Alan Baker in the press room in Ellsworth. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Islander publisher to enter Hall of Fame

BAR HARBOR — The longtime owner and publisher of two of Maine’s top weekly newspapers will be one of two inductees into the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame here in October.

Mount Desert Islander and The Ellsworth American Publisher Alan Baker, along with retired Bangor Daily News Editor Mark Woodward, were selected this month by the MPA’s Hall of Fame committee. They will be inducted Oct. 21 during the association’s annual fall conference at The Atlantic Oceanside in Bar Harbor.

Baker came to The Ellsworth American as general manager in 1986 after a long career in publishing and related fields. He was named publisher in 1989 and purchased the paper from James Russell Wiggins in 1991.

A native of Orrington, he graduated from Bowdoin College and worked for seven years with General Electric Co. in advertising and sales. He joined Triangle Publications at the Philadelphia Inquirer and was the assistant to the advertising director from 1960 to 1965, followed by three years as advertising director at the Philadelphia Daily News.

In 1968, he joined Macmillan Inc. in New York and moved quickly through the ranks. He served one year as marketing director for “This Week” magazine, was president of Katherine Gibbs Schools from 1969 to 1972, president of the Berlitz Schools of Languages in 1972 and 1973 and was made a group vice president and assigned to London in 1973 to manage Macmillan’s international operations. He was recalled to New York in 1976 and elected vice-chairman of Macmillan’s board, managing 19 companies with 12,000 employees.

He resigned from Macmillan in 1979 to return to Maine, where he owned and operated National Media Services out of Orrington.

He was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 1984, following in the footsteps of his mother, Ethel.

Under Baker’s guidance, the number of employees doubled, advertising revenues quadrupled, and the newspaper broadened its publishing ventures to include a host of special sections and supplements on a variety of themes. Those included “Out and About,” a visitors’ guide published five times over the summer and fall with a total distribution of more than 50,000 copies of each issue to area motels, hotels, restaurants, chambers of commerce and other retail outlets.

The paper also established an employee retirement and profit sharing program.

Then, in the fall of 2001, Baker launched the Mount Desert Islander.

Both weeklies have been frequent winners of general excellence awards from the Maine, New England and National press associations.

Baker has been a board member of the New England Press Association and the National Newspaper Association, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and the Maine Seacoast Mission, and recently received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Husson College in Bangor, where he delivered a commencement address.

Woodward’s career with the Bangor Daily News spanned 38 years, including 12 in which he was executive editor. As he led the news staff, he emphasized local news and oversaw the early years of the paper’s digital platforms and coverage. He launched content-sharing agreements with newspapers in Canada and Maine.

He retired on Jan. 1, 2010.

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