October 10, 2013

A Word With the Boss: Down East editor steered career to beloved Maine

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Kathleen Fleury left the New York publishing scene to return to Maine. “It’s just the way I want to live my life,” she says.

Courtesy of Down East

It’s also changing how we connect with readers. To have a relationship with your readers that social media allows for is so terrific. Our readers are why we are what we are today. People have viewed us as an authority on Maine for 60 years and to be able to communicate with them and hear their perspective, that’s so lucky and makes our jobs – to create a magazine that they want to read – easier. I think the tablets are obviously a game-changing technology, but we haven’t seen it play out yet. We have a digital edition and we’ll see where it goes. I’m excited to be at the helm right now. My focus is to bring that mystique and experience of Maine to the world and to translate what we’ve done in 60 years at the magazine to other formats, while maintaining a really strong print magazine. 

Q: There are sometimes downsides to technology, though. Down East was involved in a controversy recently when it came to light that some utility poles and power lines were Photoshopped out of a cover photo. Was that your decision?

A: That was done when Paul Doiron (now editor emeritus) was editor-in-chief, but our philosophies are pretty similar. We have several core values at the magazine and one is authenticity and another is beauty, and it’s really important to balance those core values. We try to be very conservative in our use of Photoshop. But it’s standard magazine protocol, and this is one of the differences between magazines and newspapers. It’s been an informative debate and we take it seriously. We were trying to create a dream-like cover, and that cover was meant to convey a feeling and I feel like we did that. But it was great to get the feedback and that tells me we’re important to people. 

Q: So many people come to Maine for a weekend. How do you spend your weekends in Maine?

A: My life is my job and that is great. I don’t have an 8 to 5 job, I have a 24/7 job. This morning I went to my daughter’s music class near Rockport and stopped in at my favorite place to have breakfast, with great blueberry pancakes. Right now, my partner and daughter are taking a hike. And tomorrow we’ll go on a hayride and apple picking. That’s kind of a typical weekend, and sometimes we’ll get down to Portland and drop our daughter with the grandparents and we’ll go out to eat. I’m kind of passionate about food, and what’s going on in the Maine food scene is just amazing. To be able to experience it and then to write about it is even better. To be able to be at Popham Beach with Ella is so fun and makes me appreciate what so many people love about Maine – it’s not just the places, but the people and the philosophy and the acceptance. Maine is magical to kids – to Ella, apple picking is the best thing we could possibly do.

Duane Doolittle (who founded the magazine) called Maine “our parcel of Earth.” I like to refer to it that way and to remember how our parcel of Earth is so special.

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