How Old Can A Story Be And Still Be A Scoop?
by Al Diamon
Old Bailey: Lewiston Sun Journal reporter Christopher Williams closed out 2012 with what appeared to be a solid scoop. Williams found out that the Maine Board of Bar Examiners had denied a request from celebrity attorney F. Lee Bailey to practice law in this state.
Nice work, I thought as I came across the story, which Williams’ bone-headed editors had buried inside the front section of the Jan. 1 paper. But I partially revised my opinion when I was alerted by a sharp-eyed legal eagle to the date the decision had actually been released: Nov. 30.
The decision to reject Bailey’s application, which immediately attracted national attention, had been sitting around for over a month, and nobody noticed.
This is supposed to be journalism, not archeology.
Williams didn’t bother to explain the long lag between the board’s action and its appearance in print. In his piece, he neglected to even mention the date the decision was released, probably because it would have been a little embarrassing to admit it had taken him so long to notice. What concerns me even more is that it appears the media never knew Bailey was seeking a Maine license and doesn’t routinely check the board’s agendas and decisions.
It makes me wonder what else they’re missing.
From the could-have-been file: In early 2012, a group headed by Massachusetts businessman Aaron Kushner tried to buy MaineToday Media, publishers of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.
Kushner, who had no media background, had previously tried to purchase the Boston Globe. The MTM deal fell apart after the Portland Newspaper Guild, the largest union at the company, rejected Kushner’s demand for numerous concessions in pay, benefits and working conditions.
Since then, Kushner has moved west, where he bought the struggling Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., and is transforming it by the unconventional method he had planned to use in Portland. That plan calls for building up the print product by hiring more reporters, producing more in-depth pieces and preparing to charge Web users the same price for the news as those who purchase the dead-tree edition pay.
Among the Guild’s reasons for turning down Kushner’s insistence on givebacks was that its members didn’t believe a print-oriented approach would save the nearly bankrupt Maine papers.
To date, advertising revenue at the Register is said to be up by an undisclosed amount and circulation has turned around, increasing over 5 percent.
Nobody is saying anything similar about MaineToday.
Professional courtesy? There’s been a good deal of coverage in the local media of an apparent arson case in Windham involving Donato Corsetti, described by the Portland Press Herald and others as the owner of Corsetti’s Market. Notable by its absence from the stories are Corsetti’s media connections. He’s part owner of both The Independent, a free weekly in the Windham area, and LA Publishing, which puts out a glossy magazine devoted to the Lewiston-Auburn area. Even the rival Lakes Region Weekly made no mention of his role in those publications.
I can’t tell if Corsetti’s paper covered the arson case or his alleged financial problems, because its website hasn’t been updated for what appears to be several years. Anybody in Windham see a story?
Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in the Lakes Region Weekly.
Al Diamon can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.