The local daily
In mid-June, Richard Connor did what he had been threatening to do for roughly a year: He bought the Portland Press Herald, at a single stroke promising to reduce the number of his employees by nearly one-quarter and slashing the pay of those who would remain by 10 percent. He has since sold the company's downtown real-estate — making no money on the deal but solidifying his equity in the company — and begun revamping the paper, expanding and improving its news coverage, though still losing ground in advertising and circulation. Perhaps the biggest outside endorsement of his plans was the recent move of bright, sharp editorial writer Tony Ronzio from the Lewiston Sun Journal to Connor's central Maine papers. The next unknown is the effect of moving the paper's offices — possibly out of Portland.
After many delays, the sale of Verizon's landline business to FairPoint closed early in the year, and the delays continued. Even now, the tales are common of unresponsive phone support, extended waits for installations, and just generally not getting what customers paid for. Little wonder the company couldn't keep customers, nor please the ones they had, and filed for bankruptcy protection in late October. Not only did state regulators react by ordering the company to reduce its rates to compensate for poor service, but allegations arose in bankruptcy-court filings that company executives were enriching themselves at the expense of customers and investors alike. What more could go wrong? We feel confident FairPoint will answer that question in 2010.
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