Welcome to The Forecaster Coastal Journal Edition.

Starting today, MaineToday Media is delivering what we believe will be the best of two worlds: a weekly newspaper with the Mid-Coast Forecaster’s dedication to local news, sports and opinion, and the Coastal Journal’s commitment to human interest, lifestyle and arts coverage.

As my colleague John Swinconeck, executive editor of The Times Record, explained in last week’s Coastal Journal, the decision to combine two longstanding, competing newspapers wasn’t made hastily or without good reason. In this case, the cause is largely economic – the financial pressure on newspapers prevents us from continuing to publish two viable papers. To ignore the economic environment would likely have allowed both publications to flounder.

Our goal, to borrow an old phrase, is to make The Forecaster Coastal Journal Edition greater than the sum of its parts.

We know change can be unsettling, and there’s no doubt readers of both newspapers may miss some familiar, favorite features. Space dictates that we’ve had to make decisions about what is included in the combined paper and what isn’t, and we hope you’ll allow the changes to grow on you – and give us some time to work out the kinks – before you pass judgment.

We believe you’ll ultimately be pleased with what we have to offer.

For starters, you’ll find some familiar bylines on our news and feature stories: longtime Forecaster staff writer Alex Lear covering Bath and Topsham, newly hired reporter Patti McDonald writing from Brunswick, Harpswell and Freeport, and former Coastal Journal contributor Kelli Park roaming the entire region.

Joining them are a foursome of former Coastal Journal columnists:

• Karen Schneider of Cundy’s Harbor with kitchen-tested recipes in “Cooking at the Cove.”

• Brunswick’s Sande Updegraph sharing dining suggestions in “Sande’s Picks.”

• Zac McDorr of Bath exploring “Coastal History.”

• And Maine Press Association Hall of Fame journalist Bob Kalish of Arrowsic, who brings “Over Easy” to our Opinion pages, where he’ll run alongside two Brunswick-based columnists from The Forecaster: Edgar Allen Beem and Heather D. Martin.

Add award-winning Sports Editor Michael Hoffer; our Arts & Entertainment and Community calendars; People & Business news; School Notebook, and of course, Police Beat, and we believe it’s a winning weekly news package that won’t disappoint devoted readers of either The Forecaster or the Coastal Journal.

We hope you’ll agree, and trust you’ll let us know what you think.

Mo Mehlsak is executive editor of The Forecaster, American Journal and Lakes Region Weekly. He can be reached at 780-9107 or [email protected]. You can also follow Mo on Twitter: @mmehlsak.

MaineToday Media Chief Executive Lisa DeSisto, left, chats with Liz Wyman of the Plant Memorial Home assisted living facility, and Lucy Boenitz of Pamela’s World jewelry store, Wednesday, Feb. 27, at a launch party for The Forecaster Coastal Journal Edition at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath.

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