Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mainers lead coverage in Mexico and Minnesota

Published in the Portland Phoenix

It might be a bit early to plan your spring break, but whether you head for the snowdrifts of the Great Lakes states or the sun of coastal Mexico, Mainers are already there, set to help you figure out how best to spend your time.

Chris Harte, a former publisher of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (when they were owned by Guy Gannett), will soon take up the reins as chairman of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Minnesota’s largest daily newspaper, after the surprise December 26 announcement that paper would be sold to an investment firm Harte helps lead.

The paper’s previous owners, the California-based McClatchy Company, made news last year by purchasing 12 newspapers from the Knight Ridder newspaper company, for which Harte also worked in the late 1980s.

Harte, an heir to the Texas-based Harte-Hanks newspaper fortune, who lives in Cumberland Foreside and has an office in downtown Portland, is a major investor in the rapidly growing Current Publishing weekly-newspaper empire in Southern Maine. The group he is working with on the Star-Tribune deal also bid on the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer, which became available as part of the McClatchy-Knight Ridder deal, but ended up not being the winning bidder.

In warmer climes, Aran Shetterly (a Maine native and brother of Phoenix columnist Caitlin Shetterly) and his wife Margot Lee Shetterly have launched what may be the key to the mother of all spring-break trips: Inside Mexico, a monthly magazine for English-reading residents of, and visitors to, our southern neighbor.

To date, the magazine has put out two issues, which have included news and features about English-speakers in Mexico, with an emphasis on improving the quality of readers’ lives in that country. Articles have included tips on how to make sure your American-bought car is legal to drive in Mexico, tips for understanding Mexican politics, traditional recipes, and explanations of cultural icons.

The Shetterlys say there are more English speakers in Mexico than the entire population of Maine, and are distributing the paper in urban and tourist centers throughout the country and in PDF form online (at to reach as many of them as possible.

Check them out before booking your clothing-optional solar pilgrimage, and make sure their bar and restaurant listings expand from Mexico City to the coast. You wouldn’t want to miss the hottest spots west of Havana.