Masthead Maine CEO and publisher Lisa DeSisto, left, and Beckie Conrad of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce participate in the chamber breakfast in Auburn on Thursday. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

AUBURN — Eighteen months after Reade Brower bought the Sun Journal, new CEO and Publisher Lisa DeSisto said she’s been conscious of maintaining the newspaper’s local identity.

She broke down the paper’s reach and readership at the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Brower owns six daily newspapers and 23 weeklies, recently rebranded under the name Masthead Maine.

“We’re pretty much everything except the Bangor Daily News,” DeSisto said. “But in fact, we do print the Bangor Daily News just up the street in Lewiston, so it’s really important that they thrive as well because they’re our biggest commercial print customer. It’s a very, very friendly competition.”

She said that while the Masthead Maine newspapers, which include the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, share stories, the newsrooms operate independently.

“We’re working every day to figure out what that right balance is in content sharing, but making sure the identities of those individual newspapers are serving the community the best they can,” DeSisto said. “Each week we print and distribute more than a half-million newspapers.”

The Sun Journal’s daily print circulation is more than 14,000, a fraction of the 2.4 million page views on SunJournal.com last month, she said.

Among other January 2019 stats:

  • 49 percent of readers found stories via Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
  • 61 percent of readers were within Maine.
  • 24 percent were millennials, age 18 to 34.
  • 61 percent read stories on their phones.

“If your website is not optimized for mobile, you are missing (out),” she said.

Someone raised their hand and jokingly asked how the area might get an ice disk like Westbrook next year. The town was inundated with visitors and coverage after a spinning disk formed in the Presumpscot River last month.

“There’s a lot of crazy news going on right now, but when something like the Westbrook ice disk happens, it’s just so nice to just pause and embrace the natural beauty of it,” she said. “I think you’ve got to bring in some scientists, maybe talk to some folks at Bates. We had a great story about how it benefited the business community. There were martinis and T-shirts and stickers — that was a good win.”

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