Little Mark Island and Monument, 2019. (Pam Berry photo)
In journalism, a “scoop” is the publication of a news item before a competitor.
Most of the time, the Harpswell Anchor doesn’t have to worry about scoops. The Anchor is the only news organization with a regular presence in Harpswell.
But from time to time, an important or unusual piece of news captures the attention of the outside world — and the outside press.
Such was the case with the news about Little Mark Island and Monument, the remote Casco Bay island with the unusual stone tower that looks, at least to me, like the headquarters of a secret society or an early version of Saruman’s tower.
As we all know by now, the U.S. government is giving away the desolate rock and its historic but obsolete pyramid.
On May 26, I learned about the giveaway from a Google Alert. (I have these set up to notify me whenever the internet mentions Harpswell or its various islands and villages.)
The Associated Press first reported that the government was keen to make gifts of a half-dozen lighthouses, including Little Mark, and to sell another four at auction.
(A colleague at the Anchor — a nonprofit and thus eligible to apply for ownership — joked that it could be our new office. But everyone knows that we media types look down from towers of ivory, not granite.)
The AP article mentioned Little Mark only once, in the 11th paragraph. But the Portland Press Herald quickly zoomed in on this Maine connection and reported that the town of Harpswell could become the next owner.
But, of course, the story only starts here.
This week, the Anchor reported that the town had taken its first formal step toward the potential acquisition of the island and wizard’s lair.
And, while the handful of national outlets that reported Little Mark’s availability move on to other curiosities, the Anchor will follow the story through to its conclusion. We’ll tell you if the government picks another recipient. We’ll tell you if it selects Harpswell, in which case the matter will proceed to a vote. We’ll tell you when that vote is and how and where you can vote, then we’ll report the results of that vote. If the voters agree to steward the island and monument, we’ll tell you how the town intends to care for the structure and how much it will cost.
The same is true of any quality local news outlet. National attention comes and goes. The Anchor is here for good.
Editor, Harpswell Anchor