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Christie to lecture on journalism’s “false god” as Donald Murray visiting professor at UNH

John Christie, editor in chief at the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, has been named the 2014 Donald M. Murray Visiting Journalist at the University of New Hampshire. Christie will give a lecture, “Leaving journalism’s false god behind,” on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at 5 p.m. in MUB Theater I.

“Journalism’s false god is the unrelenting striving for page views and click-throughs that has exacerbated our long-standing failure to adequately address readers’ demands for more credibility,” Christie said. The talk is free and open to the public. Christie, a 1970 graduate of UNH, will also visit journalism classes throughout the week and meet with the staff of The New Hampshire, the campus newspaper. Christie, the co-founder of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, is a media veteran whose 40-year career includes work in Massachusetts, Maine, and Florida as a newspaper writer, editor, general manager, and publisher. Continue Reading →

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AmazonSmile: A simple — we promise! — and easy way to support the Center

We’re not fans of those compound names that put distinct words together to make a shorter word — you know, “Bancorpsouth” or “MetLife.” They just seem like words in a hurry. Definitely inelegant. Nevertheless, we’re warming to one compound name that offers our readers a way to support us without much effort. It’s called AmazonSmile, and it’s a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization — us, we hope — every time you shop at Amazon. Continue Reading →

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Hooray! Center raises record amount in end-of-year fundraising

With help from almost 80 new donors and 45 renewing donors, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting raised just over $53,000 in our end-of-year fundraising campaign – a record-breaking total for us! A hearty thanks to all of you who contributed to this effort. With a generous matching grant for new donor gifts from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, we have gained new contributors and new readers and continue to build strong support for investigative, nonprofit journalism in Maine. We are also sending a hearty thanks to everyone who has donated this past year. Our supporters come from across Maine and beyond. Continue Reading →

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The story behind the tax break fight in Augusta

Things are usually quiet around the State House between Thanksgiving and the New Year. But not this year — because there’s nothing like a potential $40 million hole in the state budget to get a fight started. The $40 million is the amount of money the legislature promised it would take out of the $1 billion the state spends now on dozens of different tax breaks for businesses and special interests. If they can’t agree on which tax breaks to eliminate or reduce, then $40 million still has to be cut somewhere else in the state budget to keep it balanced. As the legislature’s “Tax Expenditure Review Task Force”  tries to come up with which tax breaks to put on the chopping block, it’s running into opposition because just about every break in the tax code has a champion. Continue Reading →

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We’re hiring an investigative reporting fellow

The Center has an exciting opportunity for a beginning journalist to learn the theory, skills and practice of evidence-based accountability reporting. A grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism has enabled us to establish our first Investigative Reporting Fellowship. The fellowship description follows — note the application deadline of Dec. 10, 2013. REPORTING FELLOWSHIP

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting is a nonprofit news service that specializes in investigative reporting about state and local government. Continue Reading →

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What does golf have to do with the governor?

This week, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting published Senior Reporter John Christie’s in-depth profile of Maine Gov. Paul LePage, “The Book on Paul LePage: The ‘biggest, baddest person around’ crashes Augusta’s ‘nicey-nicey’ club.”
But after six months of reporting, not everything Christie knows about LePage made it into the story. Watch a two-part interview with Christie, where he talks about LePage’s golf swing,

about what the story headline really means and why he chose to tackle the subject in the first place. Christie interview, Part 1 and Part 2

MPBN’s Irwin Gratz also interview Christie, and here’s that audio interview, in two parts: 

MPBN interview, Part I

MPBN interview, Part II

If you want to know how to set up an interview with a governor who is famously averse to the press, you can also read Christie’s Reporter’s Notebook, “How we got the LePage story,” right here.  

And last month, the Center published a two-part series, “RX for Theft, on pharmacists who abuse and steal drugs. The professional group for investigative journalists, called “Investigative Reporters and Editors,” interviewed senior reporter Naomi Schalit about how she got that story — she calls it “recreational data cruising” — and you can read that  account at “Behind the Story: Maine pharmacists get licenses despite history of drug abuse.”

 

 

  Continue Reading →

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Center hires non-profit executive, Hildie J. Lipson

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting has hired Hildie J. Lipson, a longtime nonprofit executive, as chief operating officer. “Our organization is four years old and growing and we find we need to have
an experienced non-profit executive oversee the business side of the
Center,” said Publisher John Christie in announcing Lipson’s appointment. “That will allow the Center to continue to work on sustaining itself and
also devote more effort to journalism.”

Lipson spent 16 years working at MaineShare, which distributes donations to
40 groups statewide through payroll giving and direct contributions. While
there, Lipson helped build and ultimately led a robust fundraising program
that allowed MaineShare to increase annual distributions to member groups
by 289 percent from 1996 through 2008. Continue Reading →

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Center senior reporter interviewed on MPBN about Penobscot Indian lawsuit

Naomi Schalit, senior reporter at the Center, was interviewed on Aug. 22 by MPBN’s Tom Porter about the Center’s story, “Feds want to take Penobscots’ side in suit over river rights.” You can hear the MPBN interview at this link. The story detailed how the federal government, saying “intervention … is not a step the United States takes lightly,” has asked a court to allow it to join the Penobscot Indian Nation in their lawsuit against the state over fishing and hunting rights on their ancestral river. Continue Reading →

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Is journalism failing its role in democracy?

Center founders John Christie and Naomi Schalit are giving a series of talks across the state about the role of investigative journalism in our democracy. The talk, entitled “Is journalism failing its role in democracy?”begins with the Center’s motto, from Thomas Jefferson: “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

In our presentation, we make the case for independent, investigative journalism, drawing on Kovach and Rosenstiel’s book, “The Elements of Journalism,” which sets forth this “statement of purpose” for journalism:

Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth;

Its first loyalty is to citizens;

Its essence is a discipline of verification;

Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover;

It must serve as an independent monitor of power;

It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise;

It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant;

It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional;

Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience. Along with Center material, we distribute and discuss the statement of purpose, paying special attention in our discussion to the section about how journalism is a “discipline of verification.” We describe the threats to journalism, especially accountability journalism, and how the Maine Center tries to respond to those threats. If you’d like Christie and Schalit to address your group, just give us a call at 207-620-4519, or send an email to pinetreewatchdog@gmail.com. Continue Reading →

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