What’s new: Otten, McCue, Schalit and more partners

A new story, a new series, a new full-time staff member and new contributing writer, new media partners … things are happening at the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.
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The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting is a nonprofit newsroom focused on being an investigative watchdog for the people of Maine.

A new story, a new series, a new full-time staff member and new contributing writer, new media partners … things are happening at the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.

Today’s story on Les Otten, a Republican candidate for governor of Maine, is the third in-depth story published by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting since the first of the year.

The Otten piece will be followed by critical examinations of other prominent candidates in the June 8 primary, both Republicans and Democrats. Between the primary and the November final election, we will also look at the leading independent candidates (they are not on the party primary ballot in June).

These candidate stories are not meant to be the standard profiles of the candidates. Those will be done by the state’s newspapers and the Associated Press. Rather, the Center’s stories will supplement other coverage by looking deeply into a single but critical area of a candidate’s record.

In Otten’s case, he is best known as the founder and chief executive officer of American Skiing Co., and cites his business success as a qualification to be the next governor. That’s the reason our story delves deeply into Otten’s leadership of American Skiing.

The Otten piece was co-written with new contributing writer, Marian McCue, the former editor and owner of the Forecaster newspapers in greater Portland.

The full-time staff member is veteran journalist and a voice Mainers know from her reporting days at Maine Public Radio, Naomi Schalit. Naomi joins the Center as executive director and senior reporter. She’s sharing organization duties, including fundraising, with me, and writes and edits stories.

Our new partners are the four Village Soup papers in the mid-coast and Augusta area (Herald Gazette, Republican Journal, Capitol Weekly and Bar Harbor Times); the Current newspapers in and around Portland (The Current, American Journal, Lakes Region Weekly, Weekly Observer, Reporter and Sun Chronicle); the four editions of the Forecaster newspapers of greater Portland; and the Downeast Coastal Press in Cutler.

Some readers have asked about who funds the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. The straight answer right now is that we are all donating our time and paying for our expenses, such as libel insurance, website hosting, etc., from our own pockets.

That’s the nature of any startup. We expect, though, to be incorporated soon as a non-profit and be able to accept donations and apply for foundation grants. We’ll be more than happy — and relieved — to let you know when you can send us donations so we can continue to provide this sort of journalism to the citizens of Maine. If you’d like to be on our contact list, please send us an email at mainecenter@gmail.com.


John Christie

John Christie is the co-founder, former publisher and former senior reporter of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. He has covered local, state and national politics as a reporter, editor and publisher at newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts and Florida and holds a BA in political science from the University of New Hampshire.
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Risky business: Les Otten and the rise and fall of American Skiing Co.

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