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MPA Board backs bill to help local news operations 

The Maine Press Association board has voted to support the “Local Journalism Sustainability Act’’ that is pending in Congress.

The bill is meant to provide newsrooms with a refundable tax credit for five years to help with their finances amid the industry’s dire financial challenges. Steven Waldman, the co-founder of Report For America, is one of the backers. The MPA’s board voted to draft a letter of support that will be sent to Maine’s congressional delegation. You can read more about the legislation here and listen to a podcast featuring Waldman here.

The Bangor Daily News, the Portland Phoenix, and The Camden Herald among MPA winners

Top left to right: Melissa Logan, Advertising Person of the Year; Steve Collins, Journalist of the Year; Sawyer Loftus, Bob Drake Young Writer of the Year; Caroline Spear, Unsung Hero of the Year.

BAR HARBOR, Maine, October 22, 2022 –The Bangor Daily News, Portland Phoenix, The Camden Herald, and the Maine Sunday Telegram have been honored by the Maine Press Association (MPA) for General Excellence in print newspapers.

The Portland Press Herald, Boothbay Register, and The Camden Herald took top honors for digital General Excellence in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were presented Saturday night at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center, in Bar Harbor, concluding a day of programming and networking for reporters, photographers, journalists, advertising staff, and designers throughout the state.

Longtime distinguished journalist Earl Brechlin (The Bar Harbor Times & Mount Desert Islander), and fourth generation The Lincoln County News owner and publisher Chris Roberts and his wife Paula Roberts, the paper’s sports reporter and photographer, were selected by the MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee as the 2022 inductees.

2021 Inductees Dorothy “Dot” Roderick, Dieter Bradbury, and Judy Meyer (Top right w/Steve Collins) were also honored at Saturday’s Induction Luncheon.

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 12th time in 13 years.

The contest judges, who hailed from The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, wrote of the Bangor Daily News: “What impressed us most were the all-local front pages, all-local bylines and stories that not only report the news, but give readers insight, and context…The Daily News series ‘Unguarded’ on Maine Army National Guard and sexual misconduct was well sourced, detailed and compelling.”

“Each Sunday paper was an example of outstanding journalism that serves readers,” said the judges about the Maine Sunday Telegram. “Wonderful photography, layout, column, stories and opinion. Very clear that the goal of everyone from the top editor on down is focused on giving readers an outstanding paper. Great mix of national, regional and local news.”

In the Weekly 1 division, for newspapers with less than 2,000 print circulation, The Camden Herald took the top prize for the second consecutive year. Judges said: “This publication has the most unique and differentiating content of all newspapers reviewed…Great news judgement on the covers, from business development, important ballot information, property transactions — most all of which include imagery or photos.”

The Weekly 2 winner, the Portland Phoenix, was also a second-consecutive year winner. Judges said: “This tabloid newspaper is attractive, well-written and the design is appealing without being overtly flashy. Coverage had a comprehensive mix of government, lifestyle and features, as well as some investigative stories as well.”

Samantha Hogan and The Maine Monitor won the Freedom of Information first-place award in the Weekly division, while the staff of the Sun Journal took top honors in the Daily/Weekend division.

Steve Collins (top right), of the Sun Journal, was named the Journalist of the Year and Melissa Logan (top left), of the Sun Journal and Western Maine Weeklies, was the Advertising Person of the Year.

Sawyer Loftus (Lower left), of the Bangor Daily News, won the Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award, and Caroline Spear (Lower right), of Penobscot Bay Press, was honored by the MPA as the Unsung Hero of the Year.

A complete list of 2022 award winners will be posted later this week on the MPA’s website. (Photos by Greg Rec)

The Maine Press Association (MPA), founded in 1864, is one of the oldest professional news organizations in the nation. Learn more at www.mainepressassociation.org.

MPA Annual Conference is Saturday

We’re looking forward to seeing you Saturday, Oct. 22, for the Annual MPA Conference at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center in Bar Harbor.

A full day of events is planned, including the Annual Business Meeting at 8:45 a.m. and informative programming throughout the day.

A whopping 128 members and guests will honor our 2022 Hall of Fame Inductees (Earl Brechlin and Chris and Paula Roberts) and our 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees (“Dot” Roderick, Dieter Bradbury, and Judy Meyer).

Bring your cash to the Scholarship Auction & Reception at 5:00 p.m. led by Auctioneer Extraordinaire Aimsel Ponti and bid on a super selection of items with all proceeds benefiting the MPA Scholarship Fund.

Finally, 150 of us will celebrate the 2022 Better Newspaper Contest winners and Individual Award Winners including Journalist of the Year, Advertising Person of the Year, Bob Drake Young Writer, and Unsung Hero at this year’s Awards Dinner & Banquet at 6:30 p.m.

Masks are Welcome: With the recent surge in COVID cases, we’re encouraging those who would like to mask at the conference to do so. Everyone’s health is of the utmost importance to us and we respect members’ decisions to do whatever makes them most comfortable.

Members to vote on bylaws amendments, dues structure

Maine Press Association members will vote on amendments to the organization’s bylaws and a new dues structure during the business meeting (8:45 a.m.) at the 2022 conference.

The bylaws amendments would require “Regular Members” to follow the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics; add “advocacy newspapers/websites” to the list of organizations that can become “Associate Members”; and fold the “Affiliate” category of membership, for vendors that work with members, into the “Associate” category.

Another change involves a seat on the board set aside for an appointee of the University of Maine Department of Communication and Journalism. The amendment would open the seat to a journalism faculty member at any postsecondary institution in Maine. The membership would elect this individual, as they elect all other board members.

The new dues structure would replace an approximately 10-year-old structure based on a newspaper’s open rate and standard column width. The growth of digital-only members and newspapers that publish less than once a week led the board to research alternatives and recommend a structure based on each member’s number of employees.

Each change addresses issues that have come before the board in recent years. After the 2021 annual meeting, Maine Press Association President Chris Crockett established and chaired an ad hoc committee to review membership categories and criteria. The committee met several times during the 2021-22 year and proposed most of these amendments, which the board of directors approved in August.

The amendment regarding the University of Maine seat follows the departure of the board’s last university representative in the spring. The university has not appointed a replacement and the board agreed to open the seat to all colleges and universities in the state, in order to draw from a deeper pool of candidates.

Bylaws amendments and dues changes are subject to a vote of the “Regular Members” — the 45 newspapers and websites that comprise the Maine Press Association’s core membership. Each Regular Member has one vote and should designate one person to cast its vote. Read the bylaws amendments and see the new dues structure below.

MPA 2022 Fall Conference Programming Schedule

Note: This is the initial plan; please watch the MPA Newsletter for updates.

8:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. | Annual Business Meeting

9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Changing Coverage of Courts and Cops Roundtable: A shift in philosophy in how news organizations cover crime, cops and courts has become even more pronounced during the pandemic.  As part of the Maine Press Association conference programming we will examine the changing role of journalism in crime, cops and court reporting. This round table discussion will be led by Dan Dinsmore of the Bangor Daily News.  Participants are encouraged to share their own company policies and how they have changed over the last several years.

Launching your Sponsored Content Initiative: Advertorial. Branded Content. Sponsored Content. Content Marketing. What’s the difference? Maybe not so much – it’s all using storytelling to create a positive association with a brand. But “how can we make it happen in a successful way?” is often the question. In recent years, Masthead Maine has been using learnings from the national Branded Content Project and leveraging their platforms to help advertisers achieve success. We’ll explore what branded content is and how powerful it can be, see various examples of campaigns and how they evolved over time. We’ll also share some nuts and bolts about selling, executing, pricing, and fulfilling campaigns.

10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Reporter Roundtable- Please join the Maine Press Association for a roundtable discussion on the news industry in Maine and how reporting has changed during the pandemic. Join other reporters and editors from around the state as we share ideas and best practices, compare notes on working remotely, and enjoy a general discussion about our craft and profession.

12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. | Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon

Honoring the 2022 inductees, Earl Brechlin and Chris & Paula Roberts; and 2021 inductees Dorothy “Dot” Roderick, Dieter Bradbury and Judy Meyer.

2:15 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Protecting Reporters in the Field: Violence against journalists is on the rise around the world, and we’re not immune in New England. In April and May, two New Hampshire Public Radio journalists and their families were threatened and harassed. In both cases, bricks were thrown at their homes, breaking windows and causing other damage. The attacks are believed to be retaliation for stories they had been reporting. In July, a Sun Journal reporter was attacked on the street while conducting interviews several blocks from the newspaper’s office. Five teens threw punches and tossed a loaded trash can at the reporter because they didn’t want him talking to neighbors. This rising violence against journalists has been studied by a number of agencies in recent years, and last year the United Nations made a number of recommendations to protect global media freedom and the safety of journalists, including digital safety. Even if you haven’t personally been the target of aggression, it’s very real in the work that we do and seems to be on the rise in our communities. Learn some basic safety measures you can take to protect yourself and become more aware of your surroundings in the field.

Circulation Round Table: Circulation is key to the success of our print and digital publications.  Join fellow circulation professionals as they discuss their successes and failures.  Topics will include current industry paywall trends, starting and managing a Newspapers in Education program, and more.

Advertising Manager Meet-and-Greet: Join the discussion with your fellow advertising managers as we discuss buying trends, what has and has NOT worked in our home markets, and how we make our publications stand out in a very competitive advertising market.

3:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Keynote Speaker: In this year’s keynote address, we will hear from Steve Waldman, the President and Co-Founder of Report for America, on the work that’s been done by this relatively new service-based nonprofit to invest in local journalism across the country, especially in rural areas like Maine. Join us as Steve discusses the strategy behind Report for America, the importance of protecting independent local reporting, the organization’s efforts to address news deserts and the different funding models that have been created to support journalism across the country. Steve will also speak of his work as Founder and Chair of the Rebuild Local News Coalition, an organization that focuses on public policies that will strengthen communities by creating a more robust, more inclusive local news system.

5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. | Annual Scholarship Auction & Reception

Join MPA members and guests for the Annual Scholarship Auction & Reception, featuring Auctioneer Extraordinaire Aimsel Ponti. All proceeds from the auction benefit the MPA Scholarship Fund, which is integral to our mission of encouraging more young journalists to join the profession. Your generous participation in last year’s scholarship auction resulted in the distribution of $2,500 of scholarships to Maine students earlier this year.

6:30 p.m. | Awards Dinner & Banquet

Master of (All) Ceremonies Greg Rec is sure to have the bad-joke jar ready to go as we meet in person, for the first time since 2019, to celebrate the winners in the 2022 Better Newspaper Contest and individual awards.

Post-Awards to 11:00 p.m. | Nightcap

Bar Harbor may be closed up for the night, but you can continue the celebration with your MPA comrades and friends without leaving the hotel. Cash Bar.

To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/maine-press-association-2022-conference-programs-tickets-411308925067

Hotel Rooms Going Fast! 2022 MPA Conference

The Maine Press Association’s 2022 Fall Conference will be held October 22 at Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center in Bar Harbor. A full day of events is planned, including informative sessions, The Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon with 2022 inductees, Earl Brechlin and Chris & Paula Roberts and 2021 inductees Dorothy “Dot” Roderick, Dieter Bradbury and Judy Meyer; the annual Scholarship Auction & Reception with Auctioneer Extraordinaire Aimsel Ponti, and the 2019 Better Newspaper Awards Dinner & Banquet with Master of (All) Ceremonies Greg Rec.  

Hotel Reservations—Rooms going fast!

We’ve sold out of the original block of contracted rooms and have added more. Although the RSVP deadline was extended to 9/28, this is the end of the inventory which means once theses rooms are gone, they’re gone. Please don’t miss out—book your room today!

Conference Hotel Room Information & Reservations ($165) for Oct. 21-22 must be made directly with the hotel. Please call the Atlantic Oceanside reservations office at 800-336-2463 to reserve your room and identify yourself as part of the MPA, Group # 65279. Reservations may also be made online: www.aobarharbor.com . Please Note: The hotel collects a deposit equal to one night’s stay when a reservation is made.

  •   Click the BOOK NOW button, click on Add Code.
  •   On the drop-down menu click on Discount Code, then select Group Attendee.
  •   Enter Group ID # 65279 and then click ADD.
  •    Details of your group block will appear. Click on SELECT & GO TO THE NEXT STEP. The guest room selection will appear after you enter your arrival and departure dates.  

Conference Registration

  • No registration fee for Hall of Fame inductees or guests.
  • Registration fee covers all workshops/sessions, Scholarship Auction, and Awards Dinner & Banquet.
  • Registration fee required for MPA members even if only attending the Awards Dinner & Banquet.

Maine Press Association to induct three into Hall of Fame

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

Earl Brechlin

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

Chris & 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 mainepressmail@gmail.com or 691-0131.

Nominations sought for 2022 MPA Hall of Fame

Nominations are now being accepted for 2022 inductees to the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, July 1.
Candidates must be Maine newspaper professionals who made lasting career contributions to their craft, in or out of the state. Members can be elected posthumously.

The Hall of Fame was established in 1998. A list of all inductees is on the MPA website at: http://mainepressassociation.org/hall-of-fame/

Each nomination should be accompanied by supporting material that will help committee members as they make their decisions. Please be prepared to submit all nominations and supporting materials in an electronic format so the committee can access them remotely.

Nominations can be sent to the committee in care of Faith DeAmbrose at fdeambrose@mdislander.com. Questions can be directed to her or to Maine Press Association Executive Director Diane Norton at mainepressmail@gmail.com.

The 24th annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held October 22 at the MPA Fall Conference in Bar Harbor.

MPA Individual Award Nominations due July 8

It’s time to nominate your deserving staff and co-workers for the 2022 MPA Individual awards. Please email all nominations to maine@newspapercontest.com by July 8, 2022. Digital entries only, please. The 2022 winners will be announced at the MPA Fall Conference on Oct. 22 in Bar Harbor.

Here are the categories:

  • Unsung Hero Award: For any staff member, in any department, whose contributions to his or her newspaper have been essential but often overlooked. Nominations may include examples of the nominee’s work and letters from supervisors and/or co-workers detailing his or her contributions.
  • Advertising Person of the Year: For an advertising employee whose work has been truly distinguished over the course of a year or years. Candidates may have established unique marketing plans or stood out through other measures, such as sales record. Work samples may be included with a nomination letter.
  • Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award: For a full-time employee of a Maine Press Association member with fewer than three years of full-time experience in journalism as of July 8, 2022. A letter from the staffer’s supervisor must contain a review of the nominee’s experience and accomplishments. School or college newspaper experience does not count as full-time experience. Entries will be evaluated on writing quality, enterprise, imagination, thoroughness, balance, and general reporting. As many as six articles may be submitted. 
  • Journalist of the Year: For an exceptional news employee whose work has been truly distinguished over the previous year or a period of years. A reasonable number of news clips, photographs, or other samples of work must be included with a cover letter from the nominee’s editor or publisher. The nominee must be an employee of a member organization.