Friday, January 10, 2014

Transitions: Goodbye, hello

Published in the Portland Phoenix

With this issue, managing editor Jeff Inglis departs after more than eight years with the Portland Phoenix, and turns the reins over to Deirdre Fulton, who has been the paper’s full-time staff writer since 2007.
I’ve largely shied away from writing about myself in these pages because a newspaper isn’t about its editor, nor its staff. It’s about its readers, and the community they share. I’ve made occasional exceptions to the no-me rule for newsworthy angles on important topics; see, for example, “A Night in Guantanamo,” June 20, 2008; and “In My Rights Mind,” September 21, 2012. I hope you’ll pardon me another, to share my own brief perspective on the past eight-plus years I’ve spent shepherding the shared treasure that is thePortland Phoenix.
Things I’m proudest ofOur first-person articles bringing oft-unheard voices to important debates about abortion, rape survival, and long-term unemployment.
Our years-long scoop (still unchallenged by any Maine media outlets), a multiple-award-winning series, uncovering torture in the Maine State Prison, which has resulted in markedly improved treatment for mentally ill people who have ended up in the criminal-justice system.
Something I’m not proud ofNot explaining clearly enough how terrible FairPoint’s takeover of Verizon’s landlines would be for Mainers; the deal was approved by regulators who claimed it would be “in the public interest.” Now thousands of Mainers suffer bad phone and Internet service at high cost, and all the rest of us are being asked to open our wallets to prop up outdated landline technology, instead of preparing for the future by funding high-speed Internet connectivity.
Things still unfinishedMaine’s Democrats still act an awful lot like Maine’s Republicans (and vice-versa), but our paper’s repeated shaming of both political parties for catering to the interests of the wealthy and out-of-state corporations, and their sustained collective neglect for regular Maine people, has begun to help progressives gain ground in Augusta, and possibly even in searches for higher positions.
We and many others are still debunking the war on the poor Governor Paul LePage is waging (which by the way began under elephant-in-donkey’s-clothes John Baldacci), bolstering the principle that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers — and that corporate welfare should be a real, and fruitful, target for those who truly wish to root out government fraud, waste, and abuse.
People I’m grateful to
The staff, full-time and freelance, of the Portland Phoenix
. There are too many to name them, but they know who they are and what they have meant to me, to our efforts, and to our readers. Three standout long-term mentors, collaborators, and partners must be named, though: former executive editor Peter Kadzis, the late senior managing editor Clif Garboden, and incoming managing editor Deirdre Fulton. I’m thrilled to be leaving you in her hands, and her in yours.
And most of all, all of you, our readers and community members, for caring about thePortland Phoenix, for reading it, for thinking and talking about what we write, and yes even for criticizing us when you wish we had done better. Without you, there’d be nothing to write about, nothing to say, and nobody to read our words. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.