Our Viewpoint: The Portland Phoenix, one year later

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When the new Portland Phoenix was launched exactly one year ago, we said we had “optimism, leavened with faith.” 

That faith came in very handy in a launch year marked by the catastrophe of a worldwide pandemic that struck hard locally.

The year 2020 will not easily be forgotten. Even as COVID-19 raged, it was made worse by a national administration that fumbled the pandemic response as it fanned flames of hatred and division, refusing to acknowledge the murders of Black men and women that spawned the resistance of Black Lives Matter. 

We are grateful to have made it this far and optimistic as we turn to our second year, buoyed by a new national administration and the progress of vaccines for COVID-19.

Despite the historic hardships, our first year of publication brought many happy discoveries, as we built a team of experienced newspaper professionals who came together to launch the Portland Phoenix. We have provided consistent and in-depth reporting of local and state issues.  We are proud of our reporting, including the first in-depth print interview with Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention; investigations of questionable practices in the Maine prison system; a detailed examination of a developer’s plan to build Maine’s tallest building in the center of Portland’s Old Port, and another examination of plans to redefine and possibly close the Long Creek Youth Development Center. We have presented in-depth stories not found in the monopoly that controls most of Maine’s newspapers.

We present a strong array of columnists each week, including Al Diamon, Edgar Allen Beem, Andrew Marsters, and Ekhlas Ahmed on our Opinion pages, and Natalie Ladd with her distinctive personal observations. We have strengthened the local music, theatre, and fine arts coverage that was a hallmark of the original Phoenix founded in Boston in 1968. We were pleased to receive recognition for our work from the Maine Press Association. 

As we enter our second year, we want to thank you and ask for your help. We appreciate the faith that advertisers have shown in us, and we have tried to work with them to provide an attractive newspaper and website that is a good platform for your businesses. We understand that this year has presented a financial challenge as our advertisers have struggled with the personal and economic impact of the pandemic.

One of the things we have missed in the past eight months of the pandemic is the chance to be out in the community, meeting with readers and advertisers in person. So we would like you to write to marian@portlandphoenix.me and let us know what you think about the new Portland Phoenix, and what you want us to cover.

At the end of our first year, we think we’ve done pretty well in carrying out the promise in our initial mission statement:

“Our job is to dig for the news, not promote a party line. We can ask the right questions and analyze the issues, but we won’t be limited by unthinking orthodoxy. Our news pages won’t be filtered through the prism of ideology.”  

But our plan is to do even better in Year 2. What will make us successful going forward is an even stronger connection to our readers and advertisers. Let us hear from you.