Eyeing a year of growth, Pine Tree Watch welcomed its third full-time staff member this month.
Meg Robbins began work as our first-ever managing editor Feb. 18 and will oversee the newsroom’s editorial process and network of journalists going forward. She joins Executive Director and Publisher Dan Dinsmore and reporter and ProPublica Local Reporting Network Fellow Samantha Hogan in the newsroom’s office in Augusta.
Robbins, 25, comes to our newsroom from the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, where she covered local government, schools, spot news and enterprise stories as a reporter for one of Maine’s most widely circulated daily newspapers. There, she tackled accountability projects that, for instance, led the state department of transportation to stop using a road sealant after linking its usage to a near-fatal crash. She also witnessed first-hand the challenges facing the local news industry and the need for more in-depth investigative reporting in Maine.
In her role as managing editor, Robbins will be responsible for editing and producing each issue while also reporting and writing her own investigative and enterprise stories. Her hiring will allow Dinsmore to spend more time focused on organizational growth in his role as Executive Director of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting — the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that publishes the digital media outlet.
Robbins is no stranger to the newsroom. As a reporting fellow for the organization in 2015, she created the award-winning Making Connections database that put state legislators’ sources of income alongside bills they sponsored that year to expose potential conflicts of interest. She continued to update this resource in the following years and, among other projects, contributed data reporting to MCPIR co-founder Naomi Schalit’s Single Parents in Poverty series.
Her work as a multimedia journalist has taken her as far as South Africa, where she spent a year researching, filming and editing a documentary about the decolonization of stand-up comedy and its power to heal the nation from one of the world’s most oppressive racist regimes. The film has been honored at festivals around the world, including, most recently, at the Margaret Mead Documentary Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
She completed internships at the Vineyard Gazette in Edgartown, Mass., the American Society of Magazine Editors in New York and NJ Spotlight, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news outlet in her home state of New Jersey. She has won several awards for her reporting across New England.
Robbins first moved to Maine to earn her bachelor’s degree at Bowdoin College, where she majored in English and, unofficially, in the student newspaper, The Bowdoin Orient. Though a flatlander by definition, her Maine roots go back centuries to rural Dexter and Dover-Foxcroft, home of her maternal ancestors. Robbins now lives in Portland.