Media Mutt

Good Story, Bad Headline

by Al Diamon

I only read the first paragraph: Maine Sunday Telegram staff writer Colin Woodard had a decent piece in the Jan. 27 paper about new state and federal regulations that threaten the success of Maine’s drug-takeback program, which collects unused prescription medications. Woodard explained how proposed federal rules will make it impossible to count the types of drugs turned in, a process that allowed medical professionals to figure out which pills are being over-prescribed. Meanwhile, the state has decided to classify the returned drugs as household waste, rather than hazardous waste. That allows them to be burned in trash incinerators, a move that critics say will allow chemicals to contaminate air and water.

Woodard presents a balanced view of the issues, but it appears at least one of his editors never got around to reading that part of his story. The Jan. 27 Morning Sentinel (like the Telegram, owned by MaineToday Media) carried an abbreviated version of the article in its print edition under the headline “Maine tops nation in drug takeback.”

While it’s true that Woodard devoted his first paragraph to the success of Maine’s program, anybody who read even one sentence further than that would have realized that wasn’t the point of the piece. Obviously, the Sentinel’s editor never got that far.

If any reporters at the Waterville daily have secret messages they want to send to readers, I recommend inserting them in stories anywhere after the first graph. No one in authority will ever notice.

Tri-Town shuffle: Matthew Stilphen is the new editor of Current Publishing’s Tri-Town Weekly, which covers Freeport, Pownal and Durham.

Stilphen has worked in Maine at the Coastal Journal in Bath, but spent the last two years pursuing a music career in Austin, Texas. He replaces founding editor Mike Higgins, who’s jumping to Townsquare Media, where he’ll be digital managing editor of the websites of WMME-FM, WEBB-FM and WJZN-AM, radio stations in the Augusta-Waterville market.

Disclosure: My political column runs in the Tri-Town Weekly.

Al Diamon can be emailed at

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