The Maine Press Association has held a Spring Conference at the Augusta Civic Center for several years, usually tied in with a legislative theme. We’ve had numerous high-profile guest speakers including political analyst-author Chris Potholm and Governors John Baldacci and Angus King.
But times have changed. Newspaper staffs are smaller, and many editors and publishers usually can’t afford to take a half-day or more off to attend a conference.
Your priorities are also quite different. One common theme seems to be the need for affordable training, especially for entry-level reporters and even some seasoned veterans who would like to brush up on their skills.
So we’re coming to you – in at least two locations.
The MPA will host writer’s workshops on Friday, April 8 at the Times-Record in Brunswick and on Thursday, April 22 at the Bangor Daily News in Bangor. Each will run from 9 a.m. to approximately 12:30 p.m., and the cost of $25 per person will include lunch. A third workshop will be held in Aroostook County later in the summer.
The exact format and the presenters will be announced in future issues.
MaineToday Media has sent reporter Matt Wickenheiser and photographer Gregory Rec to Haiti to chronicle the efforts of Kate Nickerson of Portland and other Mainers. They will be filing stories online and in print and using Twitter to tell our readers and followers what it’s like to be there and what it means to help strangers in desperate need of assistance. Follow the TEAM’s Twitter reports: @MWickenheiser or @pressherald.
Ethan Wilensky-Lanford of Mount Desert Island has been hired as the second State House reporter for MaineToday Media, joining veteran correspondent and columnist Susan Cover.
Wilensky-Lanford worked for the New York Times and covered domestic issues as well as stories from the troubled regions of Central Asia, according to MTM Chief Executive Office Richard L. Connor. Wilensky-Lanford was previously employed by the Concord Monitor in Concord, N.H. and also worked as a reporter in Moscow, Russia, covering the oil and gas industries.
Cover has been reporting from the State House for more than seven years.
Connor also said he would like to open a MaineToday Media Inc. bureau in Washington D.C. and candidates for the position are being interviewed.
The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting (MCPIR) released its first story last week, which was published in the Bangor Daily News, the Lewiston Sun Journal, The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.
The story was researched and written by center founder John Christie, former publisher of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel and a 40-year veteran of the newspaper business.
“At a time when newsrooms are shrinking and the ability of traditional media outlets to conduct in-depth investigations is diminished, the goal of the center is to help inform Maine citizens about the actions of their government and the state’s public servants,” said Christie.
The story examined the role of money, influence and personal relationships in Gov. John Baldacci’s handling of tax reform legislation in 2009.
MCPIR will be incorporated as a non-profit and will be funded by foundations and donors, according to Christie. It is non-partisan and unaffiliated with any interest groups. “I hope readers of the center’s first story will get a better understanding of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that favored some interests but not others in an issue as vital to Maine citizens as they way they are taxed,” he added.
Christie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (207) 458-2023.
Corinna native William “Bill” Pearson has been hired as a staff reporter for the Piscataquis Observer, covering county government, Dexter, Guilford, Sangerville and School Administrative Districts 4 and 46 as a general assignment reporter.
He comes to the Dover-Foxcroft-based weekly after two years as a reporter for the Sebasticook Valley Weekly where he covered Newport, Dexter and the local school boards.
“My ambition is to work and live in the Penquis Valley as a newspaper reporter. I have strong roots in the community which is a major asset in developing sources for news and sports,” said Pearson.
Pearson, 43, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maine at Orono and attended the Young Writer’s Conference sponsored by the Hartford Courant in 1997.
A 1984 Nokomis Regional High School graduate, he has also reported for the Calais Advertiser and WDME radio.
“The Piscataquis Observer has an excellent reputation and my experience, education and writing ability make me an ideal fit,” Pearson said.
Pearson joins veteran reporter Stu Hedstrom at the newspaper to cover news and sports in the Penquis region.
Brunswick native Samuel J. Baldwin has been hired as a staff reporter for the Lincoln County News, covering Waldoboro, Jefferson Somerville, Nobleboro and Bremen as a general assignment reporter.
He comes to the LCN after a brief stint as an outdoors writer at the Casper Star-Tribune in Casper, Wyo. He covered hunting and fishing, as well as some health, home and garden and entertainment stories.
“I’m glad to be back in Maine, and you can only write about archery and fly fishing for so long before you miss telling readers about issues that really matter,” Baldwin told the weekly newspaper.
Baldwin is currently living in Brunswick, but said that he hopes to move to Lincoln County with his fiancée soon.
“There are a lot of beautiful areas up here, and it seems like a place where people have a stake in what their neighbors do,” Baldwin said. “Any good leads on rentals would definitely be appreciated.”
Baldwin graduated with a journalism degree from Arizona State University in Phoenix, Ariz., in May.
“After writing in Phoenix and Casper, working for the LCN will be a very welcome change,” he said. “It’s definitely small-town politics; and to me, that means politics where even the politicians care what happens. I’m looking forward to finding out what people here need to know and trying to give that to them.”
Eugene M. “Gene” Townsend, the co-publisher of the Machias Valley News Observer, died at a Bangor hospital on Friday, Dec. 18. He was 89.
Gene Townsend was a lifelong resident of Calais and once worked as the sales manager for WQDY in his hometown.
Townsend and his friend, Jay Hinson, purchased the Machias Valley News Observer in 1967 and Townsend also worked as the advertising manager for the weekly for 42 years.
In 2006 their wives, Patricia Townsend and Karen Hinson became partners in the company.
In his early years, Townsend served in the U.S. Army Air Corps at the outbreak of World War II with tours of duty in England, North Africa and Italy.
While working as a B-17 engineer, his artistic talents were soon discovered and he was enlisted to put the names and art work, known as “nose art,” on many of his squadron aircraft. Several Web sites featuring much of his work have been created by military historians.
Townsend was a past president of the Calais Lions Club, a member of the Frontier Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Baileyville and a life member of Sherman Brothers American Legion Post No. 3 in Calais.
A celebration of his life was held on Dec. 22 at Calais United Methodist Church Condolences and memories may be shared at www.maysfuneralhome.com.
Welcome to the new Maine Press Association Web site.
We’re in the early stages of the transition right now, but please be patient. We’re experimenting with different page themes, links, pages, feeds, etc.
We’ll have links to our member newspapers, a classified section, industry news, obituaries, a Freedom of Access link and much more.
Eventually we hope to have some slide shows and videos of our major events and activities.
We’re also in the process of moving our archives to the new site from now until Jan. 1. But don’t worry. We won’t be taking the www.mpa.org site down until we’re 100 percent sure that our new “home” is operating smoothly.
Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the new site, and don’t hesitate to drop us a note if you have any comments – good and bad.
Mike Lange, Executive Director