Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bangor Editors Recuse Themselves

This issue has been debated in the blogs, where doubts about their objectivity have been raised. This seems like a good move on the part of the Bangor Daily News editors.

2 BDN editors to skip Senate race coverage

By Michael J. Dowd
NEWS Managing Editor

BANGOR, Maine - Two editors at the Bangor Daily News with close ties to candidates vying for a U.S. Senate seat in the 2008 election have recused themselves from dealing with any aspect of the paper’s coverage of the campaign for the duration of the race.

Executive editor Mark Woodward and assignment editor Tim Allen took the action this week after conferring with fellow editors about apparent conflicts of interest the two have with incumbent Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat serving Maine’s 1st District. The paper published a column detailing the ties to the candidates on Sept. 1. Internet bloggers and others had raised the issue previously.

Woodward, 60, worked for 10 months as communications director for Collins before being named executive editor at the BDN in 1997. His wife, Bridget Woodward, has worked for Collins as a staffer in the senator’s Bangor office for more than 10 years. She recently announced her retirement effective Sept. 30.

Allen, 55, oversees the paper’s political, business, health, education and environmental coverage. He is a first cousin to the congressman and Senate candidate.

Bangor Daily News Publisher Richard J. Warren said he has complete faith in the integrity of Woodward and Allen and praised them for ensuring their relationships to the candidates would not become part of the story of the campaign.

Woodward began his career at the BDN as a reporter in 1971 and, in 1982, took over as editor of the editorial pages. He left that position in March 1997 to work for Collins, who was elected to her first term in 1996. He returned to the paper to take the executive editor’s position in late 1997. He said Bridget Woodward’s decision to retire was unrelated to his ties to the senator and recusal.

Allen has worked at the BDN since 1998, serving as assistant copy desk chief until being named to his current position earlier this year. Before working for the BDN, Allen held a variety of reporting and editing positions at Maine newspapers, including the former Evening Express in Portland, the Lewiston newspapers in the 1980s and the Waterville Morning Sentinel in the 1990s. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Maine Press Association.

Five BDN editors with no ties to the candidates will coordinate coverage, editing and placement of stories and photographs related to the campaign.

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