Friday, January 8, 2010

Please steal my stories!

In journalism, having your story "ripped off" by a larger publication is a form of compliment, so it was with pleasure that I saw this story on the Cobscook Bay seaweed fight in the Jan.5 Wall Street Journal. Compare the source pool with my story in the current issue of Down East, which hit the newsstands a month ago. (I also suspect the New York Times writer who did this piece came to it via this Down East profile I did of Linda Bean.) I myself first became aware of the seaweed issue via Alix Blair's Salt Institute documentary radio project.

Pity I can't get the Portland Press-Herald to rip me off! Maine caucus system flaws, a scandal with the Maine State Pier, the revelations that Ocean Gateway was constructed under obviously flawed economic assumptions or that Maine city clerks had been systematically destroying campaign finance disclosures: no interest. Does make you wonder sometimes....

Fortunately, a new investigative news non-profit has started operating here in Maine, with its first story out yesterday in the Bangor Daily News, the Lewiston Sun Journal, Ellsworth American, and Mount Desert Islander. Notice the Press-Herald and its two sister papers -- which the non-profits' head, John Christie was once publisher of -- aren't on the list. Al Diamon asked Christie why that is. Answer: Press-Herald owner Richard Connor doesn't like him.

The launch was unfortunately tarnished by a stupid move. Just as Keith Shortall of Maine Public Broadcasting was airing a piece on the group, Christie added Shortall's name to the non-profits' advisory board without asking. This caused a storm in a teapot after Diamon exposed it (in the above post and comments). Hopefully a minor hiccup, as Maine certainly needs more competent investigative journalism capacity, if only to give the big national papers some fresh story ideas.

1 comment:

  1. I was pleased to learn recently of Christie's new non-profit venture. Didn't know about Diamon's story on the Christie/Shortall connection. Like you, I hope it's a minor bump in the road, because Maine is in dire need of more investigative effort from its news media.

    It is disappointing to me that Maine's largest city has such a pathetic daily newspaper.