To the editor:

As a non-profit organization, the Island Institute enjoys many advantages not available to for-profit Maine businesses, including a substantial endowment and the ability to solicit charitable gifts and grants from individuals and foundations to support its many worthwhile programs.

One of those programs is the publication of Working Waterfront, a newspaper produced by the Institute staff with some 40,000 copies mailed monthly, at no cost to the recipient under the Institute’s non-profit mailing indicia.

While Working Waterfront has accepted a modest amount of boat and related advertising for some years, the newspaper until now has not been a serious advertising competitor to the dozens of independently owned community newspapers published along the Maine coast from York to Eastport.

The recently announced decision to solicit real estate advertising places Working Waterfront in direct competition with all those weekly and bi-weekly small newspapers already serving Maine’s coastal and island communities. In Hancock County alone, there are eight weekly newspapers, three published on islands, serving a total population of 50,000. These newspapers, and our counterparts up and down the coast, depend heavily on real estate advertising for survival.

It would be unfortunate indeed were your organization to cause the demise of even one of these economically fragile, but most visible, symbols of community along the coast.

Alan L. Baker, Publisher

The Ellsworth American


(Three comments: The Island Institute’s endowment is very small, meaning it must raise nearly all of its annual operating budget each year. Three Institute staff members work part-time to produce Working Waterfront with contributions from other staffers and freelancers. The decision to accept real estate advertising is an effort to put the paper on a sounder financial footing. – ed.)