Maine’s largest media company changed hands Monday when a company led by Reade Brower of Camden, a media executive and entrepreneur, bought the assets of MaineToday Media from Donald Sussman, the Maine financier and philanthropist who rescued the company from insolvency in 2012.

The sale, for an undisclosed sum, marks the fourth ownership change in 17 years. Brower said his focus now is to build on the foundation established by Sussman and position the company for long-term sustainability.

The properties include three daily newspapers – the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and the Kennebec Journal in Augusta – the weekly Coastal Journal in Bath, the papers’ various websites and, the arts and entertainment website.

“It is my honor to take over the stewardship of these respected newspapers from Donald Sussman,” Brower said in a statement.

Brower said he aims to build on the MaineToday Media newspapers’ success of watchdog and investigative reporting over the past three years, a period in which Sussman spent $13 million to hire reporters and editors, buy new equipment and make other improvements.

Brower noted that he had pledged to make the sale process a smooth transition and had offered jobs to 98 percent of MaineToday Media’s 400 workers, at similar wages and benefits.


A top priority now, he said, will be developing a cost-effective plan for printing the newspapers. They currently are produced on obsolete presses in South Portland. Brower has indicated that the company’s future depends on updating the aging printing facility or moving the operation to Brunswick, where his Alliance Press company is located.

Brower, 58, also owns four weekly newspapers in the midcoast.

In an interview Monday, Brower said he didn’t have a timetable yet for deciding the best path forward for the printing consolidation, which will be led by Chris Miles, chief executive officer of Alliance Press. Noting that Sussman had invested heavily to upgrade and replace obsolete publishing systems, Brower called the printing press “the last remaining problem.”

Brower takes over the media company at a time when daily newspapers are struggling to retain ad revenue and paid readership. But Brower said he was encouraged by the roughly 3 percent circulation gains for the first quarter of the year reported by MaineToday Media, which was attributed to improved retention of existing subscribers and the addition of digital-only subscribers. The company instituted a digital paywall last year that limits free page views.

“The strength in the circulation results demonstrates there is an audience willing to pay to access quality journalism,” he said in a statement. “Our plan will be to build on this successful approach.”

Brower repeated that he is largely a hands-off manager and will leave day-to-day decisions about the newspapers to Lisa DeSisto, MaineToday Media’s publisher, and her management team. But he did express the view that he felt free of two constraints that were present during Sussman’s ownership, which he identified as financial and political.

On the financial side, Monday’s sale has left MaineToday Media free of the millions of dollars of bank debt it inherited when Richard Connor managed the newspapers, until 2012. Brower didn’t disclose details, but said debt now is at “sustainable levels.”

He also said that Sussman’s marriage to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, gave some readers a perception that the paper was influenced by liberal-leaning political positions.

“That put Donald in a no-win situation,” Brower said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.