Silenced But Not Shutting Up

The loss of the Milwaukee Labor Press is bigger than just the closing of a newspaper. It’s a sign of the continued fragmenting of our society and our culture in which the countless numbers of people who work for a living and who once helped make up a growing and thriving middle class are all but ignored by the machinery of the mass media.   The publisher, the Milwaukee County Labor Council, pulled the plug and, with the publication of last week’s issue, announced it would be the monthly paper’s final edition.      Sheila Cochran “It was one of…

News from the Other Half

It’s a common complaint among residents of less affluent and impoverished neighborhoods in cities: In the mainstream media, their communities get depicted in one broad and distorted stroke – as dangerous and victimized, instead of as complex networks of the people who live there and strive for improvement.   Milwaukee is no different – except that a couple of years ago, some neighborhood organizations decided to take the matter into their own hands and contribute directly to changing the journalism about their communities.   The result was the Neighborhood News Service, a non-profit outlet that posts stories on the web…

Book ‘em

Sarah Carr spent five years covering education for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before an itch for change took her to New Orleans, where she covered the same beat for the Times Picayune. It was a unique opportunity. One result of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on the fabric of the city was a controversial decision that converted the entire New Orleans school system into a massive experiment with charter schools and school choice. Carr’s time in Milwaukee, a city on the leading edge of the movement for private school vouchers and expanding charter schools, turned out to be especially apt.…

Filling the Gaps

The humming nerve center of Riverwest Radio  The decision of station owners at WMCS-AM 1290 to unceremoniously pull the plug last week on news and talk programming for Milwaukee’s black community leaves a huge hole in the local media landscape.   But inside a video store on Center Street is the promise of something that could point the way to filling that gap, or others like it.   The Riverwest Film and Video Store at 824 E. Center St. is home to Riverwest Radio. You won’t find it on your dial right now – it’s an Internet-only broadcaster – but…

Tosa on Top

Illustration by Justin Renteria Local media swooned in November over the news that tony retailer Nordstrom was coming to Wauwatosa’s Mayfair Mall in three years’ time. The announcement, yet another sign of the western suburb’s economic good fortunes, even topped Page 1 of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Is it all roses for Wauwatosa these days? Surrounded by a metro area still wracked by high unemployment, the city of about 47,000 is booming. It avoided the massive downturn experienced elsewhere after the 2008 crash, and its 5 to 6 percent jobless rate is nearly half of Milwaukee’s. Per capita income, according…

Going Through the Motions

Back in January the Democratic Party of Wisconsin held a telephone news conference to outline its strategy for winning the state when Gov. Scott Walker runs for reelection next year.   The event got a smattering of coverage: a blog post at JSOnline and stories on Fox 6 and in the Eau Claire Leader Telegram.   I suspect a generation ago the whole story would have been quite different – in the way it was reported and in the way it was presented.   I doubt either the Democratic Party or the Republicans in the 1960s or even the 1980s…

Do-Over

After being sued last fall for wrongly bylining two articles written by freelancer Rob Bundy, M Magazine has quietly reprinted both pieces in its February issue, adding Bundy’s credit and an acknowledgement of the earlier publication error.   Federal court records show the copyright-infringement lawsuit, which Bundy filed in September, was settled Dec. 27, and the suit was dismissed. Terms were kept confidential, but the timeline suggests that the republication of the articles and the accompanying disclaimer were part of the deal.   While Bundy is barred from commenting on the outcome, it’s safe to say that the result is…

The One-Sided Scoop

Conservative blogger Christian Schneider helped the Journal Sentinel to a genuine scoop the other day. On Tuesday, 24 hours or so before the official announcement, Schneider told the world about Gov. Scott Walker’s decision not to fully expand BadgerCare – which would have brought the state some $4.38 billion in federal money – but instead to seek what Schneider characterized as “middle ground” in reducing the number of uninsured in the state. He wrote about it in his blog that’s included in the JS “Purple Wisconsin” aggregation of political blogs. Schneider’s scoop was so exclusive that, in a front-page story…

On the Sly

    “Sly” Sylvester John “Sly” Sylvester is that rarity in Wisconsin talk radio – a mostly left-leaning on-air personality in a field dominated, as it is nationally, by conservatives.   Next week, he becomes something just as rare – a talker on a station that is willing to mix it up ideologically.   Popular among Madison liberals, Sylvester has been doing opinionated talk in the state capital for a quarter century. But his profile escalated sharply starting in 2011 as he swung solidly behind the opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial Act 10 stripping public employees of most union…

An Open Book

Barbara Miner has worked both sides of the journalistic fence. She’s been a traditional news reporter – for the Milwaukee Journal – and a freelancer for other publications, from the New York Times to (ahem) Milwaukee Magazine. And she’s worked in the advocacy press, as a managing editor and later as a freelance contributor for the Milwaukee-based Rethinking Schools and many other outlets. She’s also one of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “Purple Wisconsin” bloggers. She’s brought strands of both forms of journalism to her book Lessons from the Heartland (The New Press, 305 pp.), which takes a bow (along with…