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On the Passing of this Magazine's Publisher
Betty Q. wrote famously that the "first amendment starts here," and it did.

I’ve been lucky as a journalist to work with and for many good editors. I’ve never been particularly ashamed of any of the publishers, but I can say, without hesitation, that there’s just one I’ve been truly proud of. 

The passing this week of Betty Quadracci left many in mourning – her family, the staff of this magazine, the community for which she and her late husband were considerable benefactors, and her friends. I add my name to the list. As a long-time freelance contributor, I appreciated her recognition of my work on several occasions – delivered in low-key style, but with palpable and honest warmth.

Idealistic journalists can be a bit contradictory about publishers. We want them to leave us alone to dig out and publish our stories, yet at the same time, we at least grudgingly admire the ones – too rare – who use the enormous media power they command to stand for something.

“Betty Quad,” as she sometimes informally called herself, was an unabashed representative of that second tradition. More than a decade ago, then-editor John Fennell published, in place of his monthly editor’s column, a speech she’d given on the role of the magazine and the importance of its independence to the integrity of its work and to the fortunes of its advertisers. It was called “The First Amendment Starts Here” – and it captured the spirit that I’ve always felt as a writer fortunate enough to appear in Milwaukee Magazine’s pages.

Betty is missed, deeply, by many. But that spirit remains.


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