The Bangor Daily News over the past year has made a real push to become Maine's primary news source. Starting with a foray into Portland in 2010 and 2011 as the Press Herald's position weakened amid uncertainty and bad leadership, the BDN in 2012 went beyond simply adding staff and paying more attention to the southern part of the state. Its online wing, bangornews.com, partnered with major college newspapers around the state, as well as other news outlets (such as the Sun Journal-owned Forecaster newspapers) to aggregate their content online. This even extended to bloggers like Munjoy Hill's Carol McCracken (previously an independent online poster) and politico Mike Tipping, who lost his blog briefly when Down East magazine shut down most of its online-only operations. It's true that the idea of the portal — an all-news online clearinghouse — has been around for nearly two decades. The BDN is localizing the concept — most of its electronic postings are not wire copy or international or national news. With energetic rising star Tony Ronzio coming in to lead the operation, the site is quietly, but importantly, becoming the must-read, go-to place online for Mainers statewide.
When the OccupyMaine encampment was ordered dismantled in Lincoln Park, plenty of people — publicly and privately — predicted a quiet end to the energy and collaboration that had swirled among the tents. But as we have written, including on the occasion of the encampment's one-year anniversary, something far more complex — and far more interesting — has resulted. With headquarters shifted largely to the Meg Perry Center, the Occupiers channeled their energy in new directions. Freed from having to spend time and effort protecting their living quarters, they have tried to spread their message of equality and fairness far and wide. They've taken on major national and international problems, like tar-sands mining, fracking, and Walmart's worker-burdening profit model; they've talked economics, about student debt, foreclosure resistance, and asking — in a punnily named "Soup or PAC?" event — whether our political process really should be as steeped in money as it is. And they've not forgotten the individuals. Alan Porter and Dawn Eve York spent weeks helping the recovery from Superstorm Sandy — including bringing donations from Maine all the way to New York City — while the government, the Red Cross, and the charity-industrial complex struggled to meet survivors' needs. Occupiers and those with similar ideals have worked to protect Congress Square from privatization, to win same-sex couples marriage equality, to promote street artists' First Amendment rights to display their wares on public property, and to stop loading educational expenses on students. A broad-spectrum group effort of grass-roots activism was missing in this city before Occupy revived it, and Portland, Maine, and the world are already the better.
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