Illustration by Leslie Herman

Mind The Gap

Employers say they can’t find enough highly skilled workers. But other factions say that’s just a convenient cop out to cover other job-related shortcomings. Can both sides be right?

Double Jeopardy

When the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found hundreds of examples of misreported crimes in the Milwaukee Police Department’s data reports to the FBI, the newspaper went all out on the story.   But it took a nonprofit, shoestring neighborhood news service to figure out that the department has until recently been overstating crime reports in some of the information it releases.   Andrea Waxman was among the writers for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service about Milwaukee’s Borchert Field neighborhood. Researching one of those stories, Waxman was looking up crime statistics on a two-block segment of North 9th Street, using Excel spreadsheets…

Deciding What’s News

Anyone who’s ever sent out a press release has probably wondered – why didn’t the local paper pick up my story? Or, if it did make the news, why was it treated the way it was? I got a question like that a few weeks ago. The conversation was private, but I will say that the news release in question was along the lines of the proverbial non-news story, the one about all the planes that land safely, as opposed to the plane that crashes and makes headlines. This source’s story might have at least somewhat interested some readers, but it…

Steady Gaze

Wisconsin State Capitol To follow the state budget debate this spring, you might have turned to your local newspaper, switched on public radio, or hunted up AP wire stories online. But for the full story – the really  full story – you’d have to pick none of the above. Instead, you’d go to Wisconsin Eye, a non-partisan, nonprofit, and privately funded service aired on cable TV and accessible on the Internet that boasts gavel-to-gavel coverage of state government in all its sausage-making detail.   Since its inception 14 years ago, Wisconsin Eye has been likened to a state version of…

Right Jab

For years some outside observers have claimed that Journal Sentinel editors let right wing talk radio set their news agenda. JS editors have always rejected the claim, and I’ve never been convinced of it either.   Now, a tussle between JS Managing Editor George Stanley and the Right Wisconsin website operated by corporate sibling WTMJ-AM 620 has thrown some more cold water on the theory.   The exchange was rooted in the breathless “exclusive” last week in which RW – launched this year by the Journal Broadcast Group to further promote its tent pole host Charlie Sykes – reported that…

Fahrenheit 414

Regular readers know that I’ve long taken a jaundiced view of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel PolitiFact feature. I think the motive behind the project is laudable. But I’ve been wary of the execution from the start, and I’ve grown weary of it since. That’s unfortunate, because I think the contributing reporters and editors, particularly Pulitzer-prize winner David Umhoefer, are strong and talented journalists. Yet institutional constraints wind up making the overall enterprise more frustrating than enlightening at times. A textbook example of the feature’s flaw is this week’s piece by Umhoefer that takes Gov. Scott Walker down a peg for…

Rough Patch

In its first year, Patch was probably most notable as that rare quantity, a journalism outlet hiring a large number of new employees.   For more than a year now, claims of the imminent demise of the hyperlocal news site run by aol.com have been persistently floated and just as persistently denied by Patch executives and managers. And even after a national restructuring (first reported at All Things D) that shed about 40 jobs nationally last month, the company’s stance is never say die.   Although, when it comes to hard information about the downsizing, it’s more like never say…

The New Old Guard

Mirroring the industry its students hope to join, Marquette University has carried out a major overhaul in its journalism curriculum. Core journalism courses at MU’s Diederich College of Communication now expose entry-level students to the newest tools and techniques of professional newsrooms. “If you’re not thinking digital first, then you’re not equipped to be a success as a journalist in the future,” says the college’s dean, Lori Bergen. But some students say the trendy subjects like video and social media are crowding out basic skills needed by all journalists. And they’re pushing back. “I certainly understand what they’re trying to…

Free Speech

    Randy Hollenbeck When Randy Hollenbeck launched his ultimately successful campaign for Cudahy alderman, he was already a known commodity to readers of the CudahyNOW.com website. Hollenbeck blogs at the local news portal, one of some two dozen suburban Milwaukee NOW sites operated by the Community Newspapers unit of Journal Communications. He labels himself “an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type ‘C’ Personality,” – and he wasn’t shy about using his blog to promote his aldermanic campaign, either. And he did it with the full knowledge of, and no objection from, NOW’s boss. “Our policy on all bloggers is…

Battle for the Hills

Photo by Azael Meza The way Mike Wiggins Jr. remembers it, the man who strode into his office without an appointment that day in fall 2010 didn’t wear a suit. There was a guy with him – maybe two. Wiggins isn’t sure anymore. But the first guy – “He seemed personable enough,” Wiggins says – did all the talking. His name was Matt Fifield, an officer with the Cline Group, a coal-mining company based in Florida. On this day, he was a long way from home, at the tribal headquarters of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians,…