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.

Glenn R. Turner Obituary

Glenn Turner

GLENN R. TURNER   1949 – 2016

CHINA – Glenn R. Turner of China, former reporter and editor at the Morning Sentinel who spearheaded the newspaper’s transition to digital layout in the late 1980s, died Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, after a hard-fought battle with lung cancer, at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta. He was 67.
Glenn was born March 4, 1949, in Waterville, the son of Richard M. Turner and Beverly J. (Tapley) Turner. He graduated from Waterville Senior High School in 1967 and from the University of Maine, Orono, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology, in 1971. He met his future wife, Kathaleen Ladd, while they both were working at the Holiday Inn in Waterville. They married on Feb. 24, 1973, and had two daughters.
Glenn started working at the Central Maine Morning Sentinel as a proofreader on March 25, 1973. He was quickly promoted to reporter, where he showed an innate ability to capture the essence of whatever he was covering. At weekly staff meetings, Glenn’s organizational skills became evident and he soon was known for his pie charts and graphs. Then-city editor Kenneth J. Morton was heard on more than one occasion to refer to Glenn as a “born newspaperman.”
He was promoted from reporter to various positions at the newspaper, including state editor, city editor, managing editor for operations, news projects manager and web and special projects editor. The multiple roles required integration of journalism, editing, technical, Web, budgetary and staff management skills and encompassed two production sites in Waterville and at the newspaper’s sister paper, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta.
Glenn was president of the Maine Press Association from 1993 to 1994 and treasurer and a member of the board of directors from 1994 to 2000. He served on the board of directors of United Way of Mid-Maine from 2000 to 2003. He retired from the newspapers in 2010 at 62, but continued to manage online weekly newspapers and worked for the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce in Waterville.
Glenn devotedly cared for his wife, Kathaleen, as she battled multiple sclerosis until her death in 2011.
At the time of his death, he was living with his longtime, loving partner, Susan A. Strasburg, in China.
In addition to Strasburg, he is survived by her son, Zachary T. Walter and his wife, April Snow, and their son, Brogan J. Walter; a brother, Timothy S. Turner and wife Cathy; daughter, Kristin L. Cronkite and husband, Jerod, their daughter, Maddison, and son, Jeremy and his wife Mckenzie and their son, Griffin; daughter, Melanie L. Sweet and husband, Chris, their son Isaac, their daughters Alexia Sweet and Baylie Dalton; nephews, Timothy Turner and wife Audra and their children Cayden and Autum, Robert Turner and wife Hillary and their children Addison and Rosalyn, Brooks Ladd and his wife Rebecca and their children Mathew and Nathan, Spencer Ladd and wife Li and their children Roland and Mackenzie; Arthur Ladd and his wife Shelby.
Glenn also was predeceased by his mother, Beverly J. Turner; father, Richard M. Turner; and wife, Kathaleen L. Turner.
The family would like to thank all the staff of MaineGeneral Medical Center, MaineGeneral Hospice, Hospice Care and the Alfond Cancer Center, for all their help and kindness.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Lawry Brothers Funeral Home, Main Street, Fairfield. Friends and family are encouraged and welcome to participate, with a luncheon to follow immediately at the Waterville Elks Lodge.

In lieu of flowers,
donations may be made to the
Humane Society Waterville Area

Funeral Home
Fairfield, ME 04937
(207) 453-6049


MPA Annual Fall Conference Recap

Thanks to everyone who attended the Annual Fall Conference on October 29 in South Portland. We were pleased to host over 100 attendees at the 2016 Hall of Fame Induction, and 175 MPA members and guests at the Awards Dinner & Banquet.

From engaging sessions and a terrific Hall of Fame Induction to the successful Scholarship Auction & Reception, MPA Sing-along, Contest awards, and moving Journalist of the Year presentation, this year’s conference had something for everyone.

Now that it’s done and we begin to look ahead to next year’s Conference in Bar Harbor, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us what you liked, or what you didn’t like; what worked well, or what could be improved upon; what was missing, or what you’d like to see dropped completely.

Send your raves, your rants, your suggestions or feedback to Diane Norton, MPA Executive Director at

Bangor Daily News, Mount Desert Islander and The Courier-Gazette among MPA winners

SOUTH PORTLAND, October 30, 2016 – The Bangor Daily News, the Mount Desert Islander of Bar Harbor, The Courier-Gazette of Rockland and the Maine Sunday Telegram have been honored by the Maine Press Association for General Excellence in print newspapers.

The Bangor Daily News and the Boothbay Register took top honors for digital General Excellence in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were presented Saturday night at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in South Portland, concluding a day of workshops for journalists, advertising staff and newsroom managers throughout the state.

Earlier in the day, the association inducted three new members to its Hall of Fame: Rex Rhoades, former executive editor of the Sun Journal in Lewiston; Steve Solloway, sports columnist for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram for 25 years; and Hugh Bowden, retired editor, editorial and sports writer, and executive editor of The Ellsworth American.

In the General Excellence competition for print newspapers, the Bangor Daily News was judged the best daily in Maine while the Maine Sunday Telegram was the weekend Newspaper of the Year for the sixth time in seven years.

The contest judge wrote of the Bangor Daily News, “This is a great local paper that serves the public with excellence” while declaring the Maine Sunday Telegram, “is a great example of a newspaper that still provides its readers with a mountain of excellent content.”

In the Weekly 1 division, for newspapers with less than 4,000 print circulation, the Mount Desert Islander was described as having “an interesting mix of news; special sections are interesting and filled with local content — a refreshing change from most markets” while the Weekly 2 winner, The Courier-Gazette, was lauded for its “coherent design, good use of color, very newsy” content.

The Mount Desert Islander has been named Newspaper of the Year 10 times since 2006 – six times in the Weekly 1 division and four straight years in Weekly 2 (4,000 and over circulation).

The General Excellence winner for websites among daily/weekend papers, the Bangor Daily News, was cited for having “the most interesting digital offering of all Maine’s papers. BDN’s forays into video complement what is strong and fluid state house coverage that serves its region well.”

Judges praised the weekly division winner, the Boothbay Register, explaining “A small and local publication is going to do best when it foregrounds information that others don’t provide. Local minutiae is what a community audience wants and I was able to find it immediately upon getting to the Register’s site.”

The Mount Desert Islander won the Freedom of Information first-place award in the weekly category, while the Sun Journal took top honors in the daily/weekend division.

Erin Rhoda of the Bangor Daily News was named the Journalist of the Year while Jean Berg of the Portland Press Herald was the Advertising Person of the Year.

Abigail W. Adams of the Lincoln County News won the Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award, and Jeanne Luetjen was honored by the MPA as the Unsung Hero of the Year.

A complete list of 2016 award winners will be posted in the coming week on the MPA’s website:

MPA Annual Fall Conference is Saturday

We’re looking forward to seeing MPA members and guests at the MPA Annual Fall Conference on Saturday, October 29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at 363 Maine Mall Road, South Portland.

MPA Members are welcome to attend the Annual Business Meeting at 8:30 a.m. Come hear about the year’s accomplishments, the financial state of the association, and take part in the election of officers and board members for the coming year.

Morning sessions will run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. followed by the Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon at 12:30 p.m., and one afternoon session slated at 2:30 p.m.

The ever-engaging Scholarship Auction & Reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the 2016 Better Newspaper Contest Awards Dinner and Banquet.

MPA Annual Fall Conference Schedule of Events

A full day of events is planned for the MPA Annual Fall Conference on October 29, 2016, at the DoubleTree by Hilton at 363 Maine Mall Road, South Portland, including informative sessions, the Hall of Fame Inductee Luncheon, annual Scholarship Auction, and The 2016 Better Newspaper Contest Awards Dinner & Banquet.

The day kicks off at 8:30 with the Annual Business Meeting. Morning sessions will run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. followed by the Hall of Fame Luncheon at 12:30 p.m., and one afternoon session slated at 2:30 p.m.

The ever-engaging Scholarship Auction & Reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the 2016 Better Newspaper Contest Awards Dinner and Banquet.

We’ve negotiated a very attractive hotel rate of $107/night for MPA members and guests at DoubleTree by Hilton Portland, good for the nights of October 28 and 29. The deadline for room reservations at the $107/night rate was October 12; please call the hotel directly at 775-6161 (and ask for the Maine Press Association group rate, using group code MEP) to check on availability after the reservation deadline.

The Conference registration deadline was October 10. For further information about the conference or registration, please check with MPA Executive Director Diane Norton at or via phone at 691-0131.

2016 MPA conference registration open

 2016 MPA Fall Conference

Saturday, October 29
DoubleTree by Hilton Portland
363 Maine Mall Road, South Portland
Across from the Maine Mall


– No registration fee for Hall of Fame members or guests.

– Registration fee covers continental breakfast, all workshops and Scholarship Auction.

– Room reservations must be made through DoubleTree by Hilton Portland. To make reservations, click on over to and use the Group Code MEP to take advantage of our exclusive rate of $107. You can also call the hotel directly at 207-775-6161 and ask for the MPA Group Rate (using code MEP).

– Room availability cannot be guaranteed after Wed., October 12.

– Deadline for Conference Registration is Monday, October 10. You can also call the hotel directly at 207-775-6161 and ask for the MPA Group Rate (using code MEP).

Maine Press Association to induct three into Hall of Fame


Rhoades mug    Bowden mug    Solloway

Three journalists whose service to the state’s newspapers totals more than 110 years will enter the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame next month.

Rex Rhoades, Steve Solloway and Hugh Bowden will be inducted Oct. 29 at a luncheon during the MPA’s annual Fall Conference at the DoubleTree hotel in South Portland. The three were nominated by colleagues and selected by the MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee.

Rhoades retired in April after 19 years as executive editor of the Sun Journal in Lewiston and a total of four decades in journalism. Under his leadership, the Sun Journal was the MPA’s Daily Newspaper of the Year five times and Weekend Newspaper of the Year eight times.

Rhoades was named the MPA’s Journalist of the Year in 1999 and served as its president in 2002-03, leading the association’s push for reforms to the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

Solloway was one of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram’s best-known writers for his 25 years as a sports columnist. He came to Maine in 1975 to be sports editor of the Kennebec Journal for nine years. He joined the Portland newspapers in 1984, reporting and commenting on sports in the Central Maine area for the Maine Sunday Telegram. In 1990, then sports editor Bill Nemitz asked Solloway to write his first sports column.

A true storyteller, Solloway covered many of Maine’s biggest sporting events and personalities over four decades, including the University of Maine’s national hockey championships and the Lawrence High School basketball star Cindy Blodgett.

Bowden retired in August after a career in Down East Maine newspapers that spanned more than 50 years, starting in 1964 at The Weekly Packet in Blue Hill. He filled many roles, as an editor, an editorial and sports writer and a mentor to many journalists who worked with him.

Bowden was executive editor of The Ellsworth American from 1989 to 2015, years when the American won multiple Newspaper of the Year honors from the MPA, and was president of the MPA in 1972-73.

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 Annual Fall Conference is October 29 in South Portland

The Maine Press Association’s Annual Fall Conference will be held this year on October 29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton at 363 Maine Mall Road, South Portland. A full day of conference events is planned including the Hall of Fame Inductee Luncheon, annual Scholarship Auction, and The 2016 Better Newspaper Contest Awards Dinner & Banquet.

And what about those awards? Judges have been mindful of last week’s deadline for decisions and comments, and have been overwhelming the MPA Office with packages, decisions and wonderful comments. Here’s a snippet of what the judge of Feature Story—Daily Weekend had to say, This was one of the best categories of a contest which I’ve ever reviewed…. The readers of Maine’s newspapers should be proud to have such commitment to good journalism presented to them by all of these newspapers.”

We hope to have the majority of decisions sorted, reviewed and ready to share with members by mid-September. In the meantime, be on the lookout for registration/hotel reservation information as well as details about this year’s program and sessions.