Erik Gunn | Page 4



No More Business as Usual

The new look that the renamed Milwaukee Business Journal sported when it landed on newsstands and in some 12,000 mailboxes last Friday is part of a nationwide makeover for the paper and its 39 sibling publications, all owned by American City Business Journals. “This is really a national effort to rebrand all of our papers,” says MBJ editor Mark Kass. The San Jose edition of the paper was first to get the design changes; Milwaukee was no. 24. By the end of March the revisions will be complete at all 40 papers in the chain, which is a unit of…

On a Mission

The latest installment of Meg Kissinger’s ongoing investigative reports for the Journal Sentinel on mental health care in Milwaukee County appeared last week, and once again, it bore her unmistakable stamp. It was passionate, yet controlled. The voice was strong and compelling. The point of view was clearly defined. And the reporting was informed by the distinctive personal connection Kissinger has brought to the subject. Mental illness has affected three of her siblings, two of whom died by suicide. Kissinger’s stories on mental illness date back a quarter century. Her repeated forays into the shortcomings of existing programs – both nationally and in Milwaukee…

In Praise of Beat Reporters

I like and respect Bruce Murphy, and his recent column on the changing fortunes of Milwaukee social justice agencies advanced an interesting thesis, built both on his own reporting and on work appropriately credited to others. Then in the comments I found some people who took him seriously to task. The critics weren’t your typical Internet  ideological cranks. They brought some important factual questions to the surface that, at first glance, could seriously undercut the column’s arguments. So had my old editor been seriously misled? Hey, I’m always looking for a media angle, and the right gotcha is gold for this column,…

On the Passing of this Magazine’s Publisher

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,…

Alt-Empire

Who could have predicted Urban Milwaukee would launch a new media conglomerate? The wonky website had been quietly covering city issues – development, transit, planning and the distinctive rhythms of urban life – for some four years when it got a boost in profile and editorial know-how last year. That’s when Bruce Murphy joined the website as its first-ever editor, not long after his departure from Milwaukee Magazine. (Disclosure: In case you didn’t realize, this is that magazine’s website.) Under his contract, he’ll earn a stake in the business founded by Jeramey Jannene and Dave Reid over time. In return,…

Mugging It

Before The Onion, before Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, even before Saturday Night Live and its “Weekend Update,” there was MAD.   The granddaddy of satirical comic books is still out there, as is Tom Richmond, an artist of Wisconsin extraction who’s drawn for MAD as a freelancer for more than a decade. A while back someone who saw a copy of MAD described it as “The Daily Show on paper,” the cartoonist recalls. “Not really,” he replied. “The Daily Show is MAD on TV.”   At the ripe old age of 61, MAD still manages to maintain a niche in…

The Whole World is Surfing

To hear Todd Gitlin tell it, the pride that the mainstream press takes in its watchdog role is more than a little misplaced – but that doesn’t mean the ideal is any less important.   And with media fragmentation in the age of the Internet, people more than ever need institutions of some kind that will “connect the dots” of day-to-day events and create a coherent, truthful picture of the world, says Gitlin, the 1960s New Left leader turned media scholar.   Whether they’ll get that is another story. Visiting Milwaukee this week, Gitlin offered an assessment that was often…

Data Dude

For the 2012 election cycle, Craig Gilbert was one of Politico’s “50 Politicos to Watch” Craig Gilbert has carved out a distinctive and perhaps even unique niche in political reporting. This past spring, Dartmouth College political science professor and Columbia Journalism Review contributor Brendan Nyhan wrote that the Journal Sentinel’s Washington bureau chief  has “probably done more than anyone else to integrate political science into daily news coverage.” Nyhan added that Gilbert’s consultation with academics “frequently allows him to bring in data or findings that are neglected in mainstream political coverage.”   Gilbert’s work is a long way removed the…

Short Run

Why did WMSE-FM drop Mary Louise Schumacher’s new arts show after just one episode? Schumacher, the Journal Sentinel’s art critic, says she’s never gotten an official explanation, and there’s no indication she flubbed her premiere. After the debut episode aired on Friday, August 23, the station’s promotions director, Ryan Schleicher, sent her a congratulatory email. Less than 24 hours later, however, the gig was gone. As Schumacher reported on her blog, station manager Tom Crawford later sent her an email asking her to call right away – and when she did, Crawford told her that the show was history. “He…

Penny For Your Thoughts

Now just a little more than 6 months old, Right Wisconsin is an anomaly in the political blogosphere – and perhaps the ultimate test for conservative free-market principles. Unlike The Daily Caller and similar national sites, the local right-wing website run by the Journal Communications broadcast division is mostly behind a pay wall on which the writing is clear: If you want to read the screeds, you gotta pay up. After 20 years of positioning its radio station, WTMJ-AM 620, as a homing beacon for Wisconsin’s conservatives, Journal Broadcast is using RW to expand the brand of top talker Charlie…