We’re back! In print, that is, and we’re determined to keep up the fight. So we’re calling in reinforcements.
In mid-April, Mainer had to make the tough call not to print a May edition. It was also a close call. Shortly before deadline, we got word that the Finance Authority of Maine had approved our loan application. They could wire us the money “in a few days.” With that cash in hand, we could pay our contributors and cover the printing bill for another month.
But we didn’t have that cash in hand, and due to the usual bureaucratic goo we wouldn’t have it by the time the presses had to roll. So we did what my beloved Buffalo Bills have done so many goddamn times over the past two decades: we punted.
In the meantime, Mainer focused on publishing more content online. If you haven’t already done so, check out what we’ve been posting at mainernews.com.
It was actually early April when political reporter Nathan Bernard exposed how the Paycheck Protection Program, championed and co-authored by Susan Collins, was failing small businesses in Maine. Another Mainer scoop later than month helped force Portland officials to back off an overly restrictive prohibition on shipping that was strangling downtown shops.
In May, we broke news that a prominent Portland developer, Kevin Bunker of Developers Collaborative, is evicting tenants from a historic building — a former school the city gave him in 2013 to create housing — so he can sell their units as condos. (Within hours of that article’s publication, Bunker was “scrambling,” according to one tenant, to offer the remaining renters a couple more months of shelter; but he’s still selling their homes mid-pandemic.)
Crash Barry started a twice-weekly podcast, Open Ears Maine, to get perspectives on the pandemic from everyday Mainers — a teacher, a postman, an innkeeper, tattoo artists — as well as some right-wing nut-jobs posing as normal folk. The interviews during the first 15 episodes have been alternately fascinating, heartbreaking and horrifying.
Although we didn’t print last month, and 90 percent of the state was shut down, including most of our advertisers, we’ve been publishing more content than ever. Mainer specializes in “watchdog journalism,” and there are a bunch of big stories in the works, ready to go as soon as the offending landlord/politician/boss jumps the junkyard fence, so to speak.
But here’s the skinny: we can’t keep doing all this without you.
When we transitioned The Bollard to Mainer a year ago this month, and transformed into a worker cooperative, we also set up a subscription system to get reader support. With help from a small percentage of our readership, we give everyone more content at no charge. Since last spring, we’ve distributed more copies of this free magazine to more parts of the state, and brought on new reporters and columnists, without putting up an online “paywall” or interrupting our podcasts with ads.
In January, our in-house subscription system at mainernews.com was targeted by a “carding” attack. None of our subscribers’ payment information was compromised, but the attack disabled the system, preventing us from signing up new subscribers.
After a couple frustrating months trying to fix the system ourselves, we punted again and switched that function over to Patreon, a much more secure and reliable platform to handle subscriptions. We also lowered the lowest subscription cost, from $9 to $6, added the option to get the print issue mailed to your home (for the higher of our two subscription levels), and created an enhanced PDF version of each issue, with bonus content, for all subscribers. Additional perks and schwag will be available this summer, like Mainer t-shirts and trucker caps.
When The Bollard commenced monthly print publication in the summer of 2008, it was the local, independently owned businesses that carried us through the Great Recession that followed. During this crisis, those advertisers — most of which are in the hospitality and arts fields — will not be able to do that, and it is we who must support them. Mainer is committed to doing this, in part by ensuring that none of our longtime ad clients loses the opportunity to reach our readers during this crisis, regardless of ability to pay.
So we’re counting on those of you who can afford to do so to join us via patreon.com/mainernews. If you’ve appreciated the work The Bollard, and now Mainer, has done over the past 15 years, and would like to enjoy at least 15 more, partner with us for the monthly cost of a pint of Maine craft beer (or two), and we’ll keep delivering the goods and busting the bad guys.
Hey, even the Patriots have to punt sometimes. Doesn’t mean you can’t still win it all.