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Real Time: A Community Building Blog

Welcome to Real Time, a community building blog that seeks to provoke thought, encourage conversation, and help our friends and colleagues understand what goes on "behind the scenes" at the Maine Community Foundation.

Mar 13

Written by: JaneA Kelley
3/13/2012 9:24 AM 

Images of three of the lost papers, courtesy of copydesk.orgIf the U.S. Geographical Survey detected seismic activity in midcoast Maine last weekend, it wasn’t an earthquake. It was the collective impact of thousands of jaws hitting the floor at the news that all the VillageSoup newspapers that served Knox and Waldo Counties were ceasing publication, effective immediately.

Among the deceased were The Republican Journal, Maine’s oldest weekly newspaper and Waldo County’s newspaper of record since 1829; the Courier-Gazette, Knox County’s newspaper of record since 1846; the Camden Herald, launched in 1870; and the Bar Harbor Times, which began in 1914.

For me, this wasn’t just bad news for a community. I felt this loss in a deeply personal way.

My first job after I graduated from college was a summer gig at The Republican Journal. Later on, I spent a number of years working for other Knox and Waldo County papers. A lot of the people who got laid off had been my colleagues at some point. I felt like a part of me -- and my community -- was gone forever, along with hundreds of years of history.

Even as the people of Knox and Waldo Counties were reeling with the shock of the sudden announcement, the community had started working to fill the void. A Facebook page, Midcoast News Rockland to Belfast and Beyond, was launched on the very day the VillageSoup story broke. Pen Bay Today, an online news outlet that used to serve only Knox County, has expanded its coverage to include Waldo.

While I was happy to see that a number of websites were working to get news and announcements out to the midcoast, I was still worried about the “digital divide.” Many area residents don’t have computers, much less an internet connection, and they need and deserve access to crucial information, too.

But yesterday, three days after VillageSoup’s announcement, Reade Brower, founder and owner of The Free Press, a free weekly focused on arts and community news, signed a letter of intent to buy the papers and hopefully have them back on the streets by next week.

“I felt a responsibility to the community to be part of the solution,” Brower said in a Bangor Daily News article. “These papers are the papers of record. Someone needed to step up.”

Clearly, people throughout the midcoast are mobilizing to address the sudden loss of their hometown papers and, to my delight, they’ve also recognized that as a community, we need print media as much as we need the web.

JaneA Kelley is the community foundation’s communications and marketing specialist and web content and social media manager.


2 comment(s) so far...

Re: No News is Bad News

Your blog certainly captured the feeling that rippled through the area as we all learned the fate of our local news papers, printed and online. And once again, people of these rural communities are pulling together to help each other, to keep each other informed. THANK YOU for sharing the news of Reade Brower's decision and the Facebook page. I hadn't heard yet and was feeling a bit in the dark.

By Louise Seekins on   3/13/2012 11:21 AM

Re: No News is Bad News

Thank you, Louise. I was born and raised in Belfast, and I can't imagine life there without the Republican Journal. I'm glad Reade Brower understands how important our community papers are and is working to revive them.

By JaneA Kelley on   3/13/2012 11:25 AM

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Meredith Jones is president and CEO of the Maine Community Foundation.

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