MTM hires two

Maine Today Media recently announced two new addition to their team

Shamus Alley
Shamus Alley

Shamus Alley joined the web development team earlier this month as the Director of Digital Design, replacing Peter Vachon. A graduate of the Maine College of Art, Shamus is a skilled artist, interactive web designer and web developer. He’s managed his own design firm and worked with clients such as Allagash Brewing, Pierce Promotions and Kate Lowry Designs. Shamus has experience in digital agencies, with roles such as creative director, front end developer and art director. He was a staff writer/interactive creative director for Rescue Magazine and most recently was a front end developer/designer for Page One web solutions.

Jason Pafundi
Jason Pafundi

Jason Pafundi joins the Kennebec Journal news team as a reporter, replacing Paul Koenig. Jason has several years’ experience in news and media; freelancing as a sports writer for the St. Pete Times, reporter for the Queens Tribute (Australian publication), was a media relations associate for the New York Rangers, and most recently was a reporter for the Daily Journal corporation in L.A. Jason had been doing some freelancing for the Press Herald before being hired at the KJ. Jason holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Analysis category contest results found


After giving up hope and writing this category off as a loss, the judge finally came through. Congratulations to the winners. See results and judges comments below.

Category: Analysis-Daily/Weekend

1st – Maine Sunday Telegram: “Tax relief scarce in school consolidations”

Comments: A very impressive – and thorough – analysis piece which looks at the state’s consolidation issue – and history. All the angles were covered here. The chart and timeline were added pluses. I also liked that there was no determination of positive or negatives – just data and experiences.

2nd – Morning Sentinel: “Ayla Reynolds Case: Three Years Later”

Comments: This piece was gripping and walked readers through the entire case, including sidebars of all the people involved in the tragedy. The map and extensive – full page! – timeline was very comprehensive.

3rd – Sun Journal: “Out-of-Control Kids”

Comments: This is a solid offering about a complicated issue facing schools, parents, and clinicians today. The writer spent worthwhile time building – and sharing – the complicated health crisis with readers. It’s always good to add resource info, too.

Category: Analysis-Weekly 1

1st – The Camden Herald: “Family Asks ‘what-if’ in pharmacy robbery”

Comments: A very good piece by the writer. It’s clear he spent time with the family and police reports to tell the story. Quite heartbreaking, actually.

2nd – The Weekly Packet: “Is downtown Blue Hill dying – or just changing?”

Comments: While the question never really gets answered, a lot of folks in town had stuff to say about their community’s main drag. The writer touches all the bases in this piece.

3rd – York County Coast Star: “Worker visas move forward”

Comments: A nice overview of how vital foreign workers are to the tourism trade in the region. Nice job!

Category: Analysis-Weekly 2

1st – “The ‘gatekeepers’: Ten wealthy Mainers giving $3.95 million to this election”

Comments: A great team effort here looking at the top political donors in the state. Exhaustingly researched and compiled. More news orgs should really put the time and effort into sharing this information so that their readers know who is pulling the political purse strings.

2nd – Pen Bay Pilot: “In aftermath of Rite Aid standoff and death, Camden Police investigate gun history”

Comments: A thorough overview of a terrible tragedy all around. The writer was able to look at some different angles with the story which gave it solid footing and reader insight.

3rd – The Courier-Gazette: “Our new generation of veterans”

Comments: A very good piece, with heart and insight, from those who have served in the modern era. The reporter clearly was able to gain the comfort of the sources which is not an easy task.

Maine Today Media hires four

Melanie Sochan Lawlor
Melanie Sochan Lawlor

Melanie Sochan Lawlor joins the marketing team as a part time creative services photographer. Melanie has many years’ experience as a professional photographer. She was a staff photographer at the Tribune Chronicle in Ohio and Saginaw News in Michigan. Since coming to the east coast, Melanie has been a self-employed, owning her own photography business.

Sam Bonsey
Sam Bonsey

Sam Bonsey joins the Portland newsroom as a part time news clerk. Sam is a recent graduate from the University of Maine-Orono, obtaining his bachelor’s degree in journalism. Sam was an intern with the sports staff at the BDN.

Gina Johnson joins the South Portland distribution team as a part time distribution assistant and Michael Hodgkin joins the South Portland circulation team as a part time field services representative.

(sorry, no pictures of Gina and Michael available.)

Fall Conference Recap

See you next October at the Double-Tree Hotel in South Portland.

Thanks to everyone who attended the Annual Fall Conference on October 17 in Bangor. We were pleased to host 75 attendees at the 2015 Hall of Fame Induction, and 145 MPA members and guests at the Awards Dinner & Banquet.

From engaging sessions, moving Hall of Fame induction speeches to the MPA singalong, surprised Unsung Hero award recipients, and the return of the newspaper entry display boards, 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 South Portland, 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

Analysis category lost for good

Unfortunately, we are declaring the Analysis category — both weekly and daily categories —  permanently lost. The judge repeatedly insists he sent back the winners but we received no notifications in any form. We understand this is extremely disappointing to everyone who entered and we share in your frustration. With the volume of categories to be judged and the numerous volunteer judges enlisted, we routinely face the loss of a few categories every year.

Thank you for your continued support of the Maine Press Association and the yearly contest.

2015 MPA Contest Winners

Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard carries a young girl who survived the crash when the vehicle in which she and three other children and an adult driver were riding slid off Norridgewock Road in Skowhegan and went down a ravine and struck a tree in January 2015. The photo won first place for a spot news photo in the Maine Press Association’s 2015 contest. Morning Sentinel Staff photo by David Leaming

Here are the winners of the 2015 MPA Better Newspaper Contest’s missing  Weekly News Story category, which was received after the Conference:

1st place: Dan Dunkle, The Courier-Gazette: “Memory of horrific fire haunts local friends, family”

2nd place: Susan Morse & Deborah McDermott, The York Weekly: “‘We were very lucky’: Microburst damage leaves residents busy but thankful,” “Town waiting to release funds”

3rd place: Dominik Lobkowicz, The Lincoln County News: “Owner of Jefferson property where body was found saw ‘red flags””
See all the 2015 Contest Winners.

Portland Press Herald, Republican Journal and Mount Desert Islander among MPA winners

BANGOR – The Portland Press Herald, The Republican Journal of Belfast, the Mount Desert Islander of Bar Harbor and the Maine Sunday Telegram have been honored by the Maine Press Association for General Excellence print newspapers.

The Bangor Daily News, the Camden Herald/Republican Journal and the Mount Desert Islander took top honors for digital General Excellence in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were presented Saturday night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor, 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: Lou Ureneck, former executive editor of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram; Bob Kalish, who wrote for national publications and The Times Record in Brunswick; and longtime Press Herald/Telegram columnist Bill Nemitz.

In the General Excellence competition for print newspapers, the Press Herald was judged the best daily in Maine for the third year in a row while the Telegram was the weekend Newspaper of the Year for the fifth time in six years. The contest judge wrote, “They are far and away the best paper(s) in Maine. They are solid professional newspapers of substance, initiative, energy and readability.”

In the Weekly 1 division, for newspapers with less than 4,000 print circulation, The Republican Journal was described as having a “clean design and nice mix of hard news and features.” The Weekly 2 winner, the Mount Desert Islander, was applauded for its “wide-ranging, eclectic and thorough coverage of community.”

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

The digital General Excellence winner among daily/weekend papers, the Bangor Daily News, was lauded for “featuring an attractive, understated presentation. Frequent updating with fresh news. Easily identifiable points for reader interaction, including news tips, polls and quizzes, and judicious use of video.”

The Weekly 1 winners, The Camden Herald & The Republican Journal, were commended by judges for “doing a fine job of placing fresh news in front of readers who don’t want to wait for the print edition.”

Judges praised the Weekly 2 winner, Mount Desert Islander, for providing a “beautiful, news-forward presentation. Easily navigated. Plenty of fresh content for readers.”

The Advertiser-Democrat of Oxford County won the Freedom of Information first-place award in the weekly category, while the Portland Press Herald took top honors in the daily/weekend division.

The Journalist of the Year award went to Scott Dolan of the Portland Press Herald; the Advertising Person of the Year is Barbara Hendsbee of the Press Herald.

Christopher Crosby, formerly of the Sun Journal in Lewiston, won the Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award; and Bridget Campbell of the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel, Melanie Creamer of the Portland Press Herald, and Kathy Lizotte of The Lincoln County News were honored by the MPA as the Unsung Heroes of the Year.

A complete list of 2015 award winners will be posted this week on the MPA’s website:

MPA Annual Fall Conference is Saturday, October 17, 2015

We’re looking forward to seeing MPA members and guests at the MPA Annual Fall Conference on Saturday, October 17, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor.

The day’s events kick off at 8:45 am with the Annual Business Meeting. Morning sessions will run from 9:15 am to 12:15 pm followed by The Hall of Fame Luncheon at 12:30 pm, and our last session of the day slated at 2:15 pm. Bring your bidding paddle to the ever-popular Scholarship Auction & Reception at 5:30 pm followed by the 2015 Better Newspaper Contest Awards Dinner and Banquet.

The MPA has a special group rate of $149 a night, good for the nights of October 16 and 17 at The Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor. Although the room reservation deadline has passed, you can check with the hotel at 207-262-0099 to see if they still have availability.

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 Sportswriter. 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.
Those interested should submit a resume, cover letter
and three writing samples to Sports Editor Bob Conn

Maine Press Association to induct three into Hall of Fame

BANGOR — The Maine Press Association will induct three new members into its Hall of Fame at its annual meeting and conference, set for Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Inductees include Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram writer and columnist Bill Nemitz, Bob Kalish, formerly of The Times Record in Brunswick, and Lou Ureneck, who’s career included stints with the Press Herald, and the Evening Express in Portland and with the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Both Nemitz and Ureneck have previously been honored by MPA as Maine’s Journalist of the Year.

Bob Kalish
Bob Kalish

Kalish’s career included covering Hollywood for Daily Variety, serving as a war correspondent in Thailand during Vietnam, and working in television and radio in Chicago. At the Record, he drove hard-hitting coverage of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant and the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Along the way he mentored multiple generations of young journalists including several that went to earn key journalism fellowships or be honored as Journalist of the Year.

In retirement, he continues to write for newspapers including essays published in The Boston Globe.

Bill Nemitz
Bill Nemitz

Bill Nemitz began his career in Maine journalism in 1977 as a reporter for the Morning Sentinel in Waterville. He moved to Portland in 1983, working as a reporter for the Evening Express before moving up to positions as city editor and sports editor for the Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram. A past president of MPA, Nemitz began writing a column that made him one of Maine’s best-known journalists in 1995.

He reported from Northern Ireland at the end of the Troubles, from Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11, from the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, from Haiti after its destructive earthquake and from Boston in the hours after the marathon bombing.

Four times, Nemitz went to the Middle East and embedded with members of the Maine Army National Guard.

Lou Ureneck
Lou Ureneck

A native of New Jersey and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Lou Ureneck got his feet wet during a brief stint at the Providence Journal before coming to Maine in 1974 to begin his career at the Gannett Papers in Portland, including the Press Herald, the Evening Express and the Maine Sunday Telegram.

After leaving Maine in the mid-90s, Ureneck became editor-in-residence at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard and served as page-one editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer before becoming a professor at the Boston University’s School of Journalism.

Ureneck has written three books, including a memoir about building a cabin in the Maine wilderness. His latest book, “The Great Fire,” is an account of the post-World War I destruction of the Turkish city of Smyrna and the systematic killing of 3 million Christians.

The official Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at a luncheon during the conference on Oct. 17 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are available by contacting MPA Executive Director Diane Norton at or call 207-691-0131.