Editor’s Notebook: We’re aiming for poetry, not poems

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Probably like many of you, I spent about 6 1/2 or seven hours over Thanksgiving weekend not shopping, but binge-watching “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.”

That’s right. I watched all of the four-episode Netflix revival that picks up a decade after TV land thought it had seen the last of Lorelai, Rory, Luke and the other high-strung characters of fictional Stars Hollow, Connecticut.

Don’t be so surprised. I have a wife and two daughters, both born in the ’80s, for whom the return to that storybook town was like coming back to a well-loved home for the holiday.

And let’s face it, who wouldn’t be even mildly entertained by the witty, rapid-fire dialogue, the incessant references to pop culture, the stream of cameos, the Baz Luhrmann-wannabe musical-fantasy pieces, and characters who exist on a steady diet of coffee, Pop Tarts and Scotch whisky?

For me, though, there was one other notable thread (don’t worry, no spoiler alert necessary): Rory’s desire to be a journalist, and how she finds her way, sort of – but only after jumping in as editor of the Stars Hollow Gazette when the former editor decides to go fishing (permanently) and the paper is in danger of shutting down. In one of the show’s better and more subliminal pop-culture references, she even keeps a portrait at her desk of David Carr, the late, great media and culture critic of The New York Times.

Rory’s first decision as editor is to stop publishing a front-page poem in the Gazette. But it becomes her first mistake because the one thing the overly caffeinated citizens of Stars Hollow always read in the Gazette – the thing they expect – is the front-page poem. Eventually, Rory comes to her senses – at least regarding the poem, which is back on Page 1 by the time “Fall,” the final of the four episodes, rolls around.

“Yes,” she tells a satisfied caller, “I’d say we very clearly don’t have our heads up our backsides anymore.”

It made me think about the potential for backside exploration at The Forecaster, where, a year after our parent company acquired Current Publishing, we’ve now merged the two organizations into one family of weeklies reaching 75 percent of the households in Cumberland County. Including our coverage of Bath and Topsham in Sagadahoc County, print circulation is about 80,000 a week.

While our advertising, production and distribution departments were combined in the first few months after Sun Media Group acquired Current Publishing, the news departments of our eight weeklies operated side by side, with some duplicate staffing and coverage – until now.

As we reported last week, two Current Publishing papers – the American Journal and the Lakes Region Weekly – are now the fifth and sixth members of The Forecaster family. Two others – the Tri-Town Weekly and The Current – have been folded into the Northern and Southern editions, respectively, of The Forecaster.

Our job now is to make former readers of the Tri-Town Weekly and Current feel at home with The Forecaster, and to continue to improve the quality of The Forecaster’s four editions, the American Journal and the Lakes Region Weekly.

We’ll be moving some features from the Tri-Town Weekly and Current into The Forecaster, and we’ll be sharing some Forecaster content – like this occasional column, and stories of county-wide interest – with the American Journal and Lakes Region Weekly. There will undoubtedly be other changes, too, as we work our way through the process of turning two parallel organizations into one whose mission is to inform, challenge and reflect the communities we serve while delivering an unmatched local news product.

We will not publish front-page poems. But we will continue to strive for poetry in everything else we do. Whether at some point we have to remove our heads from our backsides remains to be seen; don’t hesitate to let me know how we’re doing, what we do well, and what we can do better.

Mo Mehlsak is executive editor of The Forecaster, American Journal and Lakes Region Weekly. He can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 107 or mmehlsak@theforecaster.net. You can also follow Mo on Twitter: @mmehlsak.

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Editor of The Forecaster; prior reporting/editing gigs at Automotive Age magazine, Daily News of Los Angeles, Biddeford Journal Tribune; Syracuse U. Orange-bleeder; lifelong NY Yankees fan, longtime resident of Red Sox Nation.