Thursday, February 11, 2010

Press-Herald: what city are you in?

I don't intend this blog to become bogged down in criticizing the Portland Press Herald, the daily that was once upon a time the state's newspaper of record, but this morning I just can't help myself.

I just visited their website, where the lead headline and photograph are "New Storm Deepens Misery." Did I miss something in the weather report? Are we to get snow dumped on us from the snowstorm that hammered the poor, snow-averse people of the Chesapeake country?

No, to my amazement the story turned out to be an Associated Press piece on the snowstorm in D.C.!

It never occurred to me that a Maine daily would run a story about a snowstorm ten hours' drive to the south of here as if it was (a) something so vital to Mainers that it would trump all other news in importance and emphasis and (b) an event we've not already been told about from a thousand other sources and, if we really cared, couldn't read about over at And even if they had the poor judgment to give this story top billing, shouldn't they mention where they're talking about in their headline, seeing as their distribution area doesn't include Washington?

The paper's top editors, many of whom have recently arrived from away, are making a lot of strange decisions. They run AP copy from out of state on major stories like the Fairpoint bankruptcy filings or they lead their Sunday paper with an embarrassing puff piece on the Libra Foundation and meanwhile send reporters on expensive sojourns of questionable merit to (media-soaked) Haiti and to western Europe (to shadow a Gubernatorial junket.) Have they lost any sense of place, mission, and priorities? Today they might just as well have led with "Political scandal rocks capital" (the capital of Nova Scotia, that is) or "Causeway closed till Noon!"(in Bermuda.)

By way of comparison, the Bangor Daily News' top story this morning was "Officials tell state: Route 15 needs to be rebuilt." That's Route 15 in Maine, the place where their readers actually live.

Wake up, Press Herald, this state needs you.

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