Category Archives: Journalism

Maine governor suggests he makes up stories to mislead media | The Associated Press

[Note: This guy is a disgrace and an embarrassment to Maine and the United States. True statesmen and stateswomen are turning in their graves. What a freakin’ joke. Doesn’t he get that there is democracy only with a free press.]

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. Paul LePage lashed out at the media for reporting he planned to leave the state during a budget impasse, and he suggested he sometimes concocts stories to mislead reporters.

The Republican governor also characterized the state media as “vile,” ″inaccurate” and “useless.”

“I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they’ll write these stupid stories because they are just so stupid, it’s awful,” he told WGAN-AM on Thursday.

Maine media, citing lawmakers, reported recently that LePage might leave the state amid a government shutdown. Republicans including Senate President Michael Thibodeau and Sen. Roger Katz said LePage had told them he planned to leave the state.

Responding to a Freedom of Access Act request, the Senate Republican office produced a voicemail Thursday in which the governor is heard telling Katz, “I’m heading out of town for about 10 days and I’d like to speak to you before I leave. So could you give me a call please? Thank you.”

A LePage spokesman called the news reports “fake news.”

In the radio interview, LePage reiterated his disdain for the media, in particular newspapers, saying “the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.”

Read the rest of the story.

Making resolutions as important as keeping them

We all make ’em, but we hardly ever keep ’em.

Resolutions are the genuine expression of our deep desire to mend our ways in the coming year. They are the codification of frustrating, seemingly unattainable goals of losing weight, eating better, drinking less, taking our loved ones and friends less for granted, being better at whatever. And much, much more.

I’ve written before about setting – and failing at – resolutions. There was “Resolving to avoid resolutions this year … or not,” “Vowing to be a better blogger … I promise,” and “Resolving that these will be the best resolutions – ever.” I’m not sure if that makes me uniquely knowledgeable about resolutions – or really, really not.

It is part of human nature, I suppose, to set challenging goals. That gives us something to reach for and added satisfaction when we accomplish meaningful goals. We don’t only hit the mark, we exceed it.

And even if we know that most of our resolutions never will be accomplished, the mere exercise alone is worthy of our time. It is essential that we each take a few moments from time to time to reflect on the past and present, and look to what the future could hold. It is essential as humans to find a hope in what we do and how we do it. Setting resolutions is a way to remind us of the very hope upon which we desperately depend.

We do tend to sent lofty goals, when small steps are just as effective. We can always build upon the small successes that come with small steps toward improvement. Grand changes are not always necessary. Ending world hunger and bring about world peace do not have to ride solely on the shoulders of a new year’s resolution. It is best to pick a few reasonable changes. Instead of ending world hunger, perhaps volunteer at the local food bank or offer to deliver meals to seniors and other shut-ins. Or arrange a canned food drive at your school, office or church. Instead of bringing about world peace, vow to be more tolerant and understanding in the coming year. Or even sign up for classes to become a mediator.

None of us alone can make a significant difference in the world. But each of us pulling together, doing what we can, can make great strides toward a better world. Each little effort causes a ripple effect that moves and encourages others to do little things, which moves and encourages others. A little effort will beget a little effort that will beget more little efforts that in time will merge and culminate into a significant pulse, a surge, a movement toward change. We saw that in Egypt and throughout the Middle East and we saw it in the Occupy Movement.

Frustration with a situation often moves us to make change. The Occupy Movement is about frustration – frustration in the stalled economy and the fat cats that let it happen and have profited from a diminished middle class; frustration in the political system that turned its back on everyone; frustration in unemployment, home foreclosures, the lack of affordable health care, the lack of tolerance … the lack of hope.

I’ve never been a “kick the bums out” sort when it comes to political change. Our electoral system is flawed in many ways, but it is the system we have. When we want change we must use that system to make those changes. Our voice and our vote are our weapons. But I am growingly frustrated with the way politicians – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, conservatives, liberals, all of them – disregard what always should be the core goal – the greatest good for the greatest number. It should not be the greatest good for the richest 1 percent.

Where to start when you “kick the bums out” is a particularly sticky point. After all, do you start with Wall Street bankers and lawyers? Or with Washington politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats? Or with the leaders and shareholders of mega-corporations that would rather lay off workers and relocate their jobs overseas than to take slight cut in profits?

Perhaps we should kick them all out and start with a fresh slate, one that puts in power the people with the most to lose and gain in the future. Perhaps we should turn over the running of Wall Street, Main Street and Washington to the children who will be living in this world for the next 70 or 80 years or more. Perhaps they can make more sense of things than those currently running the show.

I don’t suppose that will happen. I can only live in my world and do what I can to make it better, hoping all the time that what I do and how I do it will cause someone else to believe that they too can do just a little bit to contribute to the whole, overall, cumulative change for better.

My resolutions are not spectacularly original, but they are mine.

Resolution No. 1: Be a better person. Not sure this requires much explanation. We tend to know when the things we say or do or don’t do hurt people in our lives. There really is no need for that sort of behavior.

Resolution No. 2: Be a better person to myself. Not sure this requires much explanation, either. This includes exercising more, eating better, drinking less, getting more rest. Pretty normal stuff.

Resolution No. 3: Travel much, much more. Much, much more. I won’t be able to afford grand trips, but I can put together an impressive collection of day-trips. I’ve lived in Northern California since 1983 and for some unfathomable reason I have never been to Yosemite National Park. Amazingly, there has been no state legislative action to kick my butt out of the state for this incredible oversight.

Resolution No. 4: Recover a least a portion of that which was lost during two and a half years of unemployment. This is “the big one,” because I doubt I will be able to regain that much at all. I pretty much have spent the money set aside in 22 years of journalism for retirement. Cashing in an IRA was a painfully necessary thing to do a year or so ago after the unemployment benefits dried up. I’m employed, but making half of what I was making when I was previously working. I turn 50 in six months and I have no idea if I will ever be able to retire.

I’m not sure I’ll remember these resolutions much past the end of, say, this week. But at least I gave the future – and hope in general – some thought.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

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Lunch out in Stockton

Here we are at the Beach Hut in Stockton.

Here we are at the Beach Hut in Stockton.

Went to the coffeehouse to work for a while today with the girl, then for a walk along the waterfront, and then to the Beach Hut in Stockton for a late lunch. Now were sitting back to watch a couple of videos. … She’s pretty cute, isn’t she!

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At long last, I am going back to work

It has been a very long, winding, tumultuous two and a half years of unemployment since March 2009 when I was laid off from The Record in Stockton, Calif. It has been a very difficult time for so many people, including and especially those in the newspaper business.

But I’m starting a new job on Monday Tuesday – a 60-day trial as the editor of the Central Valley Business Journal, a monthly publication with offices in Stockton and Modesto. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and confident that this will be a good fit. I get the feeling that the Central Valley Business Journal hasn’t had true editorial leadership in some time, so even small improvements in the publication will be noticeable.

I have never been a business writer/editor before so the experience will be challenging in that respect. I haven’t been the sole editor of a publication in quite a while, so it will be challenging in that respect, as well. And I haven’t had to get up early for work in quite a while, so that will be pleasantly challenging.

I have written here in the past of the complete emotional toll unemployment takes on a person. You lose your self-worth, self-respect, and sense of self. Friends and family who haven’t been through the situation cannot truly understand what the unemployed go through, but they still offer suggestions – “You know what you really should do is …” – of actions already taken time and time again. They mean so very well and knowing that kept me from screaming just a bit. Prospective employers reject you simply for having been unemployed. And society turns an uncomfortable cold shoulder to those of us who were unemployed for so long.

My girlfriend, Brenda, has been very supportive and encouraging through the past few months. I thank her for helping me maintain my enthusiasm for, well, everything and for encouraging me at every step. She is solidly in my heart.

Long-time friends – especially Teresa, Rick, and Michele – have provided part-time work, room and board, beer and tequila, laughter, and encouragement. I do appreciate everything they have done for me in the past two and a half years. Other friends, those not so “long-time,” also have provided encouragement and even groceries from time to time. For those veggies and peppers, Kathi, I am grateful. And I thank those Facebook friends who over the years have helped me maintain my sense of humor, perspective, and sanity, who have provided encouragement, job leads, and a place to vent. Thank you.

And now a new adventure awaits! I’m excited for it to begin.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

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MaineToday Media CEO, and president, resign | Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND, Maine – MaineToday Media CEO Richard L. Connor announced his resignation from the company today and will step down on Dec. 31, according to a media release.

Dale A. Duncan, who has been MaineToday president since July, also resigned, effective today.

MaineToday Media, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, The Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, will be run by an interim management team while a search is conducted for Connor’s successor.

Click to read more of the story by J. Hemmerdinger in the Portland Press Herald.

Will write for food! … Or walk your dog!

Hey there! Hey there! I’m still trying to line up a freelance gig or two for the coming weeks. Please let me know if you are in need or know someone in need of a writer-editor-blogger-dog walker-house-sitter-dishwasher. Cheers!

Where newspapers thrive

Where newspapers thrive

[I started my journalism career at a weekly newspaper in Mendocino, Calif. It was corp-owned, so it doesn’t quite fit what this commentary is about, but it’s pretty close. — KM]

Seasoned writer, editor seeking freelance gigs

Hello world! I’m in between gigs so I am available for freelance writing/editing jobs. Please keep me in mind should you need help with writing/editing projects of any size.

And don’t forget, I can telecommute across the World Wide Web, so projects do not have to be limited Northern California.

Thanks!

Keith Michaud

keith.l.michaud@gmail.com

http://keithmichaud.wordpress.com/

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Not a miner, but a 49er

Oh, boy! Today is my birthday! I am 49. That’s the batter’s circle to 50!

Ugh!

Oh, birthdays don’t bother me too much. I’ve got other things that take up my concerns, such as unemployment. I’m much more concerned about finding a job and getting back to work than I am about turning 49.

And a birthday this close to 50 is just a reminder how fast employers wrongly believe I’m unemployable, so dwelling on a birthday is just a waste of time for me. Although, having a birthday on the longest day of the year and Summer Solstice is pretty cool, and I do love summer.

But today will be just like nearly every other day since March 5, 2009, the day I was laid off after 22 years in the newspaper business – I’ll be looking for work and trying to build a network that might lead to work. It’s not much, but at my age, what would you expect.

That “at my age” was a joke, by the way. I have plenty of energy and strength and stamina to do good work and be very productive. I just need a chance.

Temperatures are supposed to reach 100 or more today so I’ll be ordering iced tea rather than hot coffee. I’ll use the coffeehouse WiFi to search job websites, gather information for the job search, perhaps pay some bills and do a few other things online.

Later, I’ll be meeting a friend for an evening of DVDs. Other than that, there really isn’t much planned for my birthday.

And that’s the way I like it.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

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The Orion Captures Fifth Straight National Excellence Award – CSU, Chico News – CSU, Chico

The Orion Captures Fifth Straight National Excellence Award – CSU, Chico News – CSU, Chico.

[I was the editor of this paper in the late 1980s for two semesters when Dr. Richard Ek was the adviser. … Of course, that means I had absolutely nothing to do with these awards, but I’m still proud of what the current crew has done. Congratulations! — KM]

Poll on Maine governor: National spotlight a glaring concern | Maine Sunday Telegram

Most Maine voters are unhappy

with the job Paul LePage

has done so far as governor

AUGUSTA – Most Maine voters think the national media attention that Gov. Paul LePage has drawn in his first four months in office has been bad for the state – including many people who support the work he has done.

And most believe he made the wrong decision in taking down a mural depicting Maine workers in the headquarters of the Department of Labor.

That’s according to a poll commissioned by MaineToday Media to assess how Mainers feel about the job the Republican governor has done since his inauguration on Jan. 5. LePage was elected in November with about 38 percent of the vote.

The poll was conducted from April 25 to May 2 by Pan Atlantic SMS Group, a Portland-based firm owned by Patrick and Victoria Murphy. Victoria Murphy is a former Maine Democratic Party chair. The firm does independent marketing and research.

About 56 percent of the respondents said they have an unfavorable opinion of LePage; about 39 percent said they have a favorable opinion of him. About 5 percent said they do not know.

Click for the rest of the story by Rebekah Metzler in The Maine Sunday Telegram.

Maine Sunday Telegram’s view: LePage won’t get vote of confidence from this poll

 When Ed Koch was mayor of New York, he used to walk around the city asking constituents: “How’m I doin’?” We haven’t heard Gov. LePage ask that question in Maine, but we’ve decided to answer it anyway.

According to a poll commissioned by MaineToday Media, LePage is getting mixed reviews from Mainers but a majority of those polled, 56 percent, said they had an unfavorable opinion of the governor. Asked to rate LePage’s job performance, about 55 percent answered “poor” or “very poor.”

Given those basic numbers – detailed poll results are published in today’s paper – the most likely answer to the question, “How’s the governor doin’?” seems to be: “Not so good.”

When more than half the people who look to the governor for leadership don’t like what they see, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he’s doing something wrong.

Click for the rest of the editorial in The Maine Sunday Telegram.

Space, The Final Frontier: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Offers a Day Trip That Is Out of This World, DAVID, May 2011

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America story in DAVID magazine.

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America story in DAVID magazine.

Space, The Final Frontier: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Offers a Day Trip That Is Out of This World, DAVID, May 2011

Here’s a story I wrote for the May 2011 issue of DAVID magazine in Las Vegas. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. By the way, the spread was designed by Adam Bucci, a former co-worker at The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., who until recently was the art director at DAVID. I thank Adam for his fine work to best display the story.

Space, The Final Frontier (PDF version)

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I’m back … at least for now

I haven’t written here lately because of a bit of good fortune.

A friend contacted me a few weeks ago that the editor of a magazine for which he is the part-time art director was in need of a writer for a project – a 2,000-word story on Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic. Both have great websites with tons of info so check them out.

The story is supposed to appear in the May edition of the magazine and I’ll be sure to include a link when it is published.

And then last week, another friend tipped me off to another job, one that might be ongoing for the time being. That’s great, especially since I haven’t worked in two years. I certainly use the work.

I was staying away from freelancing mostly because of the added work. Not only do you have to be the journalist, but the salesperson and the bookkeeper and you don’t have benefits and on and on. But I am very grateful for both gigs and I am looking forward to find more freelance work.

I won’t write too much about the first job until the story is published. And the second job is more of a behind-the-scenes writing gig and I won’t be able to claim it for a clip. But that’s OK; they are paying me nicely.

So, I’m back again. … At least, until my next freelance writing gig.

Oh, and please feel free to contact me if you are in need of website content or other writing, editing and blogging. I am sure we can work out a reasonable agreement.

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Maine Senate Republicans criticize LePage’s comments, actions in upcoming OpEd | Bangor Daily News

AUGUSTA, Maine — A handful of Maine Senate Republicans are publicly criticizing Gov. Paul LePage for his frequent controversial comments and actions.

An OpEd column written and signed by at least eight Maine GOP senators, which will be published Monday in some Maine newspapers, indicates growing displeasure with LePage’s conduct.

“We feel compelled to express our discomfort and dismay with the tone and spirit of some of the remarks coming from him,” states the piece, which was provided to the Bangor Daily News. “Were this an isolated incident and not a pattern, we would bite our collective tongues, because we are all human. But, unfortunately, such is not the case. We feel we must speak out.”

The Republican senators further criticize LePage for demeaning others who disagree with him and diverting attention from real issues.

Click here for the rest of the story by Eric Russell in the Bangor Daily News.

What a long, strange road back to working … some of it in 5-minute bits

Today I had the very shortest job interview I have had in the past two years while on this quest to rejoin the ranks of the employed – five minutes.

Crazy! Five minutes? Why bother?

Last week I applied for an editor’s job with a weekly newspaper in the Napa Valley region of Northern California. It is the region that is famed for its wine and food industry, as it should.

But because of the high cost of land for growing wine grapes and other agriculture, land and property are at a premium. That, in turn, drives up the cost of everything, but especially housing.

According to a cost-of-living calculator on the Sperling’s BestPlaces website, the community in which the weekly newspaper was located is about 50 percent more expensive than Stockton, where I live now. Housing alone in the Napa Valley community was 191 percent higher.

Figuring I might be able to commute, I ran a few more numbers for several nearby communities. The closest city physically was also the most expensive of the five cities for which I tallied the cost of living compared to Stockton. It was 134 percent more expensive that Stockton, with housing being 515 percent – 515 percent – higher than in Stockton.

Using my most recent salary, the calculator computed that I would need to make $83,826 just to live in the community where the paper was located and maintain my Stockton lifestyle, which by no means is lavish. It’s Stockton, after all, the same Stockton that Forbes named “the most miserable city in the nation” for the second time in the past three years.

The human resources representative conducted the telephone interview called right on time today, we exchanged pleasantries and she outlined the initial questions. It was only then that she noticed that my salary requirements – the salary I had made in Stockton without adjustment it for the Napa Valley cost of living – was $10,000 to $15,000 higher than the salary they were offering for the position.

To be clear, they were offering $30,000 to $35,000, which would be plenty to live on in many regions of the country. But not for Napa Valley.

The company that owns the weekly newspaper owns newspapers throughout the country. I know people working at newspapers owned by the company and I have applied for jobs at the company. I won’t use their name or the name of the newspaper, because I may end up applying again for a job with the same company.

But I wonder now if they use a one-salary-fits-all-regions formula, which just does not work. A person doing the similar work, say, in the Southeast does not need as much money to work, live and play as does someone living in the outrageously expensive Napa Valley. If the company is using a one-salary-fits-all-regions formula for setting salaries, they really ought to change that.

The human resources representative apologized for not noticing the gap between what they were offering and my salary requirements, and said she would call me back should the situation change, which she added was unlikely given what the person leaving the job had been making.

A 5-minute job interview. What a crazy, winding road it has been. Crazy.

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News nonprofits seeking donors take lessons from NPR’s fundraising misfortunes | Poynter.

News nonprofits seeking donors take lessons from NPR’s fundraising misfortunes | Poynter..

New Maine Times faces major obstacles | Media Mutt blog on DownEast.com

New Maine Times faces major obstacles | Media Mutt blog on DownEast.com

New Maine Times: http://newmainetimes.org/.

Anniversary that just isn’t worth cotton, paper or China

The traditional gift for the second anniversary is supposed to be cotton. Unless you are in the United Kingdom and then it is paper. (Those Brits are always throwing a wrench in things.)

Of course, a modern gift for the second anniversary is China.

Today I am “celebrating” a second anniversary that is not worth any of those gifts. Today marks two years since I was laid off from work after 22 years in journalism.

It has been a time of disappointment, discouragement, loss, fear and sadness. It also has been a time of growth, I think. But someone else can judge that, because “they” always do.

I do not want to belabor this whole unemployment thing. (Or should I write that I do not want to belabor the lack of labor?) I already have written about losing my job and the struggles searching for a job for which a prospective employer likely looks at me as “overqualified” – and, therefore, thought to want a large salary that would cause a strain on his or her budget for wages – or “undertrained” – which is probable for anyone born in a time when televisions still used tubes, not transistors.

I continue to be frustrated in my considerable effort to find suitable work. I continue to apply for openings in journalism since that is the vocation for which I am trained. I also look for employment with nonprofits, environmental and green industries, colleges and universities, and local, state and federal governments.

No luck … yet.

But news about the economy is getting better. … Isn’t it?

There are 13.7 million Americans out of work. That figure is twice what it was before The Great Recession, but lower than it had been. That is an improvement. … Why does it not feel like an improvement?

I have run through my Unemployment Insurance benefits and now I am living on the money from a small IRA. I do pray – I have been doing more praying – that I will find a job before that money runs out. Not really sure what will happen when I run out of that money, but it very likely will include moving out of California.

But I will get by. Somehow.

Anyway, I really did not want to spend too much time at this. The second anniversary really does not mean anything. Not really.

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Resolving that these will be the best resolutions – ever

Here I go again writing down resolutions for the new year.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I know! I’m posting this very nearly on the last day of the first month of the year. Resolutions should come before the new year or very soon after the start of the year, not at the end of the first month.

I mean, after all, most people have made and broken their resolutions a dozen times over by now.

But I was tied up on the job search and other projects so I could not get to it the way I wanted.

And, yes, I considered making “improving time management” one of my resolutions. … But I ran out of time.

Each year most of us look at what we have done during the past year, perhaps cringe a bit, and vow never ever to do those things again.
We vow to stop smoking. To drink less. To work out more and drop those nagging 20 pounds. We promise to take more time for our families, for ourselves. We pledge to be better in everything we do.

But it hardly works out the way we plan.

That is OK. We are human. We are not perfect. A few flaws are part of our character.

And so is trying to fix those flaws.

Here are my resolutions for 2011. Well, my resolutions for 11 months of 2011, anyway:

1) Find fulfilling, meaningful, suitable work. I have been out of work since March 2009. That is much, much too long to be out of work, trust me. It is has been financially and emotionally devastating and demoralizing and frustrating and disheartening … you get the point.

Not long ago I saw a television news story about the passage of the extension of unemployment insurance benefits as part of the continuation of the Bush-era tax breaks. A fellow was interviewed who had just been laid off and said that if he did not have a job after a year, then he did not deserve the benefits.

Of course, he was JUST laid off as the economy seems to be making a move upward. It would have been interesting to talk to that guy if he had been in my situation.

I want to work and work soon. I have been working since I was a teen. I worked a green chain at 16 or 17 and held down three part-time jobs while going to college fulltime. I know how to work. And I want to work. I just need a chance to prove myself to others.

2) Be more diligent at updating this blog and my for-fun blog, “Coffeehouse Observer.” I wrote in an earlier blog entry that was going to be my No. 1 resolution for 2011 (“Vowing to be a better blogger … I promise,” “Letters From Away,” Jan. 1, 2011), but then realized there is nothing more important to me than finding work, as it has been for nearly two years. Being a more diligent blogger will have to be No. 2.

A head cold sort of derailed that effort for a while, putting me behind in other things that are of higher priority, such as finding a job. I blogged about that, too. (“Polishing up vow to be a better blogger – I promise … again,” “Letters From Away,” Jan. 13, 2011)

3) Which all sort of brings me to Resolution No. 3 – stop putting off eliminating procrastination from my life. Yeah, perhaps it should be No. 1 – especially since we are into the third week of the new year and most people have already broken their resolutions – but at least it made the top five.

Most years I make at least five resolutions. I can prove it because I’ve written about resolutions in the past as a blogger and before:

“Resolving to avoid resolutions this year … or not,” “Letters From Away,” Dec. 31, 2009 and

“Tips for sustaining a job search in 2010,” “Letters From Away,” Jan. 2, 2010.

This year, three seems plenty.

I resolve to do my best to follow the spirit – if not the letter – of these resolutions and perhaps dip into the old resolutions that have gone unfulfilled. And as with most things, better late than never at all.

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Video: Intrepid reporter risks all to show off snow tubing | Bangor Daily News

Video: Intrepid reporter risks all to show off snow tubing | Bangor Daily News.