Veteran BDN reporter retires

Posted June 25, 2009, at 6:34 p.m.

Veteran reporter Diana Graettinger, who covered much of Washington County for the Bangor Daily News for more than two decades, has announced her retirement effective today.

Replacing Graettinger is award-winning reporter Sharon Kiley Mack, who has covered Somerset and southern Penobscot counties from Pittsfield for the BDN for more than 20 years. Mack already has moved to Machias and begun working in her new coverage area.

A search is being conducted by the BDN to find a replacement for Mack in mid-Maine.

Graettinger, 65, is a Wisconsin native who moved to Maine 30 years ago to achieve her dream of living on the coast. She quickly found work as a journalist, serving as news director for WQDY-FM in Calais. She then wrote for a local weekly newspaper before being hired as a reporter in the Machias bureau of the BDN.

“When I took the job, I thought I would do it for about two years and then look for something else to do. That was 22-plus years ago,” said Graettinger, who has worked out of the Calais bureau for the past several years. “It has been a great ride. Working for the BDN has been my dream job. As a reporter, I’ve done everything from riding an elephant through Calais — as a news story, of course; to tandem jumping out of a helicopter at 10,000 feet — as a news story, of course.”

Graettinger won numerous Maine Press Association awards while with the BDN and also was honored by the Maine Library Association for articles she wrote dealing with the Patriot Act.

“I loved working for the BDN — it is a quality company with a mission to bring the very best in news coverage to our readers,” she said.

A. Mark Woodward, executive editor of the BDN, praised Graettinger for her contributions to the paper.

“The job of bureau reporter is probably the toughest assignment a journalist can draw,” Woodward said Thursday. “You’re continually in the eye of local controversy with people you see every day at the coffee shop or the grocery store. Her strong self-confidence and professional competence allowed Diana to thrive in this situation. She was perfectly cast as the local bureau reporter, a role she respected and loved.”

Graettinger said she plans to play a lot of golf in her retirement, but may not be done working.

“I haven’t yet decided what I want to be when I grow up. But I will find something to do during the last third of my life,” she said.

A former second-grade teacher, Mack began her career in journalism at two central Maine weekly newspapers — The Valley Times and the Eastern Gazette — before joining the BDN 22 years ago. She has covered statewide agriculture issues in addition to covering the mid-Maine area.

“Although I loved working in central Maine and will never forget the wonderful people there that let me into their lives over the years, I am tremendously excited to now report from Down East,” said Mack, who has six children and three grandchildren. “I have been visiting family members in the area for many years and I have come to love the area’s beauty, culture and people. I am looking forward to telling their stories as well as continuing my agriculture specialty.”

Graettinger said local readers will quickly embrace Mack.

“I couldn’t have a better replacement. She is an experienced journalist with a lot of energy. She will hit the ground running and by Monday, few people will remember that she hasn’t been the reporter here for the last decade,” Graettinger said.

The BDN is closing its Calais office effective today. Mack, who will work out of her home in Machias, can be reached at 631-4904. Her e-mail address will be announced in the near future.

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