Category Archives: Newspapers

Maine connections on ‘Last Comic,’ ‘America’s Got Talent’ bring state to reality | Bangor Daily News

Maine connections on ‘Last Comic,’ ‘America’s Got Talent’ bring state to reality | Bangor Daily News

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5 things to do in Maine this weekend

5 things to do in Maine this weekend

Unemployment takes a toll | The Reporter

[The newspaper where I worked for more than 13 years  and where I served as the opinion page editor for several years was gracious enough to publish a commentary I wrote in the paper’s Sunday Op-Ed section. There is a typo at the beginning of the second sentence of the online version of the piece, which I’m guessing happened when they converted it for the website. Please ignore the X. Thanks. — KM]

Unemployment takes a toll – The Reporter, July 11, 2010.

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What? Your job is to help people find jobs?!

Here’s a little irony for you … well, quite a bit of irony, actually.

I’ve been looking for work for the past 15 months. After 22 years in the newspaper business, I was laid off. Over the course of that 22 years I have been a reporter, columnist, copy editor, assistant news editor, opinion page editor, assistant city editor, website staff writer, and blogger. I’ve been trying to find work, usually via online job boards and websites, networking via friends, LinkedIn and Facebook, and by simply keeping my ear to the ground.

I’ve been pretty open about the experience. At least, with my family, friends, and those of you who have visited “Letters From Away.” I’ve written about the frustration of the job search and the various pitfalls that have occurred in the past 15 months.

But I wasn’t very open with the other tenants of my apartment building. I don’t know any of them very well and I felt uncomfortable opening up about that sort of thing. And apparently some of them have not caught onto my blog, if you can believe that.

Anyway, I was walking down to the basement garage on Saturday when a guy who lives in one of the downstairs apartments came out.

“So, where are you working now?”

“I’m not,” I replied.

“What?!”

“Yeah, today makes 15 months since I was laid off,” I informed him. A mix of surprise and shock flashed over his face.

“Listen, I think I can help. …”

I’ve been living in the same apartment building since late 2006 and out of work since March 5, 2009, and I had no idea that my neighbor worked for a county agency that helps people get back to work. One of the programs for which I may be eligible is a six-month, 50 percent salary grant where an employer would be reimbursed for 50 percent of a worker’s salary for six months.

That does a couple of things, of course. It gets workers into jobs, it gives the employer a worker and a chance to see what the employee can do to prove himself or herself in a job and it gives a little time for the economy a little time to come around so that at the end of the six months the employee has a better chance to be held on permanently.

 I’m not exactly sure what else the neighbor or the agency can do to help me, but I have an appointment to talk with the guy tomorrow.

Just another day as an unemployed journalist — another step forward

I hate this. I absolutely hate this!

Today makes 14 months since I was laid off from my job at The Record in Stockton, Calif. That is one year and two months; or 56 weeks; or 417 days; or 10,008 hours, give or take; 600,480 minutes.

Give or take. But who’s counting. Phew! …

I’ve written about this before, so I won’t belabor this too much. To make a long story – at 14-month long story – short, I had been a journalist at mid-sized newspapers in Northern California for 22 years. I had been working at The Record since 2006 when I was laid off March 5, 2009.

Underestimating the severity of the downward dive in the economy, I assumed that I would be back to work within three months or so if I made finding a job my job. But three months came and went. And then six months. And nine months. And one year. Now, 14 months.

I have been looking for work every since – at newspapers, wire services, online news services, governments, green industries, nonprofits. I recently applied for a job at a greeting card company, which I’m sure my newspaper buddies will find as ironic as I find ironic. I mean, a long-time curmudgeonly crime and chaos reporter turned curmudgeonly copy editor turned curmudgeonly columnist turned curmudgeonly assistant news editor turned curmudgeonly opinion page editor – you get the point – is not your typical greeting card employee.

Over-qualified or undertrained, that’s been part of my problem. Oh, and trying to find a job in a really shitty economy doesn’t help.

I have applied for hundreds of jobs from sea to shining sea. Seriously, sea to shining sea, and a few places in between. My job search has centered on the West – California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Washington state – and my native New England – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Frankly, I’ve noticed that the greater the distance the job opening, the lower the chances that I’ll even get an email telling thanks, but no thanks, but I keep trying. Everything has to be about making a step forward every single day.

But – again, frankly – momentum has been a problem. The holidays took a bit of the wind out of my momentum sail – too many three-day weekends that stretched into four-day segments when job websites didn’t post new openings. And – again, frankly – there usually wasn’t many job openings to be posted, even without three-day weekends that stretched into four days.

But things are changing. Or so they say. The economy is picking up. Or so they say. And businesses and nonprofits and governments and everyone is hiring or at least planning on hiring. Or so they say.

I have noticed more and more job openings being posted on job websites and more friends and acquaintances are passing along more job openings.

And I am again gaining momentum and applying for more jobs. I even feel confident enough to be relatively selective in my job pursuit – the greeting card application notwithstanding. (Very frankly, that job would be pretty cool, despite the irony of a crusty, dusty newspaperman participating in something as soft and fluffy as the greeting card biz.)

I’m fed up with being unemployed.

I’m hungry to get back to work.

I’m ready, willing and able to get back to work.

I’m just hunting for a break.

I’m sure that I will be working again. I just want it to be now. Now would be good.

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Tariff on paper to spare Maine jobs | The Morning Sentinel, Waterville, ME

Tariff on paper to spare jobs | The Morning Sentinel, Waterville, ME.

News leaders and the future | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

News Leaders and the Future | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

Gene Roberts: Newsrooms must tell their own cutback stories for democracy’s sake | Poynter Online

Gene Roberts: Newsrooms Must Tell Their Own Cutback Stories for Democracy’s Sake

Keith’s rides Part 5: Driving a Nissan pickup into the ground to end up with a Sidekick

[This is the fifth of seven eight or so blog entries on the cars and other vehicles I have driven. It may or may not be of interest. Enjoy. Or not. It’s your choice. – KM]

I was hired in February 1988 to be the editor of The Mendocino Beacon, a small weekly newspaper on the famed California North Coast. It was my first job after having graduated from California State University in Chico and I was pretty excited about it.

By the way, that month between graduating and being hired by publisher Joe Edwards is the longest I have ever been without a job up until this past year.

What I needed for the job was a set of dependable wheels. A college buddy drove me around to a couple of the used car lots in Chico and I finally settled on a white Nissan unibody pickup. I mention the unibody only because it was the first half-model year in which the unibody was featured, or so the salesman told me.

The pickup was a repo – there was a cigarette scar on a floorboard and the owner’s manual was missing – and there was no radio, air conditioning, or power steering. It also had manual transmission, but it would be perfect for getting around for the time being.

I used the pickup to make several trips between Chico and Fort Bragg, where I lived the first few months I worked at The Mendocino Beacon. There are some very winding roads between Interstate 5 and the coast and it required quite a bit of wrangling to get the pickup with no power steering between the two cities. My hands were swollen and my shoulders achy by the time I was done moving from Chico to Fort Bragg.

My tiny studio apartment was in an old former hospital on the hill east of the lumbering and tourist community of Fort Bragg. I could see the Pacific Ocean from my apartment, which was fantastic.

When I say The Mendocino Beacon was small, I mean small. I seem to recall that the weekly circulation was about 2,300 readers, mostly locals, former locals, tourists, and people considering a move to the North Coast. (The region, also called the Redwood Empire or the Redwood Coast, is generally made up of Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte counties. The marijuana-growing part of that area is known as the Emerald Triangle.)

And when I say I was the editor, what I really mean to say is that I did pretty much everything. I wrote news, sports and features stories, I wrote the editorials, took photos, wrote headlines and cutlines, I edited the copy coming in from a handful of columnists, designed and laid out the pages, everything. I even sold classified ads if I was the only one in the office.

But a very lovely perk of the job was that I could stand up at my desk and see the Mendocino Bay and beyond that the Pacific Ocean. Perfection.

I used the pickup to commute from Fort Bragg to Mendocino for a while, but eventually moved into a studio apartment in Mendocino above the barn/garage of an elderly couple from France. They had the same last name as mine, but with a slightly different spelling. He had been in a concentration camp during World War II.

The yard was lovely with apple trees, flowers, and a fish pond. I did yard work to work off some of the rent and I sometimes used the pickup for that work.

[Fun story not related to one of Keith’s rides: I worked at The Mendocino Beacon when the Rev. Jesse Jackson was running for president, and some local Democratic Party leaders somehow had been able to arrange for Jackson to be at a rally on the Mendocino Headlands. As I recall, Jackson was quite a bit behind the frontrunners and I think the rally was to help gain support among environmentalists and the gay community. Anyway, I had the story that Jackson was coming on the front page on the third week from the week of the rally and the second week from the rally, but put the story on Page 3 the week before the rally. The story had not changed and there was other news happening. So, on the day of the rally, one of the local Democratic Party leaders leads the 3,000 to 5,000 people at the rally in booing me and The Mendocino Beacon because I had put the story on Page 3 the week before the rally. That was pretty humiliating for me given this was my first experience with that sort of thing. That was tempered a bit, however, because fog kept Jackson from landing at the Little River Airport. And by the time they had come up with a plan to bus him in, it was too late. Jackson never made the rally. Well, not until some months later when the rally could be rescheduled. And when he arrived, I stood within 50 feet of him … with heavy armed Secret Service agents between me and him, of course. Say what you will about Jesse Jackson, he is a moving orator.]

I stayed at The Mendocino Beacon for less than a year. The 70-hour weeks were taking their toil and I felt it was time to move onto something else. I was hired at The Daily Journal in Ukiah, Calif., where I covered crime, police and fire departments, county government, courts, the wine industry, and some environmental news. The pickup was great for moving from Fort Bragg to Ukiah, where I stayed for a couple of years.

On one day off I was driving into nearby Anderson Valley to pick up mill ends – the pieces trimmed off at sawmills to make various board lengths – for my then girlfriend to use in her fireplace. I was driving too fast, I admit it, when I came to a bridge. It was winter and the bridge was slicker than the regular pavement and I lost control.

The pickup skidded a bit – I recall that the pickup nearly hit a station wagon going in the opposition direction – and spun out of control. The pickup ended up perched on the edge of a stream bed with a sapling the only thing holding it – and me – from tumbling in to stream. I was able to climb out and the woman driving the station wagon was nice enough to stop, check on my wellbeing, and offer to call for a tow truck. I thanked her.

I also thanked that sapling for holding on long enough for the AAA tow truck to arrive and pull the pickup back on to the road shoulder.

I was driving the pickup on a rough city street in Ukiah just as the Loma Prieta quake Oct. 17, 1989. I was on my way home to watch the World Series on TV, but the earthquake put a hold on that. Many people in Ukiah felt the quake, but I didn’t. The pickup was a rough ride no matter what and on a rough city street I didn’t feel a little bit of shaking.

The pickup was used in moving to jobs in Woodland – where I lived and work when I paid off the pickup – and later Vacaville. Trust me when I say this – the summer heat of Ukiah, Woodland and Vacaville make you regret not having air conditioning. There were more than a few times when I thought I would melt into the pickup seat.

The pickup also help me stretched my incredibly limited mechanic skills. Apparently, Nissan at the time was known for having crappy starter motors. The first one I traded out took me about three hours. I got that down to about 20 or 30 minutes by the time I traded out my last starter motor on the pickup.

One other notable event with the Nissan happened while I was covering crime in Vacaville. I went out to a TC – traffic collision – and was gathering information about the crash and the person hurt in the crash. The victim was loaded into the ambulance and the ambulance driver – a fire captain for the Vacaville city department – promptly backed the city ambulance into the pickup, crushing the fender and flattening a tire.

The city of Vacaville paid to have that fixed.

It wasn’t too much later that I noticed that the pickup was not as peppy as it once was – I had driven it pretty hard for the time that I had it – and, besides, I started yearning for a new ride.

Of course, the problem was finances. A person does not get rich working for a newspaper.

Several friends in the newspaper’s advertising department knew that I was looking for a new vehicle. That’s how I ended up at a used car tent sale at the parking lot of the Nut Tree Restaurant. Vacaville and Interstate 80 landmark had been closed for a year or so, if I recall correctly. That’s how I ended up with the Suzuki Sidekick.

Rides of My Life … so far

Part 1: Jeep Commando

Part 2: VW Bug

Part 3: Dodge Duster

Part 4: Chevrolet Caprice Classic

Part 5: Nissan pickup

Part 6: Suzuki Sidekick

Part 7: Isuzu Rodeo

Part 8: Honda CRV

Remembering a friend and colleague 9 years later

Cliff Polland

Cliff Polland in a photo shot by Rick Roach.

A Facebook post reminded me that today is the ninth anniversary of the passing of a friend and former colleague – Cliff Polland.

He had been ill, but far too young to die. He left behind many family and friends who continue to miss him to this day.

I recall that day quite clearly. Cliff had failed to come in to work at The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., where he had been a photographer for years and years. His boss and a close friend of mine, Reporter photo editor Rick Roach, was concerned. He had tried to call Cliff, but with no reply. Rick wanted me to go with him to nearby Winters where Cliff lived with a German shorthaired pointer named Lucy. They lived in a cool two-bedroom home a couple of blocks from downtown Winters.

We drove there in Rick’s pickup barely saying a word to one another. We knew that Cliff had been ill – in-and-out of the hospital ill – for a while and we knew there could be too many terrible reasons why he didn’t make it in to work or answer Rick’s calls.

We each had a key to Cliff’s house – I would house- and dog-sit when Cliff was out of town and Rick had one because they were buds and also checked on things if Cliff was away.

I still carry my key on my keychain to this day.

We arrived, knocked on the door, and Rick used a key to let us in when there was no reply. But he immediately backed out of the house.

“He’s in there. He’s dead,” I seem to recall Rick saying as he struggled to catch his breath.

I had him repeat it, because I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly. I asked where exactly. He was in a living room chair he had crafted.

We could hear Lucy inside and we knew it would be better to get her out of the house and into Rick’s pickup before police and other officials arrived. Dogs, of course, can be protective of their people and homes and we didn’t want her to react in a way that would cause officers to pull their weapons, as we had reported upon before in other circumstances.

She wouldn’t come out the front door, the one next to where Cliff sat in his chair. So, I went around to the back to a garage door I knew would be either unlocked or rickety enough for me to bust open. I was able to call Lucy through her dog door leading to the kitchen of Cliff’s house and ran my belt through her collar to fashion a leash to lead her to the front and to Rick’s pickup.

Rick called the local police to report the death and not long afterward two officers and an ambulance arrived.

We left a short time later to begin letting the world know that Cliff was dead. Those phone calls over the next day or so were difficult and I wouldn’t wish any of it on anyone.

As the assistant news editor in charge of special sections at The Reporter at the time, I wrote about Cliff in my next column a few days later. That was not an easy thing, either, writing about the death of a friend and colleague. A few months later I wrote another column in which I mentioned Cliff’s death. Below are those columns.

(I believe I also wrote another column, one on his memorial service a few months later – Hawaiian shirts, good stories, cigars and more. It was a great way to remember Cliff. I cannot for the life me find that column. – KM)

 Never good time for this

I hate writing these kinds of columns. I’ll never become accustom to it. Never.

I spent the better part of Monday helping in a very unpleasant task.

Longtime Reporter photographer Cliff Polland died over the weekend and I helped notify former Reporter employees and friends of the sad news.

Cliff’s obituary on Tuesday made mention of his professional achievements and gave a rundown of his career as a photographer.

But Cliff was more than a photographer.

He was restoring an old Porsche, piece by piece. Some of the parts, no longer available elsewhere, had to be sought out over the ’Net; some had to be manufactured. He was a mechanic, automobile historian and sports car restorer.

He loved music – jazz and blues – and could play guitar. He owned a couple of electric guitars and not long ago he picked up an acoustic guitar. So he was a music enthusiast and guitarist.

He loved fishing. He loved camping. There were fishing rods in nearly every corner of his Yolo County home. Camping gear in the remaining corners. So he was a fisherman and camper.

He loved making wines and beer. So he was a winemaker and brewmaster.

He liked tequila. So he was a tequila drinker, too.

He had a dog, Lucy. Lucy is energetic, to say the least, but a sweet dog.

She stayed by Cliff’s side after he died and had to be coaxed out of the house. I believe the joy he received in owning Lucy added years to his life.

He was a dog owner.

Cigars were another of his joys. Cheap ones, expensive ones. It didn’t matter much. He loved them while fishing or camping or just sitting around his home reading. So he was a cigar enthusiast.

He painted with watercolors. He painted fish – trout. So he was a painter.

He built furniture. He died sitting in a chair he made a few years ago. He was a furniture maker.

Friends gathered Monday night to reminisce. We poured Cliff a shotglass of tequila and lighted a cigar for him. We kept it burning until it was gone.

Then we lighted another. More than once during the evening, someone said Cliff was probably looking down at us shaking his head at the carryings-on.

He was modest, too.

He was more than a photographer. He was a friend.

The author, a former Vacaville resident, was the assistant news editor in charge of special sections for The Reporter when this column first appeared in The Reporter on March 21, 2001.

My ‘Gone fishin’ sign is out

By the time most of you read this, I will be long gone.

Oh, I hear the minstrels tuning their harps and people rushing to dance in the streets.

But don’t be so quick to rejoice. I’m only on vacation; I’ll be back next week.

By the time most of you have rubbed the sleep from your eyes, have caught the first refreshing whiffs of coffee, and made your way outdoors to fetch The Reporter from the bushes, I’ll be on my way to a piece of heaven in the Sierra Nevada.

My chariot this fine day is a forest green Chevy pickup loaded with camping gear and towing a fishing boat, also loaded with camping gear. My companions this fine day are my best friend for the past decade or so – who happens to be married to another of my best friends – and a German shorthaired pointer named Lucy.

We are running point for a biannual camping excursion that dates back 12 years. Some 30 or so others will follow, but we will be the first to take in the mountain air, the first to set up camp and the first to dip our lines in the upper of two very fine trout lakes with grand, glacier-capped mountains looking down on our every move.

And at night, with all of us gathered around a roaring campfire and mesmerized by its flickering orange, red and blue dance, we’ll renew friendships, partake in camping traditions better not discussed in a family newspaper, and each of us will at some point wish that the moment would stand still for all eternity. “Strangers” come along with us on these camping trips, but leave lifelong friends. It’s the way it’s been for a dozen years or so.

The bittersweetness, however, is that for the first time in a half-decade we’ll be without our friend, Cliff Polland. Lucy is – was – his dog. Now she stays with my best friends and their family, but I think, at least a little, she belongs to all of Cliff’s friends.

Cliff’s birthday would have been on Monday. We would have celebrated while camping, giving him goofy gifts, like a camouflaged baseball batting cap with dual beer can holder mounted on top with drinking tube.

We’re brewing some beer to bring with us, using some of the equipment Cliff once used. It’ll be a fine brew for a fine camping trip.

He’ll be there in spirit, at least, and having a good ol’ time along with us.

The author, a former Vacaville resident, was the assistant news editor in charge of special sections for The Reporter when this column first appeared in The Reporter on May 23, 2001.

 

Laid-off journalist being a tiny bit whiny

Some anniversaries simply are not meant to be celebrated. The death of a loved one. The start of war. The day reality TV started. These are anniversaries best not noted.

Today is one of those days, at least for me.

But I’m going to note it anyway.

It was one year today that I was laid off. Before that I had been in the newspaper industry for 22 years working as a reporter, copy editor, columnist, assistant news editor, opinion page editor, assistant city editor and website staff writer. The only other time I had been laid off was from a restaurant table-busing job I had in college and that was because I took off with little notice for about a month to work at my other summer job as a wildland firefighter.

A beautiful and beautifully talented woman who was laid off the same day from the same newspaper calls it a “canniversary” – a year since being canned. She is among the very lucky; she counts being laid off as a blessing because she found a new career outside of the newspaper industry doing things that she loves. I am pleased for her and not at all surprised she found a bit of employment bliss.

Some of us, not so lucky. But still very much plugging away.

Really, I don’t want to come across as whiny. At least, not too much.

I have written that I knew a year ago that losing my job was not my fault, but instead the result of a convulsing economy and industry leaders who were blind to or simply ignored the emerging trends in the newspaper industry. Of course, those same industry leaders retained their jobs, while talented people such as my “canniversary” friend were sent packing.

The sting of unemployment is somewhat tempered by the fact that so many other people were out of work, too. Misery loves company, no matter the source of the misery. It was not so easy to say that there was work for anyone who wanted it bad enough, because there simply was not work for anyone who wanted it.

Like so very many others in the same situation, things have not been great for me in the past year. OK, but not great. Despite the financial, emotional and psychological stress being laid off has caused me, I think overall I’m OK.

Sure, there have been ebbs and flows, ups and downs, ins and outs, people who say “yes” and people who say “no.” But I’d like to think that I’ve gained experience and knowledge that I will be able to use into the future.

The holidays were the roughest days, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect – too many three-day weekends. That makes for a very poor job-searching environment. Joblessness is demoralizing and it is made even more debilitating when there simply is nothing a person can do, not even search job websites because there are no new postings over the long weekend.

But you learn to move on. You learn to always take a step forward. And another. Always forward. Never give up the high ground and never give up ground gained. And you do it because there is no other option.

I don’t often quote stogie-chomping fat guys, but they say Winston Churchill told a nation once, “Never, never, never give up.” I’m rather too stubborn to give up, either.

Of course, forward movement doesn’t always work out the way you plan. And I’ve done my share of back-stepping the past couple of months. I’ve stumbled over stones and boulders and mountains, some of them of my own making, and some the making of malicious characters seen and unseen. (That’s not too whiny, is it?)

No matter, forward continues to be the only direction.

By the way, the past couple of days have been OK. I have been dreading for months this “canniversary.” I never expected that I would be out of work for three months, let alone a year, but I have been.

I remain optimistic that things will get better. I am optimistic and certain that I will find employment, either in the news industry or in a field less abusive to those people working in it.

And I am true to the idea that this will not define me, but ultimately make me stronger.

Bankruptcy court OKs MediaNews parent’s Chapter 11 plan | Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal:

Bankruptcy court OKs MediaNews parent’s Chapter 11 plan – Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal:.

Something from ProPublica about investigative journalism

Here’s a message from ProPublica for those of you interested in what is going on in the world in general and the world of news more specifically. As always, enjoy. Or not. Your choice. — KM 

Hi,

I’ve been getting ProPublica’s major investigations in my inbox, and I thought you’d appreciate them, too. Check it out: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6253/t/9245/signUp.jsp?key=1841

ProPublica’s reporting has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR, and their newsroom is making great strides in repairing our broken news media.

Want to stay on top of their one-of-a-kind investigations featured in papers across the country? Get updates about ProPublica’s major investigations: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6253/t/9245/signUp.jsp?key=1841

Something from ProPublica about investigative journalism

Here’s a message from ProPublica for those of you interested in what is going on in the world in general and the world of news more specifically. As always, enjoy. Or not. Your choice. — KM 

Hi,

I’ve been getting ProPublica’s major investigations in my inbox, and I thought you’d appreciate them, too. Check it out: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6253/t/9245/signUp.jsp?key=1841

ProPublica’s reporting has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR, and their newsroom is making great strides in repairing our broken news media.

Want to stay on top of their one-of-a-kind investigations featured in papers across the country? Get updates about ProPublica’s major investigations: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6253/t/9245/signUp.jsp?key=1841

Student launches paper recycling at MVHS | River Valley | Sun Journal

Student launches paper recycling at MVHS | River Valley | Sun Journal.

Quake spotlights Haiti’s distress, nonprofit’s resolve

Below is the top of a story by Portland Press Herald staff writer Matt Wickenheiser and a link to the rest of the story.

Along with the story on the Portland Press Herald Web site is a letter to readers from Scott Wasser, vice president and executive editor of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and MaineToday Media. Apparently, a couple of readers emailed complaints to the newspaper claiming it would have been better for the publication to donate the money to a charity rather than spend money to send reporters to Haiti.

The response has a tone of indignation to it, but Mr. Wasser makes very important points: covering Mainers doing good – no matter where – should be done by a Maine newspaper. Period.

And, more importantly, the coverage is sure to garner not just short-term replenishment of funds for charitable organizations, but long-term positive results for those groups that do good in Maine and beyond in places such as Haiti.

Newspapers and other news agencies must GO to where stories are happening. A major part of what journalists do is observe. And you cannot observe the devastation caused by an earthquake or the good that a Portland, Maine-based group, Konbit Sante,  is doing unless you send intrepid journalists and photographers. – KM

CAP HAITIEN, HAITI — Earthquake victims from the south came in buses, piled into pickups and jammed into cars, driving almost 90 miles to find any care they could – even at Haiti’s poorest hospital.

Justinian Hospital doctors, nurses and residents worked through the first weekend treating 130 patients from Port-au-Prince, the capital city destroyed by the Jan. 12 quake, which killed an estimated 200,000 people.

With sparse resources, they helped men, women and children who had broken bones, amputated limbs and crushing emotional and psychological truama.

And members of the Portland-based Konbit Sante worked alongside them. Haitian nurses and doctors from the nonprofit were there, even a Portland volunteer who teaches English as a second language.

But as important as the all-hands effort was, it may not have been possible without the work done by Konbit Sante over the past decade.

Justinian doctors and nurses were able to work in operating rooms without fear of a blackout, thanks to electrical upgrades made by Maine electricians; children were treated in a pediatrics unit supported by two Konbit Sante-funded attending physicians; and the opening of a Konbit Sante supply depot gave the hospital access to vital materials donated to the organization.

Even so, scraping together enough to respond to the disaster has been difficult.

Click the link to read the rest of “Quake spotlights Haiti’s distress, nonprofit’s resolve” by the Portland Press Herald’s Matt Wickenheiser.

More dispatches about Mainers helping Haiti quake victims

Here is a link to more “reporter’s notebook” items from the MaineToday Media crew writing from and about Haiti.

Reporter’s Notebook | Portland Press Herald

Here’s another “reporter’s notebook” from the MaineToday Media covering the earthquake in Haiti.

 Reporter’s Notebook | Portland Press Herald.

Making a difference for poorest of the poor

CAP HAITIEN, Haiti — The pickup jostled through craters in the dirt road, pushing farther into Petite Anse, a packed collection of tin shacks, squat cinder block homes and abandoned trucks on the outskirts of Cap Haitien.

The three women in the back climbed out as it stopped and headed down one long dirt path, toward an opening piled with mound after mound of densely compacted garbage.

They are part of a team of outreach workers who go into Cap Haitien’s poorest slums, working out of a health clinic at Fort Saint Michel and funded by Konbit Sante, a Portland-based nonprofit.

The clinic is one of only two that serve the devastatingly poor neighborhoods bordering Cap Haitien, offering maternity care, tuberculosis testing and treatment, prenatal care, emergency care and other services.

Traveling Wednesday into Petite Anse, which is built on refuse, the women walked across a causeway built up with old tires, dirt and trash that held back the fecal-contaminated pools of stagnant water.

Click on this link to the rest of “Making a difference for poorest of the poor” by Portland Press Herald staff writer Matt Wickenheiser.

MaineToday Media’s landing page has much on Haiti

I was so busy the past couple of days passing along links from the home pages of Maine newspapers that I failed to take a look at the landing page set up on the Web site of MaineToday Media’s Portland Press Herald.

Here’s a link to the landing page or you can move from the Portland Press Herald’s home page by clicking on the icon showing a crying Haitian child and the text: “Haiti Quake: Mainers respond to catastrophe.”

That will bring you to a landing page with a multimedia presentation. There are local stories and commentary, wire stories, tweets, slideshows, and information on how to donate to the Haiti relief effort. It’s not a bad collection of what’s been written by MaineToday Media so far on the earthquake in Haiti.

The one thing it lacks – at least from a cursory standpoint – is video. But that is highly understandable under the circumstances; newspapers are not set up to broadcast video via satellite and getting a memory card to the mainland to be edited and sent to the MaineToday Media websites wouldn’t make sense. My hope is that the reporters and photographers – perhaps a videographer – are taking video so that can be added to the landing page later.

I’ll post other landing pages if I spot one by a non-MaineToday Media paper.