The birth and death of an acronym

Everything you see here is new as of today, Jan. 7, 2010.

A new organization for a new year — presenting its first story.

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting is perhaps not as grand as its name — just yet. Right now, it’s just one full-time “employee” — me — and an advisory board. I hold down all the jobs: executive director, senior reporter, fixer of computers (not very good at that), office manager, fundraiser, etc.

I do have a partner who wants to be listed as my “personal chef.” She gets the same pay I get: nothing.

I could call this group MCPIR, but one of my writerly pet peeves is the overuse of acronyms, so that’s the last time you’ll see me refer to “McPeer.” On second reference, I’ll call it the Center.

The story you see on this page about Maine tax reform is an example of the type of in-depth reporting we’ll be doing. I plan to write about how state government really works, who really benefits, who gets taken care of and who doesn’t. I also expect to look into the claims of some the candidates running for governor.

For the past few months, as I’ve worked on the tax reform story, I’ve personally paid the expenses of the Center, such as insurance and web page development. It’s the least I can do for the business that gave me a decent living for 40 years — and, more important, gave meaning to my life.

But, as Samuel Johnson said, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”

Newspapers don’t have much money these days, so the Center’s stories are being provided to our media partners as a public service.

The Center is in the process of incorporating and then will apply for non-profit status and will seek foundation grants and donations. But until that happens, I’ll continue to report and write pro bono.

So, call me a blockhead. I’ve been called worse, and if I do my job, I expect more of the same.

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