Despite industry closings, one alternative Maine newspaper is coming back

Jake Bleiberg | BDN
Jake Bleiberg | BDN
A newspaper box offering copies of the Portland Phoenix. Under new majority ownership from former publishers of The Forecaster, the paper is expected to re-launch in mid-November.
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Under its third ownership group in five years, the Portland Phoenix is set to return in print.
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PORTLAND, Maine — Under its third ownership group in five years, the Portland Phoenix is set to return to print.

Seven months after the alternative-weekly newspaper announced it would stop publication, a cohort of veteran Maine journalists and publishers is set to relaunch the paper under a new model.

The paper will lean “on the newsier side” and follow a weekly publishing schedule, but won’t be an “alt-weekly” according to conventional standards, said Marian McCue, editor and co-owner. McCue and Karen Wood, longtime publisher of The Forecaster, are the principal owners.

“We’re hoping to do 1,500- to 1,700-word stories on major trends as well as feature news stories on what’s happening with breweries and things like that,” she said.

The inaugural issue is expected to hit the streets Nov. 13.

McCue said the paper would not be a redux of The Forecaster, even though a lot of staff had worked there.

The Phoenix will be an independent publishing venture unaffiliated with Masthead, the company owned by Reade Brower which publishes the Portland Press Herald and The Forecaster, among other Maine papers.

Before its sell to Karen Wood and McCue, the Phoenix was owned by Mark Guerringue, a New Hampshire-based publisher who owned papers in Conway, Laconia and Berlin, New Hampshire. Guerringue purchased the paper from original owner Stephen Mindich in November 2014. Guerringue will retain a small part of the paper’s ownership, and will offer support with programs and production.

Under Guerringue’s ownership, the Phoenix relied on advertising revenue splits from Masthead/Maine Today Media — an arrangement which will not be continued.

By the time it shuttered, the Phoenix was printed at Masthead.

McCue said Seacoast Printing in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, will now print the newspaper.

Mo Mehlsak, most recently executive editor of The Forecaster, American Journal and Lakes Region Weekly newspapers, will be managing editor of the Phoenix. Mehlsak resigned from The Forecaster in August. Longtime Maine political commentator Al Diamon will have a weekly column, but McCue said the editorial team has yet to hire a full-time reporter.

McCue was an editor and publisher of The Forecaster from 1990 to 2006. She worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine — then the Maine Civil Liberties Union — from 2008 to 2009. She maintained a column for The Forecaster since 2007.

The paper expects to continue the Best of Portland awards in the spring. In the paper’s hiatus, an unaffiliated Best of Portland award contest was conducted this summer by Nathan O’Leary, founder of Mainely SEO, a marketing group.

The Phoenix office will be in Falmouth, McCue said.

The Portland Phoenix was first published in September 1999.

Editor’s note: BDN reporter Nick Schroeder, who wrote this article, is the former editor of the Portland Phoenix.

 



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