T. Cushing Munjoy returns
Like a horror-movie monster with book smarts and a multi-picture deal, T. Cushing Munjoy is back.
The pseudonymous blogger whose insightful screeds decrying the Portland Press Herald’s slide into irrelevance have gained him equal parts insider fame and infamy (depending whether you work at 390 Congress St.) has returned to cyberspace after an extended hiatus. Munj called it quits last spring, though his comments have occasionally appeared on fellow media critic Al Diamon’s Media Mutt blog for Down East magazine’s site since then. With the increasingly possible sale of the Blethen papers looming, it seems Munj just couldn’t stay away.
We asked the mysterious Mr. Munjoy a few questions via e-mail, and the responses were interesting enough to include in full here, plus a scathing postscript received shortly afterward. Note that Munj’s former blog, Pressing the Herald, is no longer online, replaced by the new blog linked to below.
— Chris Busby
Why restart the blog?
Why start a new blog?
As it became clearer and clearer that a change in ownership (or dissolution) was imminent, the people ‘in charge’ of editorial operations at the PPH (Jeannine Guttman, Bob Crider, Andyman Russell) simply gave up. Of course, the news gatherers themselves had gotten fewer and fewer as layoffs followed layoffs. The point of my first blog was to prod the PPH to improve, to keep them on their toes, to let them know that some readers were paying attention, to serve notice that there were folks who knew Portland and cared about it in a way they did not. At a certain point I’d had enough tilting at the 390 Congress windmills.
Now, as newspapering in Portland turns the page (perhaps), there is an opportunity to try to engage with the new editorial management in the same way — play a watchdog role. So, tcmunjoy.blogspot.com.
Has the PPH done a good job reporting the latest developments regarding its potential sale?
You tell me … the PPH got beat by both The Bollard and Al Diamon in announcing the deal with the Bangor3+Liberty. To be fair, they’ve paid pretty close attention to the nuts and bolts of the transaction, but in typical fashion they’ve given [former U.S. Sen. Bill] Cohen, [Richard] Connor, [Bob] Baldacci and [Michael] Liberty a wide berth. Will someone tell me why these guys still want to own the joint? Is it for other reasons — akin to a grocery store’s loss leaders? I have a bet with a friend that they will not get the financing they need. I hope I lose the bet — we don’t want the PPH to go dark.
Do you expect that, should the sale go through, your blog will be more necessary than ever as a means to call the PPH out on unrevealed conflicts of interest and so on?
My abiding interest is high quality local journalism. Given the nature of the southern Maine market, a smart, savvy newspaper group could — with energy and effort — produce an accurate, compelling, must-read, relentlessly local (in the best sense of that word) daily news report. When I see backsliding from that, I’ll write about it. I think these guys are smart enough (we’ll see) to know that when they are ‘involved’ in a news story, they are fair game. It’s a good sign that they’ve hired an experienced guy like Dennis Bailey to advise them. To the extent they pay attention to Bailey, I think they’ll be fine. (As a disclaimer here, no, I am not Dennis Bailey, although many of the people at the PPH have speculated that I am. Wrong, as usual.)
What is your full name and town of residence? (I know you won’t answer that, but I’ve gotta ask, eh?)
My name is Thomas Cushing Munjoy. I live on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine.