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.