The editors questioned the reliability of information provided by the Department of Human Services and the ethics of printing it without editorial scrutiny.
"We could not be sure that the list was accurate and did not want to make a mistake by indicting someone who is not at fault," said Warren Watson, executive editor of the Kennebec Journal of Augusta and Central Maine Morning Sentinel of Waterville.
Portland Newspapers managing editor Jeannine Guttman said the 2-inch-thick listing might yield future stories, but standard journalistic rules would apply. "For fairness, all of those people would have to be contacted," said Guttman, whose company publishes the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram.
The Bangor Daily News ruled out running the list for similar reasons, according to assignment editor Julie Murchison. "The publisher says that he would consider running an ad from the state," she said.
Human Services Commissioner Kevin Concannon released the list last month. He said the people who were named collectively owed more than $30 million in court-ordered child support. The average debt is $12,592, and one man owes nearly $250,000.
State Attorney General Andrew Ketterer said that because the state had thoroughly reviewed the list, he believed newspapers would be immune from "any criminal or civil liability" associated with publishing it.
Concannon said the state had no plans to buy ad space.
Editors at Maine's two afternoon papers, the Journal Tribune of Biddeford and the Brunswick Times Record, kept open the possibility of running the names within their readership areas.
By: Editorial Staff MAINE NEWSPAPER EDITORS have balked at the state's appeal to publish the names of nearly 2,400 people said to be at least two months behind in paying child support.