BAR HARBOR — Former Mount Desert Islander editor Earl Brechlin will be inducted into the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame this October at a ceremony in the town where he built his journalism career.
Brechlin, along with Chris and Paula Roberts of The Lincoln County News, have been selected by the MPA’s Hall of Fame Committee. The three will be inducted during a luncheon at this year’s fall conference at Bar Harbor’s Atlantic Oceanside Hotel and Event Center Oct. 22.
Brechlin had a distinguished career in Maine journalism that began in 1977 at the Bar Harbor Times. He got his start in the job shop hand-setting lead type. From there he went to the production darkroom, taking photos and writing a photo column. He joined the newsroom staff as a reporter in 1981 and was promoted to editor in 1983. Under his leadership, the Times consistently earned general excellence press awards in Maine and New England.
In 2001, Brechlin, along with The Ellsworth American publisher Alan Baker, founded a new, locally owned weekly newspaper on Mount Desert. With no reporters, no staff, no name and no design, the two got to work and the first edition of the Mount Desert Islander rolled off the presses six weeks later on Nov. 15, 2001.
Under Brechlin’s leadership, the Islander earned first place among Maine small weeklies 12 out of its first 13 years, best in New England for several years and was honored by a first-place award from the National Newspaper Association.
Brechlin has been a member of the Maine Press Association in some form since 1981. He served as the association’s president four times along with 17 years on the board. In 1997 he was named Maine Journalist of the Year for a series of articles on financial improprieties at a local bank.
Brechlin retired from journalism in 2017, but only after receiving more than 150 individual awards for writing, photography, layout, news, featured videos and Freedom of Information.
Brechlin is a registered Maine Guide and the author of more than a dozen books on the outdoors and history of Maine and New England.
The Roberts of The Lincoln County News also will be recognized at the ceremony.
Christopher A. Roberts began life with ink in his veins, being born into the family business of running The Lincoln County News. As many children involved with family-run businesses, he was always at the shop, helping with operations as early as he was able.
While he always worked in some capacity at the paper, he started his career after graduating from the University of Maine, at the end of 1977. Over the 44-plus years, he would go on to lead the paper and make a huge impact on the company and the community it serves.
Paula Flagg met Chris while in high school at Lincoln Academy and they became sweethearts. They were engaged in 1977 and married on Nov. 25, 1978. Before Paula began her full-time career at the newspaper, she worked as a physical education teacher and raised two sons. She joined the staff part time in 1981 and became a full-time sports reporter in 1993.
Paula remains the newspaper’s sports reporter and photographer. She logs tens of thousands of miles a year as she crisscrosses the state to cover sports, mostly at the high school level. She routinely covers several games at different schools in the same evening. She has won awards for her photography and writing in the Maine Press Association Better Newspaper Contest, including first place for Sports Photo in three of the last seven years.
Today, Chris is publisher of The Lincoln County News and president of Lincoln County Publishing Co., the newspaper’s parent company. He represents the fourth generation of the Erskine-Roberts family to own and publish The Lincoln County News. His great-grandfather, Samuel H. Erskine, published his first edition of the newspaper Dec. 9, 1920. He took over this role in 1992 from his father, Samuel E. Roberts.
Chris has overseen many changes during his time as publisher. The company upgraded its newspaper press in 2000, 2004 and in 2017 to allow for more color to flow onto its pages and has always ensured that production of the newspaper has been at the cutting edge. He has overseen the newspaper’s advancement into the digital age with a series of websites, the latest of which launched in 2016 and won first place in the 2018 Maine Press Association contest. He has also invested in new publications, like Lincoln County Magazine – another award-winning product now in its 18th year.
In addition to this year’s slate of inductees, last year’s inductees, Dorothy “Dot” Roderick, Dieter Bradbury and Judy Meyer, who were unable to be recognized in person after that portion of the conference was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, will also be honored.
The MPA Hall of Fame, established in 1998, honors newspaper people with Maine connections who have made outstanding contributions to the profession. A listing of all MPA Hall of Fame members can be found online at http://mainepressassociation.org/hall-of-fame.
Tickets to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which takes place during the luncheon, are available by contacting MPA Executive Director Diane Norton at [email protected] or (207) 691-0131.