While veteran journalists fiddle a newcomer scores
The fascinating saga of the Maine Green Energy Alliance has many of the elements that make a good political scandal story. It involves political shenanigans involving the former governor and more than a few well-known State House luminaries.
Republicans can breathe easy on this one because none of the perps are named LePage. And most are well-known Democrats. Perhaps that's why so much of the Maine media has picked up the story with all the caution they might exercise in handling an angry lobster.
Not so Naomi Schalit, the feisty (and former) editorial writer for the Kennebec Journal. who is now senior reporter for the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting (MCPIR), a news service which was established up to specialize in reporting the type of investigative stories that the Maine Media tends to ignore.
Ms. Schalit, who many readers of this website would call a dedicated green liberal (among other things), stepped fearlessly into this issue, which must have been a tough decision for her since it included some pummeling of her (assumed) political soulmates.
But the result has been the kind of let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may reporting that is rare in Maine. It deserves more accolades than it has received.
Perhaps this is because the news service is unknown to many readers. Some of the state's larger news outlets including the MaineToday Media group, which consists of the daily papers in Portland, Augusta and Waterville, do not subscribe to the MCPIR service.
As a result The MTM papers were late to the Maine Green Energy story and appeared dismissive of it. In fact it seem more interested in chastising the involved Democrats for letting their side down than for their actual mis-steps.
Example: this effort from Bill Nemitz, who appears to be morphing from a pleasant and readable human interest columnist into a snarly local version of Keith Olbermann.
To be fair, the MTM papers have since published at least one fairly comprehensive article on the matter and the Kennebec Journal has weighed in with a decent editorial. But it's appropriate to note that the MTM papers have not reported on the issue with much gusto. Nowhere near, for example, like their recent enthusiastic reportage on "The Cutler Files."
It's true also that this blog did not welcome the birth of the MCPIR with much enthusiasm either. That's mostly because the outfit's first story, which many perceived as having an anti-GOP bias, was the work of a writer who had made significant financial contributions to the Democratic Party.
To allow that perception to develop was a fundamental mistake that John Christie, MCPIR's founder (and former CEO and general manager of the Kennebec Journal) has not repeated. His group, which still includes staffers who make conservatives nervous, has gone on to establish itself as the state's most effective specialty news service.