There are two pieces in today's Sun Journal worth flagging, both by Steve Mistler.
First, Mistler write about the ambiguous positions Sens. Snowe and Collins have staked out on the New START treaty. In the process, he extracts information--weak rationalizations, really--from both senators on an issue they'd clearly prefer not to discuss. In the Maine media, that's an exceedingly rare occurrence.
The second piece is about the decision of both senators to sign an amicus brief arguing that the new health care law is unconstitutional. Here, Mistler draws attention to Snowe's vote for the bill in committee, and tries to get some answers reconciling what seem like contradictory positions.
In both articles, Mistler rejects the template Maine reporters almost always use for these kinds of stories: He doesn't simply chop up and regurgitate press releases or allow himself to be used as a megaphone. Instead, he asks commonsense questions an informed person couldn't help but want answered. And he provides relevant context, even when it doesn't reflect well on one or both of the senators.
It takes nothing away from Mistler's work here to note that this kind of reporting isn't exactly heroic. (Though it is more difficult than stenography.) It's what reporters are supposed to do on a daily basis. And it doesn't--or shouldn't--require a Herculean effort.
What it does require--maybe more than anything else--is seeing Sens. Snowe and Collins as accountable public officials worthy of scrutiny rather than royalty who deserve to be puffed up and celebrated.
That, and respect for readers.