ROCKPORT, Maine — The end of paid blogs on the website of Down East magazine and the exit of its publisher are not related, the company’s CEO said Wednesday.
John Viehman left his position as publisher after six years, the company announced Tuesday.
CEO Bob Fernald, who will, at least for now, fill the position, wouldn’t comment on the change or give a reason for Viehman leaving his post.
Reached by phone, Viehman also would not give the specifics, but said he has a good relationship with Down East.
“It was just time for a change,” Viehman said Wednesday. “We’re working some things out. I’m going to be representing Down East in certain venues going forward. There is a friendly relationship between me and Down East and there are some talented people there doing great work and they’ll continue to do great work.”
Viehman also said the changes are not signs of a weak magazine.
“Down East magazine is doing fine,” he said. “We have done some amazing things in the past few years, innovative things: getting into mobile media, we’ve got two apps on the market, we stream video with the Down East channel, we have a retail store at the [Portland] Jetport. These aren’t signs of trouble, this is a sign of strength. People jump to conclusions, but it’s more complicated than that.”
The blogs shutting down at the same time that Viehman left his post “just happened to happen at the same time,” Fernald said Wednesday. “The paid blogs are going away, but we have free blogs that will continue. We are also redesigning the website and we redesigned — freshened — Down East”.
Two popular writers — media critic and and humorist Al Diamon and political columnist Mike Tipping — are among the paid bloggers who will no longer be included on the site.
“Those are the two big ones we debated long and hard about what we should do,” Fernald said. “At the end of the day, people were coming just for the blogs.”
“They had a very devoted following, but it was smaller than what we needed for the overall website,” Fernald said. “They were expensive and not contributing much to the overall business whereas the contests, the audience-supplied photography parts of the site were very popular.”
Fernald said the magazine plans to focus more on social media now.