Portland wants its teachers to learn more about race

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight is the First Friday Art Walk. Here’s what’s going on.  

What we’re talking about

Portland wants its teachers to learn more about race — Robbie Feinberg of Maine Public reports on one way that Portland teachers are trying to improve relations with students of color in a rapidly diversifying public school system. He reports:

Late on a Thursday night, after classes across the district have wrapped up, about 30 Portland Public School teachers gather in the art room of the Reiche Community School. Surrounded by paintings and marionettes, Portland teachers Fiona Hopper and Julia Hazel lead a class about race, bias and equity.

Here, Hazel tells her colleagues that in this changing school district, educators need to start thinking outside themselves.

Portland Black Lives Matter protesters strike deal to have charges dropped — Jake Bleiberg writes that the agreement, which still has to be approved by a judge, would mean none of the adult protesters will face charges.

He reports:

As part of the settlement with the Cumberland County district attorney, the 17 adults charged with misdemeanors after the July 2016 protest will sit down to talk over their differences with city police as part of a so-called restorative justice program, which encourages mutual understanding between offenders and those affected by a crime.

If the deal becomes official at a Jan. 26 court hearing, the agreement will mark the first time that restorative justice has been used in a Maine civil disobedience case, said Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ackerman.

How the BDN decides when the governor’s statements are newsworthy — This is a really good explanation from Christopher Cousins on the predicament of covering a Trump-like politician. The context is LePage’s vague mention of future job losses, which I touched on in yesterday’s newsletter.

Our job as journalists is to provide context and fact-check statements by public officials. When the administration won’t respond and we’re left with an unchallenged statement made in a vacuum, we’re faced with the choice between letting it fly on the premise that what the governor says is important or letting it pass because we don’t have the whole story. It’s a messy business and we don’t always get it right.

As you’ve seen, the BDN and the Daily Brief have published hundreds of stories based solely on something the governor said. In some cases, that’s made us complicit in spreading inaccurate or incomplete information.

If we rush to simply throw a headline on something a politician says, without providing important context or asking them to provide substantiating information then we function as de facto propaganda machines.

That’s what we’re guarding against.

’Maine looks north’ — Here’s an in-depth look at Maine’s potential opportunities for trade in a swiftly warming arctic. With 1.3 million people, the state “is not going to be a huge Arctic player, but within the North Atlantic it’s certainly having a growing role,” one Arctic expert told The Christian Science Monitor. It won’t break any news to those watching the issue closely, but it’s a good primer.

Meet the Portlander heading up the Maine delegation to the Women’s March on Washington — Kathleen Pierce reports:

Wanting to channel her “sense of fear and trepidation” about the nation’s future in a positive way, Portland writer Genevieve Morgan tapped herself to organize Mainers’ participation and transportation to the Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for the day after President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

“The age of the cynic is over. The age of action has begun,” Morgan said Wednesday night as 50 women joined her in a former school classroom to plan their protest, and how to get there. Some 3,000 Mainers, most of them female, will stream to the nation’s capital by bus, carpool and in some cases plane.

Portland chef tapped to cook at James Beard House — Hats off to Matt Ginn, executive chef at Evo Kitchen + Bar in the Old Port. The former lobster chef of the year has been tapped to cook at the James Beard House in New York City March 6. Ginn joins the ranks of Portland chefs David Turin and Shannon Bard, who have taken over the stoves at this culinary castle. A few days before, on March 2, Ginn lays down a preview of his not-yet-revealed Beard menu at an exclusive, reservations only dinner. — Kathleen Pierce

Number of the day: 100

That’s the maximum amount of days it would take zombies to all but wipe out mankind, according to an actual peer-reviewed — though tongue-in-cheek — student study that apparently is not made-up.

Tweet of the day

From David Itzkoff:

Screenshot 2017-01-06 14.02.34

The Big Idea

‘Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You?’ — End the workweek with a healthy dose of existential terror:

Nuclear bombs are an area of expertise Perry had assumed would be largely obsolete by now, seven decades after Hiroshima, a quarter-century after the fall of the Soviet Union, and in the flickering light of his own life. Instead, nukes are suddenly—insanely, by Perry’s estimate—once again a contemporary nightmare, and an emphatically ascendant one. At the dawn of 2017, there is a Russian president making bellicose boasts about his modernized arsenal. There is an American president-elect who breezily free-associates on Twitter about starting a new nuclear arms race. Decades of cooperation between the two nations on arms control is nearly at a standstill. And, unlike the original Cold War, this time there is a world of busy fanatics excited by the prospect of a planet with more bombs—people who have already demonstrated the desire to slaughter many thousands of people in an instant, and are zealously pursuing ever more deadly means to do so.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.