Morning media roundup: How to save a Maine newspaper

Guild and new editor responsible for rescuing Maine paper: The Portland Newspaper Guild “threw a Hail Mary pass” to save The Portland Press Herald, writes Janelle Hartman. After the dispiriting tenure of a previous CEO of MaineToday Media and faced with the prospect of a new owner who wanted to “shred their contract,” the Guild reached out quietly to Donald Sussman, husband to Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree.

>>”By Friday, Feb. 10, Sussman and the MaineToday board had struck a deal; a multimillion-dollar loan in exchange for an equity stake and board seat — with no editorial strings attached. Sussman made it clear he had no desire to meddle.”

>>The Guild received a 15 percent ownership stake in the company in exchange for concessions it rendered in the paper’s 2008 sale. When Aaron Kushner made a bid for the papers and demanded cuts, the Guild thought it was “the same thing we’d seen fail over the last two ownerships — cutting labor costs, squeezing here and there, and big promises to improve the quality with no kind of logical nexus about how that’s going to happen,” the Guild’s Greg Kesich told Hartman.

>>Al Diamon says under new editor Cliff Schechtman, the Press Herald is looking good. “This fresh approach doesn’t seem to be originating with the reporters – they’re the same ones who’ve been slogging along as the company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy for the past several months – so the difference must be coming from the editorial office.”

>>MaineToday Media also owns the Kennebec Journal, the Morning Sentinel, the Coastal Journal, and the Maine Sunday Telegram (the Press Herald’s Sunday paper).

Post lands CmdrTaco: Rob Malda, founder of Slashdot, joins the Washington Post as chief strategist and editor at large for WaPo Labs. “Don Graham is trying to accomplish something that is a bit of a cliche these days: A startup inside an established corporation,” Malda writes on his blog. “A group that can exist at a nexus between newspapers, websites, cable networks, and TV stations and think about the big picture and the future without the normal burdens associated with a business operating at a large scale.”

>>This is the second biggish personnel announcement from the Post since its disappointing 4Q results; on Friday it announced the departure of digital revenue officer Ken Babby.

Doug Manchester, who owns U-T San Diego, is interested in acquiring The Orange County Register.

• Time is partnering with Foursquare, an app that lets your friends tell you where they buy the most coffee, to offer badges and “a visualization of convention activity” at the Democratic and Republican conventions.

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