All posts by Troy R. Bennett

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 Secretary of State’s office seeks help for student mock elections

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 3.08.01 PM

Greetings, esteemed members of the Maine media:

In this high-profile election year, we at the Secretary of State’s office are beginning to discuss plans for this year’s Student Mock Election and are mulling a “media in politics” theme for the event.

We are looking for partners in this effort, so if you have any ideas or resources that relate to the political process and the media’s role, that would be great to share.

We also know that transportation to the event (which takes place in Augusta) can be a significant barrier for schools, so we are asking media outlets statewide to consider a contest or other sort of sponsorship promotion that would award a school group by covering the costs for them to attend the Mock Election.

This bi-annual event covers elementary through high school and we’re just starting to nail down the details and brainstorm great ideas for activities that will get Maine youth excited about voting. Thank you for your consideration and I hope to follow up with you soon to discuss some ideas if your media outlet is interested in participating.


Kristen Schulze Muszynski

Director of Communications

Department of the Secretary of State

148 State House Station

Augusta, ME 04333

Office: 207-626-8404

Cell: 207-441-7638

Rhoades to retire from Sun Journal

Rex Rhoades

LEWISTON — Rex Rhoades, the executive editor of the Sun Journal, will retire from his position on April 1 after 40 years in the newspaper business. About half of that career was spent as executive editor of the Lewiston paper.

The Costello family, who owns the newspaper, has named Managing Editor Judith Meyer as the new executive editor.

“I have had the good fortune of working at four newspapers in four states, and I owe much to my wife, Luanne, who never said ‘no’ and who always made a better life for our family, and a better career for herself, in each new place,” Rhoades said. READ MORE

Press Herald’s Mike Lowe named Maine Sportswriter of the Year

Mike Lowe

Mike Lowe, a staff writer with the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, has been named Maine Sportswriter of the Year for 2015 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

It marks the second consecutive year a Press Herald reporter has won the honor. Last year, Mark Emmert was named Maine Sportswriter of the Year. He and Lowe were the two finalists for the award in 2015.

Lowe, who has worked for the Press Herald since 1982, was selected for the honor through a nomination and balloting process among NSSA members. He covers the New England Patriots, along with high school and college sports.

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.