How teachers around Portland are fighting fake news

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: A Maine lawmaker wants you to slow down; Portland students get a lesson on fake news; the city’s schools will need more than $300 million in upkeep; and Dan is going fishing for Christmas.

What we’re talking about

Keeping fake news out of Maine schools — At Portland’s Lyman Moore Middle School, social studies teacher Carrie Foster is making sure that her sixth-graders can tell the difference between real news (that’s us) and fake news (that’s these guys), Maine Public’s Robbie Feinberg reports. One of her lessons to the middle school students is something we’d all do well to keep in mind: Don’t just read the headline, but the whole article.

Portland mourns 32 homeless people who died in city in 2016That’s fewer than last year, when a record 44 people died, Troy Bennett reports. A study released this year by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council found that the average life expectancy for people who are homeless to be 12 years shorter than the general U.S. population.

Upkeep at Portland schools priced at $321 million for 20 years — Over the next two decades Portland should expect to spend $321 million to keep its school buildings in good working order, according to a draft report posted on the city’s website. The report comes as city leaders are debating a separate proposal to borrow tens of millions of dollars on the bond market to renovate four of Portland’s aging elementary schools. “There’s a lot of deferred maintenance,” School Board Chairwoman Anna Trevorrow told the Press Herald.  

Not so fast — A Maine lawmaker wants to drop the speed limit on Interstate 295 to 60 miles per hour on the stretch of highway between Portland and Brunswick, Maine Public’s Steve Mistler reports. That part of the highway has reportedly seen a 20 percent increase in crashes since the speed limit was raised to 70 mph two years back. It now has nearly one accident a day and South Portland Sen. Rebecca Millett, a Democrat, thinks dropping the speed limit will help.

“Often times I look over and they are bumper to bumper, backed up because somebody’s gone off the road, or there’s been a little bit of a fender bender, if we’re lucky,” Millett told Maine Public.

The ice fishing season is underway — The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says that this early cold weather is good news for ice fishermen. “There are a lot of people out already, and there is more than a couple of inches of ice on the smaller ponds. A lot of the bigger lakes are still open in the middle, but the shoreline and coves have frozen over,” IFW Fisheries biologist Jim Pellerin said in a news release. You can find trout this time of year at: The Otter Ponds in Standish, Littlefield Pond in Sanford, Barker Pond in Lyman, Knights Pond in Berwick, Hall Pond in Paris, Moose Pond in Acton, and Worthley Pond in Peru, the department says. Lower Hinckley Pond in South Portland is a good place to take kids, it says.

Meanwhile, I’m headed up north to spend a few days with family and fish my favorite secret pond. Happy holidays. — Dan MacLeod

Tweet of the day

From Nancy Marshall:

Screenshot 2016-12-22 18.01.35
If you’re also sick of the song, or, maybe think it’s a little creepy, give this consent focused remix a try: “I really can’t stay. Baby, I’m fine with that.”

The Big Idea

Shazaam! — Do you remember a movie called “Shazaam” from the 1990s? It featured actor and comedian Sinbad as genie who is accidentally summoned by two young kids. If you do, we’ve got some bad news for you: The movie doesn’t exist.

But don’t feel bad, according to a report from the New Statesman there are lots of people who remember this movie — despite there being no other evidence it was ever made. Some academics point to it as a case of mass false memory, while true believers claim conspiracy. Either way its weird.  

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at or tweet @jzbleiberg

If someone forwarded you this newsletter, click here to sign up. Or just text PORTLAND to 66866. As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.



Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

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