December 16, 2017
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Former BDN editor Woodward, Ellsworth publisher Baker to enter MPA Hall of Fame

By The Maine Press Association, Special to the BDN
Updated:

A former executive editor of the Bangor Daily News and the longtime owner and publisher of two of Maine’s top weekly newspapers will enter the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame in October.

Mark Woodward and Alan Baker were selected this month by the MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee. They will be inducted Oct. 21 during the association’s annual Fall Conference at The Atlantic Oceanside in Bar Harbor.

Woodward’s career with the Bangor Daily News spanned 38 years, including 12 in which he was executive editor. As he led the news staff, he emphasized local news and oversaw the early years of the paper’s digital platforms and coverage. He launched content sharing agreements with newspapers in Canada and Maine.

He also emphasized community involvement, serving with organizations promoting education, economic development and elder care, and helped to establish a statewide courts and media committee to resolve issues of mutual concern to journalists and the judiciary.

Woodward joined the Bangor Daily News in 1971 as a city reporter. He became editorial page editor in 1982 and helped shape public opinion in Maine for 15 years. He left the paper for eight months to be communications director for Sen. Susan Collins in Washington, D.C., in 1997. He was named executive editor in the fall of that year.

Woodward always valued the special role of a family-owned newspaper in Maine’s small communities, and especially in Bangor.

He retired on Jan. 1, 2010. In the paper’s article announcing his retirement, Mike Dowd, an editor who worked with Woodward for nearly 30 years, said, “It would be simple to measure Mark’s impact on the newsroom by the numerous awards the BDN has won under his stewardship. I think Mark’s leadership is best measured by the enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication our staffers display day in and day out. It all stems from his can-do attitude.”

Woodward is the eighth MPA Hall of Fame entrant to have spent most of their career with the Bangor Daily News.

Baker, owner and publisher of The Ellsworth American and the Mount Desert Islander, is known for his fervent belief that newspapers should be owned by individuals who are available and accountable to the communities they serve.

He has been a strong supporter of public notice and right-to-know laws in Maine, and has not hesitated to back up his papers’ insistence on openness by suing to prevent government officials from keeping the public’s work secret.

A native of Orrington, Baker joined James Russell Wiggins at the American in 1986. He bought the paper from Wiggins in 1991 and remained true to the famed editor’s legacy.

The paper prospered under his guidance, expanding its operations and modernizing its printing plant. The number of employees doubled, advertising revenue quadrupled and the paper began publishing award-winning special sections and supplements.

In 2001, Baker launched the Mount Desert Islander, a weekly in Bar Harbor that competed with a long-established, corporate-owned paper, which folded in 2012. He understood, in an era of shrinking news holes and news staffs, that content would ensure a community newspaper’s survival and success.

The Islander and the American have been recognized multiple times as the best weekly papers in Maine, New England and even the nation.

“None of that would be possible were it not for Mr. Baker’s insistence that the paper have the resources it needs to adequately serve the community,” said Earl Brechlin, the Islander’s editor since its first issue, in a letter nominating Baker for the MPA Hall of Fame. “His mantra is ‘content sells newspapers.’”

The MPA Hall of Fame, established in 1998, honors newspaper people with Maine connections who have made outstanding contributions to the profession. Its members are on the MPA website, at http://mainepressassociation.org/hall-of-fame/

Tickets to the Hall of Fame luncheon are available by contacting MPA Executive Director Diane Norton at mainepressmail@gmail.com or 691-0131.

 


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