This is a call to action. And if you’re reading these words, it’s meant for you.

We need to preserve local journalism in Maine.

Bill Nemitz

I write this not just as a retired columnist for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, central as that may be to my 45-year love for both newspapers and the state of Maine. I’m here today as president of the Maine Journalism Foundation, a new nonprofit organization determined to sustain and nurture Maine’s reputation as a bastion for independent local news.

Why now? Because Reade Brower, owner of Masthead Maine and its five daily and 25 weekly newspapers across Maine, recently made public his desire to step back and find “the next steward to protect and grow journalism in Maine.”

As he plans his future, Brower deserves the thanks of all Mainers for his eight-year tenure not just as owner of the state’s largest media company but as a public servant who understands to his core that reliable, informed local news reporting is the lifeblood of a healthy community. From City Hall in Portland to select boards in Maine’s smallest rural communities, Masthead Maine’s reporters, photographers and editors bring to all of us a robust flow of information that in many less fortunate regions has dwindled to a trickle – if not evaporated completely.

We at MaineJF want to be the next to carry the Masthead Maine banner. Our goal initially is to acquire the company and operate the various publications as a nonprofit. Beyond that, we will seek ways to enhance all journalism in Maine through targeted support for and collaboration with our media colleagues. Maine Public, for one, comes to mind.


Why a nonprofit?

Two reasons.

First, we’ve all seen what happens when venture capital firms – the predominant for-profit buyers of local newspapers these days – swoop into a market seeking only instant payback on their investment. Real estate and other hard assets get liquidated. Newsrooms get decimated. News – from the workings of local government to the drama of high school sports – goes unreported.

And just like that, readers like you are left in the dark. In the timeless words of Joni Mitchell, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Second, as a nonprofit, we exist solely to enhance the journalism, to enlighten our communities, to enrich the public square with real facts, with informed analysis and, most fundamentally in this age of “fake news” and disinformation, with the truth.

Our founding board of directors, soon to be expanded, includes me, Emily Barr and Bill Burke.


Barr retired to Cape Elizabeth last June after a 43-year career in broadcast television, the last 10 as president and CEO of the Graham Media Group, a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Inc., formerly known as the Washington Post Co. In addition to her role with MaineJF, she serves on the boards of The Associated Press and Carleton College.

Burke brings an extensive background in media and sports, from CEO of the Weather Channel Companies to, until recently, co-owner and chairman of the Portland Sea Dogs. Last year, he founded and launched The Optimism Institute, a new media platform that aims to inspire people with an optimistic, hopeful vision of the world and its future.

Also joining us as special advisor to the board is Public Media Company Director Carlos Barrionuevo of Georgetown. As a director of Public Media Company, he focuses on local media growth strategies and the development of sustainable models for local journalism. Barrionuevo previously served as director of business development for NPR, and he currently sits on the board of the Maine Connectivity Authority, dedicated to bringing broadband access to the entire state.

Finally, we are thrilled to be joined by Madeleine “Maddy” Corson as our honorary campaign chair. Maddy needs no introduction to Maine. From her years as chairman of Guy Gannett Communications, the media empire founded by and named for her grandfather, to her deep philanthropic commitment throughout the state, Maddy epitomizes the vision and spirit that compel us to take this leap of faith in Maine’s future.

You can learn more about each of us at You can reach out to us directly at

We know this won’t be easy. Our mission is to raise at least $15 million to acquire and nurture Masthead Maine – a goal that can be achieved only through widespread support from donors large and small.


MaineJF has registered with the state as a nonprofit public benefit corporation and is applying to the IRS for designation as a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Meanwhile, the Michigan-based Local Media Foundation has graciously offered to serve as our fiscal agent, enabling us to begin accepting tax-deductible donations immediately.

Challenging as the task ahead may be, we believe that a nonprofit news model is not only possible here but essential to Maine’s renowned independence, its vibrant commitment to civic engagement, its pride. We look to other places where nonprofit news ownership has taken root – Baltimore, New Jersey, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Texas, to name a few – and see an exciting opportunity to advance Maine’s legacy as a place where people care deeply about democracy, accountability and simply what’s happening around them.

So, we invite you to join us – while there’s still hope. We humbly ask for your support before some faraway mercenary interest guts your local newsroom and leaves you to wonder who’s doing what – and where, and why and how.

The time to act is now.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at

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