot guarantee room availability.

You can find Conference Registration information and a registration form on the MPA website (look for 2017 Fall Conference tab) or by clicking here. Conference registration deadline is Monday, October 2.

MPA Annual Fall Conference is October 21 in Bar Harbor

The Maine Press Association’s Annual Fall Conference will be held this year on October 21 at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center in Bar Harbor. A full day of conference events is planned, including the Hall of Fame Inductee Luncheon, annual Scholarship Auction, and the 2017 Better Newspaper Contest Awards Dinner & Banquet.

And what about those awards? Judges are being mindful of this week’s deadline for decisions and comments, and have been overwhelming the MPA Office with packages, decisions and wonderful comments. We hope to have the majority of decisions sorted, reviewed and ready to share with members in the next two weeks.

As always, we’ve negotiated a great hotel rate for the nights of Oct. 20-21 for MPA members and guests at Atlantic Oceanside. All rooms held for us have a single king or two queen beds and are in the Main Hotel. The nightly rate is $139.

Guests can make hotel reservations by booking directly online at  (BOOK NOW) and using the MPA Group Code 27348, or by calling the Atlantic Oceanside reservation line at 800-336-2463 and referencing Maine Press Association. Reservation deadline is September 20, 2017. While the hotel will honor the MPA group rate after the reservation deadline, they cannot guarantee room availability.

In the meantime, be on the lookout next week for registration information as well as details about this year’s program and sessions.



A former executive editor of the Bangor Daily News and the longtime owner and publisher of two of Maine’s top weekly newspapers will enter the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame in October.

Mark Woodward and Alan Baker were selected this month by the MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee. They will be inducted Oct. 21 during the association’s annual Fall Conference at the Atlantic Oceanside in Bar Harbor.

Woodward’s career with the Bangor Daily News spanned 38 years, including 12 in which he was executive editor. As he led the news staff, he emphasized local news and oversaw the early years of the paper’s digital platforms and coverage.

He also emphasized community involvement, serving with organizations promoting education, economic development and elder care. He launched story-sharing agreements with Canadian and other Maine newspapers, and helped to establish a statewide courts and media committee, to resolve issues of mutual concern to journalists and the judiciary.

Woodward joined the Bangor Daily News in 1971 as a city reporter. He became editorial page editor in 1982 and helped shape public opinion in Maine for 15 years. He left the paper for eight months to be communications director for Sen. Susan Collins in Washington, D.C., in 1997. He was named executive editor in the fall of that year.

Woodward always valued the special role of a family-owned newspaper in Maine’s small communities, and especially in Bangor.

He retired on Jan. 1, 2010. In the paper’s article announcing his retirement, Mike Dowd, an editor who worked with Woodward for nearly 30 years, said, “It would be simple to measure Mark’s impact on the newsroom by the numerous awards the BDN has won under his stewardship. I think Mark’s leadership is best measured by the enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication our staffers display day in and day out. It all stems from his can-do attitude.”

Baker, owner and publisher of The Ellsworth American and the Mount Desert Islander, is known for his fervent belief that newspapers should be owned by individuals who are available and accountable to the communities they serve.

He has been a strong supporter of public notice and right-to-know laws in Maine, and has not hesitated to back up his papers’ insistence on openness by suing to prevent government officials from keeping the public’s work secret.

A native of Orrington, Baker joined James Russell Wiggins at the American in 1986. He bought the paper from Wiggins in 1991 and remained true to the famed editor’s legacy.

The paper prospered under his guidance, expanding its operations and modernizing its printing plant. The number of employees doubled, advertising revenue quadrupled and the paper began publishing award-winning special sections and supplements.

In 2001, Baker launched the Mount Desert Islander, a weekly in Bar Harbor that competed with a long-established, corporate-owned paper, which folded in 2012. He understood, in an era of shrinking news holes and news staffs, that content would ensure a community newspaper’s survival and success.

The Islander and the American have been recognized multiple times as the best weekly papers in Maine, New England and even the nation.

“None of that would be possible were it not for Mr. Baker’s insistence that the paper have the resources it needs to adequately serve the community,” said Earl Brechlin, the Islander’s editor since its first issue, in a letter nominating Baker for the MPA Hall of Fame. “His mantra is ‘content sells newspapers.’”

The MPA Hall of Fame, established in 1998, honors newspaper people with Maine connections who have made outstanding contributions to the profession. Its members are on the MPA website, at

Tickets to the Hall of Fame luncheon are available by contacting MPA Executive Director Diane Norton at or 691-0131.


MPA seeking nominations to Hall of Fame

Nominations are being taken for 2017 inductees to the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame. The deadline for nominations is Friday, July 7.

Candidates must be Maine newspaper professionals who 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.

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.

Nominations can be sent to the committee chair:
Jeff Ham
26 Elmwood Road
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

Questions may be directed to Jeff Ham or to Executive Director Diane Norton at

The 20th annual induction ceremony will be held Oct. 21 at the MPA Fall Conference in Bar Harbor.

Sports Reporter Needed

The Times Record, a five-day-a-week newspaper serving the Bath-Brunswick area of beautiful Midcoast Maine, has an immediate opening for a full-time Sports Reporter. The two-person sports team serves seven area high schools, along with Bowdoin College and Hyde School in Bath.
The right candidate will:
• Have a love of high school and college sports;
• Be well-versed in sports writing, copy editing and photography, and be willing to learn on the job in a fast-paced environment;
• Be knowledgeable in social media, as the sports department provides live coverage by using Twitter and Facebook.
The Sports Reporter will be expected to lay out pages. Experience is a plus, but we are willing to train the right candidate.  Position will start on Monday, June 19.
Those interested should submit a resume, cover letter
and three writing samples to Sports Editor Bob Conn

Part-time page designer/copy editor

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram seeks an exceptional part-time page designer/copy editor to join its team of outstanding journalists.

We are an ambitious news organization with high standards, and we need a talented page designer/copy editor who can work in both digital and print. The top candidate will be a talented news designer who knows what SND stands for and has a track record of creating compelling pages on deadline. Successful candidates are not just grammar sticklers who write great headlines and draw boxes. They prosecute stories, looking for holes and structural problems. We’re looking for an editor who’s comfortable switching back and forth between print and digital – and doing both at the same time. Our copy editors are expected to know what’s on the website and pay close attention to how our journalism is rendered digitally. They may run our website from time to time.

A minimum of three to five years editing and designing pages for a news organization is required. Digital experience is preferred.

This part-time position will require a variety of shifts – including days, nights and weekends. Hours could vary from week to week. Relocation expenses are not available for this part-time position.

If you’d like to join Maine’s finest and largest newsgathering operation, send your resume and 3 to 5 examples of your page designs to Copy Desk Chief Steve Ericson at We are an EEO employer. Application deadline is May 21, 2017.

Required skills:

  • Superior news judgment
  • Strong critical thinking abilities
  • Unrelenting attention to detail
  • Clear, precise writing, headline writing and copy-editing skills
  • Strong page design skills
  • SEO best practices
  • HTML


A victory for the Maine Press Association in Augusta!

Earlier this year, we filed a bill at the State House to remove the sunset provision that would have ended Maine newspapers’ exclusive right to publish public notices online at the end of 2017. Our pre-emptive action was successful. After jumping a few hurdles, the bill is now law!

With the help of Sen. Roland Martin, our sponsor, the bill quickly went through the Senate and the House and landed on the governor’s desk for approval. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed the bill, so it went back to the House and Senate for override votes, where it received overwhelming support. In fact, in the Senate the override was unanimous.

This was a significant victory for member newspapers of the Maine Press Association and for Maine people who will continue to easily access public notices in our newspapers, on our websites and at

Despite the victory, the governor or lawmakers could, in the future, introduce more legislation that would jeopardize Maine newspapers’ stewardship of public notices in print and online. For that reason, and to continue to enhance Maine residents’ access to the actions of government, the MPA continues to be full steam ahead on improving with a platform upgrade and move to a web-optimized experience.

Now more than ever, we need every member newspaper to review and enhance your own promotion of We have print and online promotional ads available and we encourage you to also use your powerful social media channels to drive more visitors to the site.

If you need a fresh set of promotional materials, please reach out to Diane Norton at

Of behalf of the MPA Legislative Committee of Mark Mogensen, Tony Ronzio, Lisa DeSisto and J.W. Oliver, we extend our appreciation to our attorney Chris Jackson. He expertly guided us through the process and reinforced how thankful we are to have Mitchell, Tardy, Jackson representing us in Augusta.  We also extend our thanks to Gary Gagne for his testimony at the State House.

Our victory and the governor’s attempt to thwart our efforts are further described in this AP story:

How can smaller newsrooms take on big projects? Look to the Portland Press Herald

By Kristen Hare • March 30, 2017

The Portland (Maine) Press Herald is not the first local news organization to do a big project on the heroin epidemic. Last year, the Palm Beach Post documented more than 200 deaths in 2015. The Cincinnati Enquirer has a reporter dedicated to covering the heroin epidemic. And students at Arizona State University did their own investigation.

“We definitely are aware of what our peers are doing,” said Dieter Bradbury, deputy managing editor at the the Press Herald, who followed coverage from other news outlets. “That was a source of inspiration. We really wanted to do something that was unique to Maine and that really put families and people in recovery front and center on this issue.”

The Press Herald’s heroin project, “Lost”, launched this week and, like The Palm Beach Post’s story, profiles some of the dead. It also has reporting on treatment, left behind children, recovery and heroin’s impact on women in the community.

To get those stories wasn’t easy, though, since overdose records aren’t part of the public record in Maine. The Press Herald is also, like a lot of newspapers, smaller than it once was. Of the 90 to 95 newsroom employees, 50 contributed to the project.

How can shrinking newsrooms still make time to cover the crucial and critical stories in their communities? Bradbury has some ideas.

Consider all the ways you might get sources

Because the Press Herald couldn’t rely on records to find the families of overdose victims, the Press Herald tried something totally different — the state attorney general.

Attorney General Janet T. Mills oversees the state medical examiner’s office, which gets all the state’s toxicology reports. The Press Herald convinced the attorney general’s office to send out a letter to the families of overdose victims on the newspaper’s behalf.

“I think we were described as a ‘reputable news organization,'” Bradbury said.

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After the letter went out, they waited for the calls and emails. Bradbury says they heard from scores of families that way. But they wanted more, so reporters reached out to another unlikely partner — local funeral directors.

The Press Herald works with them regularly for obituaries, and the newspaper writes a feature obituary regularly. Through the funeral directors, they were able to find another group of families for the project.

In all, they profiled 60.

Know you’ll pay a short-term price.

When big news happened and most of their resources were already allotted for this project, the newsroom had to scramble. But they knew they were playing a long game.

“I think we all felt like we’re paying a price here, but there will be a payback in the end. We were willing to make those tradeoffs,” Bradbury said.

Use what, and who, you have wisely.

In a small newsroom, it was especially important to match up the right people with the right jobs.

“Every newsroom has strengths and weaknesses, and every reporter has strengths and weaknesses, and with a project like this, I think it’s really important to try to put strengths with strengths so you’re getting the most out of people,” Bradbury said.

Think of your audience. All of them.

Before the series started, there was a debate in the newsroom about how to run it online and in print. Put everything up online? Run it one day at a time, like in print?

They decided on a hybrid solution. The profiles all went up on the first day. They’re running six a day in print for 10 days. The enterprise stories appear each day in print and online.

The Press Herald’s print and online audiences are very different, Bradbury said, and there’s not a lot of overlap.

“We try to pay attention to what their different needs are and try to meet those needs,” he said.

And online, at least, the Press Herald is seeing the results of their hard work and focus. People spend an average of two minutes with their stories. For the landing page for “Lost,” it’s been more like 14 minute. The main stories are getting an average of seven minutes.

The Press Herald is also seeing a different audience thanks to the project. Its traditional audience is between 55 and 64, Bradbury said. The project has flipped that, bringing in a majority of readers that are between 25 and 44. Normally, its audience is 51 percent female. With “Lost,” that number has risen to 71 percent.

They’ve also found big engagement on Facebook, where they’re airing Facebook Live sessions each day. Facebook normally drives between 12 and 14 percent of traffic to the Press Herald. Now, Bradbury said, it’s 46 percent.

Punch up.

“I think we like to think of ourselves as too big for our britches sometimes,” Bradbury said. “We always reach higher than we think we should reach on projects like this. That’s just sort of our default position.”

Often, it’s newsrooms that are the ones stopping themselves from taking on big projects, he said.

“It’s our own sense of what our limitations are. We always try to exceed those.”

Sun Journal receives First Amendment Award

SJBOSTON — The Sun Journal was recently awarded the Michael Donoghue First Amendment Award by the New England First Amendment Coalition.

The award was given to the Lewiston newspaper during the annual New England Newspaper and Press Association convention.

The freedom of information award is given each year to a New England journalist or team of journalists for a body of work that protects or advances the public’s right to access information possessed by federal and state governments.

The Sun Journal was honored for uncovering an unpublicized shift in Maine Judicial Branch policy that sealed the records of dismissed criminal cases, in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. According to NEFAC, “led by Executive Editor Judith Meyer, the Sun Journal fought against the policy and formed a coalition of freedom of information advocates to help force an end to the practice.”

The newspaper discovered the shift in policy in April 2016 after a reporter was denied access to the case file of Steven Thomas, a New Jersey man who had been charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault in a motorcycle accident in 2014 in Oxford County.

In a routine check on the case, the reporter was told the file didn’t exist. However, the Sun Journal had been reporting on the case — including the indictment against Thomas, his initial appearance and a plea hearing, among others — for nearly two years and had access to the file during that time.

The Sun Journal challenged the denial, and was told the Judicial Branch implemented a change in public access after an internal reinterpretation of the Criminal History Records Information Act.

According to Meyer, there was no public notice of that change.

The reality of the change, Meyer explained to NEFAC, was that a person’s arrest record — which prospective employers and others could readily find — would remain forever public, but the ultimate dismissal of that case would become secret. In some cases, even defendants were not able to access their own criminal case files once the cases were dismissed.

The Sun Journal challenged the courts on multiple points, saying the change prevented the public from ever knowing whether criminal cases were dismissed for proper cause and blocked defendants from being able to prove to potential employers and others that their criminal cases were dismissed.

“How is the media to be fair to people we report have been arrested if we then can’t report that their cases were ultimately dismissed?” Meyer asked the court.

The newspaper also asserted its First Amendment right of access to records of criminal proceedings. According to a First Circuit Court ruling, “the basis for this right is that without access to documents the public often would not have a ‘full understanding’ of the proceeding and therefore would not always be in a position to serve as an effective check on the system.”

Asked for an explanation about what prompted the change, Mary Ann Lynch, government and media counsel for the Judicial Branch, said the courts “have made a conscious decision to mirror the Criminal History Records Information Act. We do not want a situation where the courts are releasing information to the public that the legislature, through enacted law, has deemed confidential and that is not available through SBI,” which is Maine’s electronic database of criminal records.

One of the Sun Journal’s arguments was that CHRIA does not apply to criminal case files once charges are filed, regardless of the outcome of the case, so the courts are free to maintain public access.

After presenting that argument and various others to the court with no effect, the Sun Journal reached out to attorney Sigmund Schutz at Preti Flaherty, who serves as clerk of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition. According to Meyer, Schutz suggested that he and the Sun Journal work together to gather a group of interested parties to formally challenge the court, which they did.

That task force included the Maine FOI Coalition, the National FOI Coalition, the Maine Press Association, NEFAC, the New England Newspaper and Press Association, The Associated Press, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, ACLU of Maine, the Society of Professional Journalists, Hearst, Maine Broadcasters Association, the Sun Journal, the Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News.

The group sent a demand letter to the Judicial Branch claiming the court’s blanket seal on case files violated the First Amendment as interpreted by the U.S. Court of Appeals, was not mandated by any Maine statute, violated Judicial Branch administrative policy, and was contrary to Maine’s long-standing common law tradition of public access to criminal case records.

“We were essentially,” Meyer said, “telling the entire Judicial Branch it was violating the law.”

Following weeks of pressure from the group, the court reversed its policy and changed “the designation of dismissed cases back to public,” according to a written statement from Lynch.

In announcing the award, Justin Silverman, executive director for NEFAC, said, “We received many outstanding submissions this year and the Sun Journal’s work on behalf of the public’s right to know stood above all others.”

In accepting the award, Meyer praised the Sun Journal staff for its tenacity in guarding public access. “We have an absolute obligation to hold government accountable, which is what we did here.”

Previous recipients of the FOI award include: Jenifer McKim, reporter for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting; James W. Foley (posthumously), seasoned war correspondent and New Hampshire native; Brent Curtis, a reporter for the Rutland (Vt.) Herald; and Don Stacom of the Hartford Courant.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the five freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. It is a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society, including lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Mount Desert Islander is best in New England

MDIBOSTON — The Mount Desert Islander won first place for general excellence in the Weekly 1 division during the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) conference here Saturday.

“There isn’t one thing that goes on in this community that isn’t noticed by the Mount Desert Islander,” the judges wrote. The judges praised the papers design, content and advertising. “Awesome Acadia Park celebration section,” they wrote.

That section came away from the six-state association’s 600-member contest with a total of three awards. They included a first place for event promotion, a first for special section advertising supplement and a second for editorial supplement. “Packed with local celebratory ads and tons of local history,” the judges said.

In granting the Islander and its sister paper The Ellsworth American third place in New England for advertising general excellence, the judges praised the “Out and About” seasonal visitor magazine and mentioned the strength of the papers’ classified sections.

At NENPA’s annual meeting and conference at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, the Islander and its staff won a total of 25 awards for journalistic, photographic, digital, design and advertising excellence.

In addition to the honors levied on the Acadia section, first-place awards included government reporting by Dick Broom for his coverage of the process used by the National Park Service to acquire land at Schoodic. Mark Good also won a first for health reporting for a story on a heroin user’s struggle with opiate addiction. “Good details that back up a growing problem,” the judges wrote. Other firsts included business section, Overview; editorial cartoon, Joe Marshall; and for portrait photo and for spot new video by Earl Brechlin.

The Islander’s mobile app shared first places with The Ellsworth American for mobile application design and overall mobile application.

Islander columnist Jill Goldthwait of Bar Harbor took first place for political columnist in the large weekly newspaper division. “Takes a tough, and well-reinforced slam against legislator’s ignoring the state’s right-to-know law,” the judges wrote.

The Islander also won second-place awards for right-to-know, for editorials by Hugh Bowden and Earl Brechlin. The judges wrote, “The Islander showed a pattern of right-to-know advocacy in its news coverage and editorials … this paper shows its readers the value of open government.” A second place for investigative reporting went to Dick Broom. “A quick-hit investigation turns up key information,” the judges wrote. The paper also won second-place awards for sports section; arts and entertainment section; and spot news photo by Earl Brechlin. Sports reporter Taylor Bigler won a sports writing second place for the American.

Third-place editorial awards included sports story, Amanat Khullar; spot news story, Mark Good; transportation reporting, Dick Broom; general news photo, Dick Broom; and news feature photo, Earl Brechlin.

Advertising awards included a second place for local color display ad and third places for automotive display ad, real estate display ad, most creative use of small print space and subscription sales promotion.

The Islander has placed in the small weekly general excellence division for all of New England in each of the last 12 years. It has won the category on five previous occasions, the most recent in 2012.

The Islander’s sister paper, The Ellsworth American, won a total of 28 NENPA awards, including 16 first places for journalistic, photographic, digital and advertising excellence on Saturday in the large weekly paper division.