PORTLAND — MaineToday Media CEO Richard L. Connor announced his resignation from the company Friday and will step down on Dec. 31.

Dale Duncan, MaineToday president since July, also resigned, effective Friday.

MaineToday, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, The Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and the Coastal Journal, will be managed by an interim team during the search for Connor’s successor.

In the media release, Connor said he “led a significant transformation of this company.”

He noted that MaineToday recently reported the first increase in paid circulation in five years, and that the Maine Press Association named The Portland Press Herald the Best Daily Newspaper in Maine two weeks ago. In addition, Connor said, the company revamped its websites and online products and launched the MaineToday Digital division two months ago.

“Now the company needs to leverage the new foundation into the next phase,” he said. “After four years of work with a schedule that has been around the clock … it’s time for change for me personally, my family, and for the company. I remain a significant individual investor in the company and I believe in its future.”

Peter Brodsky, MaineToday Media board chair, said in the statement that the board will immediately begin seeking Connor’s successor.

“We will be recruiting leadership for these properties with strong ties to emerging media technologies that continue to shape the future of this industry. Rich Connor’s long experience in the newspaper industry provided a critical start to the reshaping of these newspapers,” said Brodsky. “Future management will build on that foundation. MaineToday Media looks forward to continuing its role as the leading source of news and quality journalism in Maine.”

Brodsky is a former employee at Dallas-based HM Capital Partners, a major MaineToday investor.
Connor said he will assist with the leadership transition in coming months.

Scott Wasser, executive editor of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, said he will miss Connor’s leadership.

“I told the newsroom when I first got here, two-and-a-half years ago, that Rich was the best boss I ever had. That never changed,” he said. “We will continue to do the great journalism that (Connor) brought here.”

Portland Newspaper Guild president Tom Bell said in a letter to members that Connor improved the paper’s quality and community relations, and stabilized circulation.

“But that is not enough. We must build on that success and deliver news and services on platforms other than newspapers, and we now need a digital-savvy leader who can take us to the next level,” said Bell, adding that the union will soon finish negotiating a new contract.

“The union is committed to helping the company remain successful. At this time of transition and uncertainty, we must be flexible, but our strength and commitment is also a source of stability for our readers and advertisers, our company and our workforce,” he said.

An investment group led by Connor, a Bangor native, purchased the company in June 2009 from Seattle Times Co.

Since then, the company centralized printing, moved to new offices and, weeks ago, announced a restructuring that included 38 layoffs and voluntary severance of 23 employees.

Former Maine Gov. John Baldacci praised Connor for keeping The Portland Press Herald “an independent Maine paper, not part of a national franchise.”

“I think he stabilized (the company in) a very difficult economy and during a challenging time in the newspaper business,” Baldacci said.

Alan Baker, owner and publisher of Bar Harbor’s Mount Desert Islander and The Ellsworth American, called Connor a “breath of fresh air” for The Portland Press Herald.

“I thought he was good for the Maine newspaper industry because he turned the (Portland Press Herald) around. Most people I know think the paper is much more interesting under his leadership,” Baker said.

“I don’t know anyone in this industry that has worked as hard as he worked in the last three or four years,” Baker added.

Chris Hall, senior vice president of the Portland Regional Chamber, said he was “surprised and saddened” by the departure of Connor, a “very generous supporter” of the chamber.

Connor also sits on the board of the affiliated Portland Community Chamber.

Hall recalled a speech Connor made about media challenges at a September 2009 event.

“He was taking up a challenge many people weren’t sure he could meet,” said Hall. “Much to peoples’ happiness, we still have a paper, and I give him credit for stepping up and being a leader.”

Connor will also step down from his positions as CEO of Impressions Media and editor and publisher of The Times Leader, the paper reported Friday.

Former President Duncan said he resigned because the “owners want new leadership.”

Duncan, who is former publisher of The Indianapolis Star and joined MaineToday in 2010 as a contractor, said he enjoyed his time with the company, particularly overseeing the 2010 election coverage.

He also praised the professionals at the company, including Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel staff.

Duncan described the four months as president as a “challenge.” In that time the company launched MaineToday Digital, hired a new chief financial officer and cut expenses during a difficult revenue environment.

“The organization responded well,” Duncan said.

“And because of the steps we made in the last six months, the organization will be fine in the near term while it deals with a rapidly changing business model.”

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be contacted at at 791-6316 or at:

jhemmerdinger@mainetoday.com

Updated 3:40 p.m

PORTLAND — MaineToday Media CEO Richard L. Connor announced his resignation from the company today and will step down on Dec. 31, according to a media release.

Dale A. Duncan, who has been MaineToday president since July, also resigned, effective today.

MaineToday Media, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, The Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, will be run by an interim management team while a search is conducted for Connor’s successor.

In the MaineToday media release, Connor said he “led a significant transformation of this company.”

“We just reported the first increase in paid circulation in almost five years. The Portland Press Herald was recognized as the Best Daily Newspaper in Maine by the Maine Press Association two weeks ago. Our websites and online products have been totally revamped, and a digital division was started two months ago. Our website traffic is now the highest in the state,” he said.

Connor said MaineToday has transformed into “literally a new media company with an emphasis on online.”

“Now the company needs to leverage the new foundation into the next phase,” he said. “After four years of work with a schedule that has been around the clock, seven days a week, it’s time for change for me personally, my family, and for the company. I remain a significant individual investor in the company and I believe in its future.”

Peter Brodsky, MaineToday Media board chair, said in the statement that the board will begin immediately seeking Connor’s successor.

“We will be recruiting leadership for these properties with strong ties to emerging media technologies that continue to shape the future of this industry. Rich Connor’s long experience in the newspaper industry provided a critical start to the reshaping of these newspapers,” said Brodsky. “Future management will build on that foundation. MaineToday Media looks forward to continuing its role as the leading source of news and quality journalism in Maine.”

“I told the newsroom when I first got here, two-and-a-half years ago, that Rich was the best boss I ever had. That never changed. I will obviously miss his leadership,” said Scott Wasser, executive editor of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.  “We will continue to do the great journalism that (Connor) brought here.”

Tom Bell, president of the Portland Newspaper Guild, MaineToday Media’s largest union, said in a letter to members that Connor “helped us build a stronger connection with the community, and he improved the quality of the newspapers, steps that were needed to stabilize circulation.”

“But that is not enough,” Bell said. “We must build on that success and deliver news and services on platforms other than newspapers, and we now need a digital-savvy leader who can take us to the next level. The owners of the company are committed to providing that new leadership.”

Bell said the union will soon finish negotiating a new contract with the company.

“The union is committed to helping the company remain successful,” said Bell. “At this time of transition and uncertainty, we must be flexible, but our strength and commitment is also a source of stability for our readers and advertisers, our company and our workforce.

Connor’s departure comes just weeks after the company announced an internal restructuring that included 38 layoffs. An additional 23 staffers took voluntary severance.

Alan Baker, owner and publisher of Bar Harbor’s Mount Desert Islander and 160-year-old The Ellsworth American, called Connor a “breath of fresh air” for the Portland Press Herald.

“I thought he was good for the Maine newspaper industry because he turned the (Portland Press Herald) around.  Most people I know in the area think the paper is much more interesting under his leadership,” Baker said.

“I don’t know anyone in this industry that has worked as hard as he worked in the last three or four years,” Baker added of Connor.

Former President Duncan said he resigned because the “owners want new leadership.”

“That’s their prerogative,” he said.

Duncan, who joined MaineToday in 2010 as an independent contractor, said he enjoyed his time with the company, particularly overseeing coverage of the 2010 elections. He also praised the professionals working at the company, including those at the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and Morning Sentinel in Waterville, both owned by MaineToday.

Duncan described the four months he was president as a “challenge,” noting that the company recently launched the new MaineToday Digital division, hired a new chief financial officer and cut expenses during a difficult revenue environment. He noted that the digital division has seen steady revenue gains in recent months.

“The organization responded well,” Duncan said. “And because of the steps we made in the last six months, the organization will be fine in the near term while it deals with a rapidly-changing business model.”

Christopher Hall, senior vice president of the Portland Regional Chamber, said he was “surprised and saddened” by the departure of Connor, who he called a “very generous supporter” of the chamber. Connor is on the board of the Portland Community Chamber, an affiliate of the Regional Chamber.

Hall mentioned a “memorable speech” Connor made about challenges in the newspaper industry at a chamber event in September 2009, shortly after Connor joined MaineToday Media.

“He was taking up a challenge many people weren’t sure he could meet,” said Hall. “Much to peoples’ happiness, we still have a paper, and I give him credit for stepping up and being a leader. His departure is hard to hear.”

Regional Chamber CEO Godfrey Wood said he isn’t surprised by Connor’s departure, given “how hard he’s been working.”  He said Connor has spoken of long hours and travel.
 

 

Updated 2:44 p.m

PORTLAND — MaineToday Media CEO Richard L. Connor announced his resignation from the company today and will step down on Dec. 31, according to a media release.

Dale A. Duncan, who has been MaineToday president since July, also resigned, effective today.

MaineToday Media, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, The Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, will be run by an interim management team while a search is conducted for Connor’s successor.

“I told the newsroom when I first got here, two-and-a-half years ago, that Rich was the best boss I ever had. That never changed. I will obviously miss his leadership,” said Scott Wasser, executive editor of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.  “We will continue to do the great journalism that (Connor) brought here.”

Former President Duncan said he resigned because the “owners want new leadership.”

“That’s their perogative,” he said.

Duncan, who joined MaineToday in 2010 as an independent contractor, said he enjoyed his time with the company, particulary overseeing coverage of the 2010 elections. He also praised the professionals working at the company, including those at the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and Morning Sentinel in Waterville, both owned by MaineToday.

Duncan described the four months he was president as a “challenge,” noting that the company recently launched the new MaineToday Digital division, hired a new chief financial officer and cut expenses during a difficult revenue environment. He noted that the digital division has seen steady revenue gains in recent months.

“The organization responded well,” Duncan said. “And because of the steps we made in the last six months, the organization will be fine in the near term while it deals with a rapidly-changing business model.”

Tom Bell, president of the Portland Newspaper Guild, MaineToday Media’s largest union, said in a letter to members that Connor “helped us build a stronger connection with the community, and he improved the quality of the newspapers, steps that were needed to stabilize circulation.”

“But that is not enough,” Bell said. “We must build on that success and deliver news and services on platforms other than newspapers, and we now need a digital-savvy leader who can take us to the next level. The owners of the company are committed to providing that new leadership.”

Bell said the union will soon finish negotiating a new contract with the company.

“The union is committed to helping the company remain successful,” said Bell. “At this time of transition and uncertainty, we must be flexible, but our strength and commitment is also a source of stability for our readers and advertisers, our company and our workforce.

Connor’s departure comes just weeks after the company announced an internal restructuring that included 38 layoffs. An additional 23 staffers took voluntary severance.

Alan Baker, owner and publisher of Bar Harbor’s Mount Desert Islander and 160-year-old The Ellsworth American, called Connor a “breath of fresh air” for the Portland Press Herald.

“I thought he was good for the Maine newspaper industry because he turned the (Portland Press Herald) around.  Most people I know in the area think the paper is much more interesting under his leadership,” Baker said.

“I don’t know anyone in this industry that has worked as hard as he worked in the last three or four years,” Baker added of Connor.

Christopher Hall, senior vice president of the Portland Regional Chamber, said he was “surprised and saddened” by the departure of Connor, who he called a “very generous supporter” of the chamber. Connor is on the board of the Portland Community Chamber, an affiliate of the Regional Chamber.

Hall mentioned a “memorial speech” Connor made about challenges in the newspaper industry at a chamber event in September 2009, shortly after Connor joined MaineToday Media.

“He was taking up a challenge many people weren’t sure he could meet,” said Hall. “Much to people’s happiness, we still have a paper, and I give him credit for stepping up and being a leader. His departure is hard to hear.”

Regional Chamber CEO Godrey said he wasn’t surprised by Connor’s departure, given “how hard he’s been working.”  He said Connor had spoken of long hours and travel.

In the MaineToday media release, Connor said he “led a significant transformation of this company.”

“We just reported the first increase in paid circulation in almost five years. The Portland Press Herald was recognized as the Best Daily Newspaper in Maine by the Maine Press Association two weeks ago. Our websites and online products have been totally revamped, and a digital division was started two months ago. Our website traffic is now the highest in the state,” he said.

Connor said MaineToday has transformed into “literally a new media company with an emphasis on online.”

“Now the company needs to leverage the new foundation into the next phase,” he said. “After four years of work with a schedule that has been around the clock, seven days a week, it’s time for change for me personally, my family, and for the company. I remain a significant individual investor in the company and I believe in its future.”

 

 

Updated 2:10 p.m

PORTLAND — MaineToday Media CEO Richard L. Connor announced his resignation from the company today and will step down on Dec. 31, according to a media release.

Dale A. Duncan, who has been MaineToday president since July, also resigned, effective today.

MaineToday Media, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, The Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, will be run by an interim management team while a search is conducted for Connor’s successor.

Tom Bell, president of the Portland Newspaper Guild, MaineToday Media’s largest union, said in a letter to members that Connor “helped us build a stronger connection with the community, and he improved the quality of the newspapers, steps that were needed to stabilize circulation.”

“But that is not enough,” Bell said. “We must build on that success and deliver news and services on platforms other than newspapers, and we now need a digital-savvy leader who can take us to the next level. The owners of the company are committed to providing that new leadership.”

Bell said the union will soon finish negotiating a new contract with the company.

“The union is committed to helping the company remain successful,” said Bell. “At this time of transition and uncertainty, we must be flexible, but our strength and commitment is also a source of stability for our readers and advertisers, our company and our workforce.

Connor’s departure comes just weeks after the company announced an internal restructuring that included 38 layoffs. An additional 23 staffers took voluntary severance.

Alan Baker, owner and publisher of Bar Harbor’s Mount Desert Islander and 160-year-old The Ellsworth American, called Connor a “breath of fresh air” for the Portland Press Herald.

“I thought he was good for the Maine newspaper industry because he turned the (Portland Press Herald) around.  Most people I know in the area think the paper is much more interesting under his leadership,” Baker said.

“I don’t know anyone in this industry that has worked as hard as he worked in the last three or four years,” Baker added of Connor.

Christopher Hall, senior vice president of the Portland Regional Chamber, said he was “surprised and saddened” by the departure of Connor, who he called a “very generous supporter” of the chamber.

Connor is on the board of the Portland Community Chamber, an affiliate of the Regional Chamber.

Hall mentioned a “memorial speech” Connor made about challenges in the newspaper industry at a chamber event in September 2009, shortly after Connor joined MaineToday Media.

“He was taking up a challenge many people weren’t sure he could meet,” said Hall. “Much to people’s happiness, we still have a paper, and I give him credit for stepping up and being a leader. His departure is hard to hear.”

Regional Chamber CEO Godfrey Wood said he wasn’t surprised by Connor’s departure, given “how hard he’s been working.”  He said Connor had spoken of long hours and travel.

In the MaineToday media release, Connor said he “led a significant transformation of this company.”

“We just reported the first increase in paid circulation in almost five years. The Portland Press Herald was recognized as the Best Daily Newspaper in Maine by the Maine Press Association two weeks ago. Our websites and online products have been totally revamped, and a digital division was started two months ago. Our website traffic is now the highest in the state,” he said.

Connor said MaineToday has transformed into “literally a new media company with an emphasis on online.”

“Now the company needs to leverage the new foundation into the next phase,” he said. “After four years of work with a schedule that has been around the clock, seven days a week, it’s time for change for me personally, my family, and for the company. I remain a significant individual investor in the company and I believe in its future.”

 

11:23 a.m.

PORTLAND — MaineToday Media CEO Richard L. Connor announced his resignation from the company today and will step down on Dec. 31, according to a media release.

The company, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, The Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, will be run by an interim management team while a search is conducted for Connor’s successor.

“My work on this project began late in December of 2007, and since then, I have led a significant transformation of this company,” said Connor in the release. “We just reported the first increase in paid circulation in almost five years. The Portland Press Herald was recognized as the Best Daily Newspaper in Maine by the Maine Press Association two weeks ago. Our websites and online products have been totally revamped, and a digital division was started two months ago. Our website traffic is now the highest in the state.”

Connor said MaineToday has transformed into “literally a new media company with an emphasis on online.”

“Now the company needs to leverage the new foundation into the next phase,” he said. “After four years of work with a schedule that has been around the clock, seven days a week, it’s time for change for me personally, my family, and for the company. I remain a significant individual investor in the company and I believe in its future.”