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Turning 10

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By Mike Fern

Publisher

BANGOR – There's only a few times in life where you have a chance to make a difference. It doesn't matter whether it's in your community, your family, a church or an employer where what you do has a direct impact on the lives of others.

 

For some in our community, however, those moments come more often. Those in the media share a unique responsibility in doing just that - what they do, how they write, what they tell their readers or viewers, and what they say has such an impact.

Having been in the media business for nearly 30 years now, I've seen the transformation of what used to be the primary methods of how people are informed – many decades of TV and newspapers – to what we see today: instantaneous coverage of events happening around the world often fueled by social media and websites. 

Yet it wasn't so long ago when TV and radio dominated decades of new coverage. I recall moments in history where I was often in the newsrooms of the newspapers I've worked for over that time, watching events of the world unfold on television only to see news staffers spring into action once a story develops.

As O.J Simpson was being pursued by Los Angeles police in 1994, I was glued to a TV along with an entire newsroom as the chase was unfolding live.

On September 11, 2001, I had just left a meeting when everyone in the newsroom was captivated by the images on television as the first of the Twin Towers in New York burned after being hit by jetliner. It wasn't soon after when we saw the second plane hit the South Tower, almost as if it was an action film unfolding before our very eyes.

And being in the media, it was amazing to see how journalists would do what they do best – report the news and its impact on the community. Good or bad, journalists are here for a reason.

The genesis for The Maine Edge, however, came out of a need not for covering the hard news in the greater Bangor area. We have a daily newspaper for that - and they do a good job. Instead, the need was to create a culturally-based alternative publication that would primarily serve the arts, cover entertainment, a little bit of news, some issues here and there, and provide readers with an outlet that could tell you what's happening, where to go and what to do.

And I think we've done that well over the years. More importantly, we've even covered some serious stuff along the way. From advocating for a new arena, which we now call the Cross Insurance Center, to Maine's Lyme epidemic and even challenging the state on their use of highly corrosive road brine, we've done some good work the past 10 years. For that, I credit our staff, our writers and photographers.

And for the many businesses we've helped over the years, many who have advertised with us the entire time we've published, we can't thank them enough.

I often say the First Amendment guarantees we can exist. Yet it is our community that has allowed us to. For that, I'll always be thankful. 

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My time on the (Maine) Edge

By Allen Adams

Assignment Editor/Staff Writer

Ten years is a long time. A lot of things can happen in a decade. For instance, it’s long enough for an upstart weekly to become a key component of the cultural fabric of a community (not necessarily a HUGE component, mind you, but we’ve got our fans out there). And along the way, the City of Bangor has grown and changed in ways I never could have anticipated.

So we’re celebrating 10 years of The Maine Edge this week. Honestly, it seems crazy to think about. It’s difficult to know what to say, really.

What do you say about a job that is more than a job?

My work here at The Maine Edge stopped being “just a job” years ago – if it ever was. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life both professionally and personally, offering opportunities and opening doors that I never might have seen otherwise.

I’ve been part of this team for just about nine of those years – I actually published my first piece (a review of a PTC production of “The Santaland Diaries”) in these pages in mid-December of 2007. I know, I know – it seems like I’ve been here from the get-go. Sometimes I forget that I wasn’t.

But I wasn’t here for the infancy of The Edge, those first few months when the crew here was first learning how to walk, discovering the best ways to do what they do on the fly. Starting something new takes guts. And while there might have been the occasional mistake or misstep along the way, that’s one thing that this team never lacked – guts.

They took a chance on me, after all.

In December of 2007, I walked into The Edge’s old basement offices on Main Street with a couple of samples and a desire to get back to writing for a living. Only this time, I was looking to write what I want to write. And from the look of The Maine Edge, this was a chance to do just that.

After an interview and that “Santaland” review – an audition of sorts – I was invited to join the team as a part-time writer. My first few pieces were… let’s just say they were passable, though it wasn’t long before I found my voice.

At the same time, another gentleman (whose name escapes me after these many years) was also hired as a part-time writer. Well, it turns out that the other guy wasn’t great at following through on assignments or, you know, showing up.

And so, just a few weeks after I began, Katy England took me to lunch. The question The Edge’s decision-makers had asked themselves was a simple one – why hire another part-time writer if we could just make Allen full-time? And just like that, the trajectory of my professional life was changed.

(So yeah – thanks, fellow writer whose name I really wish I remembered. You definitely did me a solid.)

I’ve spent the months and years since doing my level best to be the finest writer that I can be. I’ve written hundreds of movie reviews and book reviews. I’ve enjoyed bringing attention to the region’s many talented performing arts organizations, seeing scores of shows professional, community and academic. I’ve tried to write accurate previews and predictions of sporting events – and embraced my general inability to do so. I’ve had the opportunity to interview interesting and talented people – including a few of my personal heroes.

Over the past nine months, I’ve been adjusting to a new hat – that of editor. It has been an interesting transition, though a bit less bumpy than perhaps I thought it would be. Taking more direct control of the editorial side of things has been quite a journey, but I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had to sacrifice my first love – writing.

A lot has changed in 10 years. But one thing has remained the same – the loyalty of our readers. So to all of you out there, whether you’ve been with us since the beginning or you’re just now turning our pages for the first time, I say thank you. Thank you for traveling with us on this journey. Thank you for embracing us the way that you have.

Thank you for an incredible 10 years. And here’s to many more.

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Feeling edgy

By Katy England

Former Assignment Editor

When things change, it can be uncomfortable. And at the time, you can be unsure if it’s for the better. Which was how I found myself at The Maine Edge. When Kim Whitmore called to say they had a position to offer me as a writer – what writer doesn’t want to hear that? – I was still nervous, because change is scary. But it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life and continues to have an impact on my life, even though I’m not an active member of the staff.

Working for such a small business helped change my perception of personal responsibility. Everyone had to pull their weight in order for the product to see the light of day. The first paper was published on Dec. 13, 2006 – staff stayed up the entire night to do layout. I still remember walking to my car at around 5:30 a.m. that morning. It changed the way I approached work. When you work for a large place, where someone else can swoop in and cover your work, there’s less to worry about. But when you have a deadline, and you’re the only person with the interview notes – if you don’t make that deadline, no one will. And that applied not just to the writers, but our sales staff who busted their butts to help get ads in the paper and keep the lights on. Which means each advertiser helped us personally. And it means a lot.

I remember some of the first calls I made to people when I was fishing for stories – having to explain that we were a new publication. It was scary, but also liberating. And it gave me a front row pass to explore one of my favorite things: Maine. One of the things I miss the most about the job is the chance to meet new people, for no other reason than to find out what makes them interesting or what they enjoy about living in this state that we share.

And I met the best people that way. There was a spattering of famous folk that I got to chat with, but my most interesting conversations were with people who live, work and play right here. And I made friends.

And then I went and had kids. Not the normal way, nope, that would have been too easy. I had triplets and somehow managed to keep meeting deadlines with less sleep and cramming in phone interviews while the kids napped (or didn’t). And my coworkers forgave my sleep-deprived brain and let me write about what it was like to be woefully outnumbered by my offspring. Which let me keep a record of the rollercoaster ride that is my life.

The Maine Edge is one of the best things that ever happened to me, professionally and personally. And I think it is wonderful that they can begin to count their accomplishments in decades, rather than in simply months or years. I want to thank them for letting me get my words dipped in ink – and I want to thank you for reading them.

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How do I love thee, Maine Edge? Let me count the ways

By Mike Dow

Staff Writer

When the first issue of The Maine Edge arrived 10 years ago, I was very happy that we finally had an area arts and entertainment-oriented publication that covered things people care about. I was a fan of The Edge long before I ever submitted an article.

Whether I was reading Katy England’s story of a Maine State Police ride-along, an Allen Adams movie review that was spot-on in its analysis and criticism, Todd Parker’s wacked-out advice column or a story written by publisher Mike Fern involving a local business, The Edge’s writers always made me feel that I was along for the ride. That’s something I’ve strived to accomplish in the stories that I submit today.

The Edge’s only agenda is to entertain and inform on local happenings. That’s a big reason to pick it up each week (and to support the advertisers who make each issue possible).

A publication free of politics is such a rare entity in a time when most of them seem to have taken a side and are trying to tell their readers how to think. When people find The Maine Edge, they discover a safe place, free of politics and spin.

For more than five years, I was an Edge contributor and have greatly enjoyed the process of putting stories together. Many of my stories feature interviews with people involved in music, film, television and comedy. I discovered early on that the name – The Maine Edge – intrigued some of those people. They would tell me that they checked it out online before the interview and liked what they saw.

A few months ago, I joined The Edge as a staff writer and am very excited about that. While radio is still my full-time occupation, this part-time position allows me to keep interviewing interesting people and writing stories that will (hopefully) make the reader feel as if they are in the room.

Happy 10th birthday to The Maine Edge! Here’s to the next decade of entertaining, informing and just being fabulous. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 December 2016 11:55

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