Media Mutt


MaineToday Media Gets A New CEO

By Al Diamon

If there’s a question about Lisa DeSisto becoming the chief executive officer of MaineToday Media and publisher of its newspapers, it’s this: Why would she want the job?

DeSisto is leaving the Boston Globe, where she rose over 17 years to become chief advertising officer and the general manager of the website.

In the media world, that’s a top-line position.

DeSisto was the driving force in the creation of RadioBDC, the streaming modern rock station that snapped up much of the on-air staff  when WFNX was sold.

Boston magazine named her as one of the most powerful women in Boston. In 2006, the Newspaper Association of America chose her as its online innovator of the year.

She’s praised by her co-workers in Boston, who seem genuinely saddened that she’s leaving. Her competitors have nothing but good things to say, barely concealing their relief at not having to compete with her, anymore.

But everyone still seems surprised by this move. For a long time, it’s looked as if DeSisto was going places, but nobody thought Portland would have been on her itinerary.

Speculation among media insiders is that DeSisto was lured to MaineToday by majority owner S. Donald Sussman’s promise to give her lots of leeway and plenty of financial backing. Given her history of pushing through fresh ideas – as well as MTM’s record of stodgy, half-hearted online offerings – she’ll have plenty of room and resources for improvement and experimentation.

The only negative comments about this hiring that I’ve heard come from the Waterville and Augusta areas. MaineToday’s Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal have been drifting for the past couple of years, poorly managed by executives in Portland and even more poorly edited. There was some speculation that Sussman would return to the management structure in place for much of the papers’ histories, with a separate publisher for the two Central Maine publications. Clearly, DeSisto’s hiring means that won’t be the case.

With plans already underway to move the copy editing of the Sentinel and KJ to Portland, one industry insider said the two papers will become “bureaus, really of the Press Herald.”

Given DeSisto’s record, that might not be the worst thing that could happen to them.

Al Diamon can be emailed at

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