State of the Cooperative

Editor's note published in the Sept. 2019 edition

Mainer editor-in-chief Chris Busby. photo/Nancy Lawrence

Fellow Mainers and readers from away, it’s my honor this month to report to you that the state of our cooperative is strong. [Pause for applause, look stoically into the middle distance, chin slightly raised.] We announced the formation of the Mainer News Cooperative in May, in the final issue of The Bollard, and our solidarity worker cooperative has now solidified. In addition to myself and editor-at-large Crash Barry, current members include art director Nathan Galvez; columnists Phoebe Kolbert, Samuel James and “Tackle Box” Billy Kelley*; comic artists Katy Finch and Bob Bergeron; music writer Joe Sweeney; food writer Dan Zarin; and “street desk” reporter Robin Rage.

Staff and contributors are eligible to become members of our cooperative after one year (including years they’ve contributed to The Bollard), and we expect to have several more members by this time next summer, as we continue to grow the team. Our newest staff member is advertising guru Sarah Whitmore. Sarah grew up in Portland and now lives in Westbrook with her fiancée. Get in touch at so she can help your local business or organization reach our many tens of thousands of dedicated readers.

Speaking of those readers — that is, speaking of you — I must point out that we’ve been able to grow only because some of you have already stepped up and supported our journalism by becoming monthly or annual subscribers at mainernews.com. This is the second fundamental way that Mainer is different than The Bollard — we’re supported by advertisers and readers, and it’s the readers who’ve really made the difference for us at this crucial early stage. It’s simple: as more of you join us, we’ll publish more stories, exposing more injustice and sharing more of the best local art, writing, music, food and good times with everyone, for free.     

That begins this month, with the launch of our new website at mainernews.com. The third way Mainer differs from its predecessor publication is this website. At thebollard.com, where our archives still live, we generally only posted the content that appeared in print each month. We’ll be updating mainernews.com daily with new stories and features, more timely reporting, enhanced and expanded arts listings, and multimedia features including video, audio and podcasts.  

The one I’m most excited about is Crash’s new true-crime podcast, Devils and Dirtbags. For the past two and a half years, Crash has been tirelessly investigating a criminal gang that’s avoided prosecution for countless sordid crimes and sins. The first season is as shocking and riveting as any true-crime podcast I’ve ever heard. Told over the course of a dozen one-hour episodes, Episodes One, Two and Three will be released on Sept. 23, 25 and 27, respectively, with the remaining episodes available weekly through November. Mainer subscribers won’t have to wait. They’ll receive all 12 episodes, ready for binge-listening, on Sept. 23. This is one of many perks we’re offering our supporters, so join us today!  

Here’s some more great news: Maine’s premiere satirist, Seth Macy of New Maine News, has joined our team! Seth recently discovered an old scrapbook containing the best articles from the past 200 years of New Maine News. Beginning Friday, Sept. 6, we’ll be publishing these historic scraps on mainernews.com, in anticipation of our state’s 200th birthday next March.

We intend to make the most of our new website by delivering the kind of content you can only get online. For example, data journalist Darren Fishell is now a Mainer contributor. Darren’s an expert at uncovering news buried in piles of data and transforming that data into interactive features you can use to dig deeper into the issues. His work also premieres on our site this month.

Mainer has partnered with two Maine poets to launch our literary projects this fall. Dennis Camire, who previously edited a weekly poetry feature for the Lewiston Sun Journal, has joined Mainer to bring the work of Maine’s best bards to you in print and via spoken-word audio. And Mainer has partnered with The Café Review, the prestigious yet street-smart poetry journal we wrote about last April, to share its contributors’ work with you on a quarterly basis — also in print and in your ears. 

We’re super-proud to have former Rockland Free Press reporter and editor Andy O’Brien on the team. You may also know Andy as half of the duo (with his wife, Hanji) behind O’Chang Comics, the subject of a Bollard story back in August of 2014. Andy’s partnered with archivist and author Will Chapman to write a new series about local history, Radical Mainers, that debuts in this issue.

There’s a lot more news to share — including new partnerships and contributors — but space in this issue is limited. Which brings me to my final point. The Bollard was limited in many ways by its sole reliance on print advertising. With the support of readers like you who appreciate what we’re doing, those limits are being transcended, starting now. Given the state of our state and our world these days, the resurgence of Mainer is more than timely. We believe it’s necessary.

*Cory Tracy, who was listed as a member of the MNC in our print edition, is no longer part of the cooperative.