Three new members will enter the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame on October 22. Earl Brechlin and Chris and Paula Roberts have been selected by the MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee and will be inducted during the luncheon at this year’s Fall Conference.
Earl Brechlin had a distinguished career in Maine journalism that began in 1977 at the Bar Harbor Times. Brechlin got his start in the job shop hand-setting lead type. From there he went to the production darkroom, taking photos and writing a photo column. In 1981 he joined the newsroom staff as a reporter and was promoted to editor in 1983. Under his leadership the Times consistently earned general excellence press awards in Maine and New England.
In 2001 Brechlin, along with Ellsworth American publisher Alan Baker, founded a new, locally owned weekly newspaper on Mount Desert. With no reporters, no staff, no name and no design, the two got to work and the first edition of the Mount Desert Islander rolled off the presses six weeks later on November 15, 2001.
Under Brechlin’s leadership, the Islander earned first place among Maine small weeklies 12 out of its first 13 years, best in New England for several years and was honored by a first-place award from the National Newspaper Association.
Since 1981 Brechlin has been a member of the Maine Press Association in some form. He served as the association’s president four times along with 17 years on the board. In 1997 he was named Maine Journalist of the Year for a series of articles on financial improprieties at a local bank.
Earl retired from journalism in 2017, but only after receiving more than 150 individual awards for writing, photography, layout, news, featured videos and Freedom of Information.
Earl is a registered Maine Guide, the author of more than a dozen books on the outdoors and history of Maine and New England.
Chris and Paula Roberts
Christopher A. Roberts began life with ink in his veins, being born into the family business of running The Lincoln County News. As many children involved with family-run businesses, he was always at the shop, helping with operations as early as he was able.
While he always worked in some capacity at the paper, he started his career after graduating from the University of Maine, at the end of 1977. Over the 44-plus years, he would go on to lead the paper and make a huge impact on the company and the community it serves.
Paula Flagg met Chris while in high school at Lincoln Academy and they became sweethearts. They were engaged in 1977 and married on Nov. 25, 1978. Before Paula began her full-time career at the newspaper, she worked as a physical education teacher and raised two sons. She joined the staff part time in 1981 and became a full-time sports reporter in 1993.
Paula remains the newspaper’s sports reporter and photographer. She logs tens of thousands of miles a year as she crisscrosses the state to cover sports, mostly at the high school level. She routinely covers several games at different schools in the same evening. She has won awards for her photography and writing in the Maine Press Association Better Newspaper Contest, including first place for Sports Photo in three of the last seven years.
Today, Chris is publisher of The Lincoln County News and president of Lincoln County Publishing Co., the newspaper’s parent company. He represents the fourth generation of the Erskine-Roberts family to own and publish The Lincoln County News. His great-grandfather, Samuel H. Erskine, published his first edition of the newspaper Dec. 9, 1920. He took over this role in 1992 from his father, Samuel E. Roberts.
Chris has overseen many changes during his time as publisher. The company upgraded its newspaper press in 2000, 2004 and in 2017 to allow for more color to flow onto its pages and has always ensured that production of the newspaper has been at the cutting edge. He has overseen the newspaper’s advancement into the digital age with a series of websites, the latest of which launched in 2016 and won first place in the 2018 Maine Press Association contest. He has also invested in new publications, like Lincoln County Magazine — another award-winning product now in its 18th year.
In addition to this year’s slate of inductees, we will also honor last year’s inductees–Dorothy “Dot” Roderick, Dieter Bradbury and Judy Meyer—who were unable to be recognized in-person after that portion of the conference was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Roderick, who will enter posthumously, was one of the first women advertising executives in the newspaper industry. Roderick worked 43 years for Gannett, starting in 1937 with the Central Maine Morning Sentinel and then transferring to Portland in 1940 to work for The Portland Press Herald, Evening Express and Sunday Telegram. Dot retired in 1980 from Gannett’s Portland newspapers and died on March 1, 2020, at the age of 101.
Bradbury, who retired from the Portland Press Herald last year, was hired part-time in 1980 for the Portland Press Herald’s afternoon paper, the Evening Express. Two years later, he became a full-time reporter for the Press Herald, covering the night cops beat and later was the environment reporter. For the last 10 years of his career, Bradbury directed the State House, political and election coverage and he shepherded some of the Herald’s top projects during his time as deputy managing editor.
Meyer began working for the Sun Journal as a freelancer out of the Norway (Maine) bureau, where she covered local selectmen’s meetings and breaking news in nearby towns. In 1996, she was hired full-time to run that bureau, and from there she rose swiftly through the ranks of one of the largest daily newspapers in Maine. Today, Meyer is responsible for overseeing the Sun Journal, the third-largest daily newspaper in Maine, as well as at a half-dozen weekly newspapers spread throughout Sun Media’s western Maine coverage area. She also serves as executive editor of the central Maine dailies: Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal.
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 http://mainepressassociation.org/hall-of-fame/.
Tickets to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which takes place during the luncheon, are available by contacting MPA Executive Director Diane Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 691-0131.