A sequence of events leading up to - and possibly related to
- the abrupt resignation of Richard Connor from MaineToday Media today.
June 2009 Richard Connor buys the Portland Press
Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal, and Central Maine Morning
Sentinel from the Blethen family. The deal involves part ownership by the
members of the newspapers' employee unions, as well as investments from major
real-estate developers in the Portland
area. It involves major staffing reductions and pay cuts for those who remain.
Throughout 2009 Connor makes the rounds of community
organizations, business groups, and other events, introducing himself as a Bangor native who has been away from Maine for more than 40 years, but is back
home and glad to be here. He vows to make the newspapers profitable by the end
of the year, and to improve its coverage and relationships within the
community. He repeatedly and publicly - both in appearances and in print - establishes
himself as the newspaper's editor, publisher, public face, decision-maker,
local-boy-made-good, prodigal-son-returning, and buck-stops-here-guy.
September 2009 The Press Herald's building at 390 Congress Street
is sold to developer John Cacoulidis. Bobby Monks, who's one of the investors in the company.
Early 2010 Connor announces the newspapers are indeed
profitable, as a result of spending cuts and revenue increases.
May 2010 Leaving 390 Congress, the newspaper staff moves to
Monks-owned rental space in One
June 2011 The union contracts - renegotiated during the 2010
deal - expire; union members make clear they are expecting raises and other
improvements in compensation, based on Connor's statements that the company is
July-August 2011 Contract talks slow to a crawl, with the
company responding only after long delays. Union officials push to get more
access to the company's finances, but have trouble making headway.
August 2011 Connor outsources circulation call handling to a
company in Honduras,
cutting five jobs.
September 2011 Despite Connor's continues claims of
profitability, and while contract negotiations languish, a large round of buyouts and layoffs is announced, largely
hitting the unionized newsroom. The reason given is that advertising revenue is
October 2011 Early in the month, union representatives are
allowed increased access to the company's financial records. Shortly
thereafter, the company announces another significant cost reduction: Its
weekly "GO" section will no longer have an overrun printed for separate
distribution; it will remain inserted in copies of each Thursday's paper.
October 28, 2011 9:20 am Al Diamon, writing on DownEast.com,
says Connor may be in trouble. He reveals that the MaineToday board members
have been meeting, and expressed concern about a trip to Italy that
Connor took with his wife and some employees from MaineToday and the
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (a newspaper Connor owns that is separate from the
MTM investment group). Diamon also cites an unnamed source as telling him that
"board members are concerned that expenses and revenues for the Maine and Pennsylvania
companies may have been mixed [in] monthly balance sheets. The source said the
board was investigating whether that form of bookkeeping had worked to the
detriment of MaineToday's bottom line."
October 28, 2011 11:30 am The Portland Press Herald site
posts a story announcing that Connor has resigned, and will leave the company
December 31. The ownership will begin looking for a replacement immediately.
October 28, 2011 11:50 am The Portland Newspaper Guild sends
an email to its members announcing Connor's departure.