“When one door closes,” Alexander Graham Bell said, “another door opens.”

It’s an optimistic outlook I came to appreciate 15 years ago, when I joined The Forecaster. It’s the philosophy guiding me now as I close the door on my tenure at the newspaper.

I left the Journal Tribune in Biddeford  in 2004, after 19 years as a reporter and editor at what had become one of the most respected small dailies in the country. The morning I was told I was no longer needed as city editor – because I didn’t agree with the new direction imposed by the newspaper’s absentee owners – I came across a help-wanted ad seeking a managing editor for The Forecaster.

Within a month I was back at work as part of another remarkable team of journalists, all dedicated to producing the best weekly newspapers in southern Maine. Led by Marian McCue, who will deservedly be inducted into the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame in October, and Karen Wood, who for decades was the enthusiastic, driving force behind The Forecaster’s growth and financial success, we set a high bar for community news coverage.

We weren’t a big-budget operation, but we were dedicated to high-integrity, close-to-home journalism that informed and reflected the towns and cities where our readers lived and worked. Readers came to depend on us, and to expect a level of excellence not often associated with free-distribution weeklies. We also helped launch the careers of many journalists who have excelled at daily newspapers, radio stations and magazines from Maine to California.

I believe we have continued to punch above our weight, both under ownership of the Costello family, and more recently as part of Reade Brower’s statewide collection of newspapers. Along the way we expanded to four editions covering 16 cities and towns, from Scarborough to Bath. With the addition of the American Journal in Westbrook and Lakes Region Weekly, there are few corners of Cumberland County that escape our staff’s attention.

We even impress readers in parts of the state we don’t cover. “I really enjoyed your paper, The Forecaster, that I picked up at Hannaford’s in Sanford,” David S. Smith of Springvale said in a letter just last week. “Keep them coming.”

That’s easier said than done. While our acquisition in 2017 by Brower was announced with a promise of “business as usual,” the newspaper business the past two years has been anything but “usual.” Papers across the country face daunting financial hurdles, and the situation in Maine is no different. As part of a larger newspaper group, we have had to share the burden and adopt cost-saving measures.

Nonetheless, we have maintained our dedication to local news coverage in the communities we serve, and I hope that our reporters and editors will be able to buck the industry odds, uphold the paper’s traditional values and stay true to our mission and to our readers. If any group of journalists can do it, it’s the bunch at The Forecaster.

But I have decided that this is the right time for me to leave, and I have resigned, effective Friday, Aug. 30.

The staff will now be led by my colleague – and fellow Journal Tribune alum – John Swinconeck, who will add oversight of The Forecaster, American Journal and Lakes Region Weekly to his responsibilities as editor of The Times Record in Brunswick. I wish John all the best as he navigates the industry’s choppy seas.

What comes next? I don’t know. But my decision is not about retirement (although I’m approaching the age when my mailbox will start filling with solicitations for one Medicare plan or another). I’m keeping an eye out for that next open door.


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