Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Press Herald to host section-front ads

Published in the Portland Phoenix

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram will begin publishing paid advertisements on the front pages of its Business, Outdoors, and Sports sections starting October 1, according to employees who spoke on the condition they not be named, for fear of losing their jobs.

The move comes two years after the paper spent $500,000 to redesign its material to fit a narrower page (a change, according to company statements at the time, that reduced newsprint costs by five percent), and at a time when the paper’s Seattle-based parent company’s commitment to Maine is in question.

Section-front ads represent both a throwback and a look at the future. In centuries past, when newspapers’ editorial copy was unashamedly partisan, many newspapers melded advertising and reporting with little apparent worry that readers would perceive bias in news coverage of a paper’s large advertisers. In recent times, the practice has been considered a violation of the strict division between editorial content and advertising. But page-one advertising is becoming increasingly common as publications scramble for additional ad revenue. And in years to come, the industry may see more publishers adopt the strategy of selling such very-high-profile advertising positions.

Maine daily newspapers are split on the topic. Richard Warren, publisher of the Bangor Daily News, says section-front ads are “not a topic of discussion” at his paper, and though he says he “wouldn’t rule it out . . . it would be a change in our traditional approach.” But the Lewiston Sun Journal sells ads on its front page.

The New York Times and the Times-owned Boston Globe began selling section-front ads earlier this summer. And this month, the Wall Street Journal began running ads on its front page, selling for a reported $75,000 or more per day.

In July, the executive editor at the Press Herald/Telegram’s parent newspaper, the Seattle Times, wrote a column defending his paper’s section-front ads in parts of the paper where “content essentially is a consumer guide and the ad content is an important part of the total content mix, such as Motoring, Job Market, and Travel” — not the news-oriented sections that are getting section-front ads at the Press Herald/Telegram.

The trend worries newspaper ethicists, such as Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute, who wrote in July that his major concern was not ad placement, but the possible shift away from using newspaper profits to pay for improved journalism.

“We must make sure the journalism does not suffer,” Steele wrote. “If we are to make more bucks by selling the out-front space, let’s make sure that some of the increased revenue goes right back into the commitment to journalism.”

On another front, though neither publisher Chuck Cochrane nor editor Jeannine Guttman returned calls seeking comment, three postings on the newspaper’s help-wanted Web site suggest that at least departing staff is being replaced, perhaps signaling the end of a year-old hiring freeze.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ubu Studio to close next month

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Frank Turek, the collager-assemblist owner of Ubu Studio at 316A Congress Street, will close the gallery at the end of October, he confirmed Monday.

Specializing in the “underground” art scene, the gallery has been home to shows like “Pseudo Science Fiction,” by Mike Libby and “Copyartistamps,” by Reed Altemus. But after two years, Turek is retreating to do his own work, some of which has been on view at the gallery. He has rented a studio workspace in the State Theatre building on Congress Street.

And he may end the gallery’s run with a bang, providing a venue for “Can’t Jail the Spirit: Art by Political Prisoner Tom Manning and Others,” the controversial art show cancelled by the University of Southern Maine September 8, seven days into a scheduled seven-week run.

Turek said he is still working out the details of the show, but if things go as planned, it would open October 6, for the First Friday Artwalk.

Widow speaks out - Wife of fallen trooper: marchers don't understand

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Across the Casco Bay Bridge, at a fund-raiser for the family of New York State Trooper Joseph Longobardo, killed in August while attempting to capture a man who had escaped from a New York jail, members of Maine’s law-enforcement community gathered around the widow of the man murdered by Manning in a 1981 highway shootout.

Donna Lamonaco, wearing a T-shirt with a picture of her husband, New Jersey State Trooper Philip Lamonaco, and a blue bracelet with his name, took questions and hugs from supporters.

She had originally planned to come to participate in a protest against the exhibit at USM, but after university president Richard Pattenaude ordered the paintings removed she converted her visit into a fund-raiser and a chance to thank “all of the Maine law-enforcement officials” who objected to the exhibit.

One of those was Breen Savage, a retired Maine State Police corporal and chairman of the Northeast Conference of the Blue Knights, a law-enforcement motorcycle group.

“The night that Phil died, I was working the Maine Turnpike,” Savage said, recalling that Manning’s group and other violent political-action groups in the 1970s and ’80s had police officers worried they would run into armed men and women during traffic stops.

“Today we call people like that urban terrorists,” Savage said. Then, there was no special word for them, just “outlaws, criminals, crooks.”

Lamonaco said she didn’t mind Manning’s supporters marching so much as she feared they were confused. “You want to march, march,” she said. “If you’re going to march behind a cause, make sure you understand both sides. I don’t feel they understand ... Thomas Manning is nothing but a murderer.”

She did object to people saying Manning had a right to express himself, saying he had lost that right when he went to prison. He can do art, she said, and keep it in his cell.

“You don’t have the right to . . . send it over the walls.”

Now that the paintings are outside the walls, though, she wants to be a living reminder: “I don’t have the right to say you shouldn’t be looking at them, but if you look at them, know the full story of what they represent.”

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

One-stop shopping for eye candy

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Whether you’re after meaty jocks or beauteous babes, you can find them in one place this weekend: Fitzpatrick Stadium on Park Avenue in Portland.

More than a dozen Maine beauty queens, including Mrs. Maine-US, Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino, and Mrs. Maine-International, Nicole Massey (as well as a few Miss Maines), will be honorary captains of the Southern Maine Raging Bulls football team during Saturday afternoon’s game, a collaboration the team is calling “Beauty and the Cleats.”

The Raging Bulls, a AAA semi-pro team (whose collaboration with the beauty queens got started because one of their players works for Hamilton-Guarino’s husband) are the only Maine team in the eight-team Colonial Conference of the New England Football League. They’re 3-3 on the season, tied for second in the Suburban division, with four games left to play.

The Bulls will be slamming into the Medford Mustangs starting at 1 pm (tickets are $6), and we can expect the home-grown raging beauties to be jumping around on the sidelines, cheering the players on.

The team’s final two home games of the season will be against the North Shore Generals, at 6 pm on September 16, and the Lowell Nor’easters, at 6 pm on September 23. There’s no telling if the beauty queens will show up for repeat performances, so don't miss this week’s game.