Lion’s Share

When it comes to direction, Audrey Seitz has plenty to spare. It’s even in her job title. A graduate student at UW-Milwaukee’s new School of Public Health, she also works part time at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin as a “community health navigator,” directing the uninsured to health and social services. Her own path has been varied but sure, winding through a semester in Malta as a refugee aid worker and veering slightly when she was diagnosed with CVID, or common variable immune deficiency, a genetic immune disorder. But she’s receiving monthly injections of antibodies and hopes to graduate next year,…

Repackaging Charlie

Charlie Sykes Earlier this year the question of how far journalists should go in disclosing their own points of view – especially political ones – became the subject of fierce debate in our craft, in our state, and indeed in this column. Journalists who signed petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker were outed. Journalism pundits weighed in both for and against giving reporters freer rein to candidly acknowledge their political outlooks. And a UW-Madison student who had signed a recall petition even lost a summer internship at the Journal Sentinel. Two big developments in recent weeks tie right back to…

Tears of a Clown

These aren’t the funniest of times for cartoonists. The same forces that have collapsed newspaper staffs and put some newspapers out of business entirely are taking their toll on the people who create the material that many readers turn to first every morning. And just like their more sober colleagues who report and present the news, the people who help populate the funny pages are scrambling to figure out how to survive the changes. And they, too, are finding in the Internet both a bane and a blessing. Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis knows both sides of that coin.…

One Night Only

Stephen Pastis, recovering lawyer turned writer and cartoonist of the newspaper comic Pearls Before Swine, appears tonight at Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave., at 7 p.m. for a “performance” and book signing. Pastis was at the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning this weekend, where we talked and I caught a panel of cartoonists discussing the future of their craft. Look for a report this week in Pressroom Buzz.

Picture Book

Writer Michael Goodwin wanted a basic primer on economics – something that would explain the discipline in ordinary language. “I was a history nut, and I got frustrated because a lot of the history I read kept coming back to economic patterns, and I didn’t understand them,” says Goodwin. “I was looking for a book that gave an easy-to-read overview, and I couldn’t find it. Eventually I did enough research to where I realized I could write it myself.” Dan Burr, self portrait What Goodwin, based in New York City, produced isn’t a standard textbook or even a variation on…

New Assignment

As reported on Jim Rowen’s blog and by Rich Kirchen in the Business Journal, Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane leaves the column-writing gig but stays at the newspaper in the latest downsizing. Kane has had one or another kind of column at the paper going all the way back to the mid-1980s (his current one started 18 years ago). I asked Kane what the transition would be like for someone who has strong, and widely disseminated, opinions returning to the role of straight reporting. Would sources challenge him or his objectivity based on opinions he might have expressed on issues,…

By Whom?

Freelance writer Robert Bundy wasn’t expecting to get much money when he sold a pair of stories to M Magazine earlier this year – $110 for each, plus $80 a pop for some photos he took to accompany one of the pieces. But he at least hoped the magazine would get his name right on them. Instead, one story went under the byline of an editor at the magazine, with Bundy getting second billing. The other was attributed to a completely different author and photographer, both of whom had nothing to do with the piece. Now Bundy’s suing M Magazine, its owner Conley…

Parting is Such …

Pressroom Buzz has learned that still another buyout is being sought at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – the second one this year. A letter went out this week offering two weeks for every year of service and six months of paid health insurance, which is more than the minimum provided for in the recently signed contract between the newspaper and its newsroom union. Insiders say that this buyout is offered across all departments at the newspaper, not just in the newsroom. Additionally, insiders speculate that it doesn’t appear to be targeting a large number of people – but it’s anyone’s guess how…

Poll Stars

During this spring’s recall face-off, Marquette University Law School’s polls, punditry and primetime disputation were everywhere voters looked. Dean Joseph Kearney, a Harvard Law School grad and former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is the man behind the school’s brave new elections-tracking operation. In late 2011, he unveiled a plan for an ambitious polling project to be run by UW-Madison’s Charles Franklin, a political science professor on loan to Marquette for 2012. “This will be an academic enterprise that establishes the Law School as a serious player in campaign analysis,” said the plan, which called for somberly…

Clearing the Way?

Monday morning Journal Communications Inc. announced that it has bought back shares from the Grant family – the last vestige of the company’s ties to the private owners who managed to keep the once-flagship Milwaukee Journal independent at a time when chains were gobbling up American newspapers like the newsroom pizza on election night. “This is a big deal,” a local investment manager tells me privately. This week’s buyback, costing the company $31.8 million in cash and debt, gives it a degree of flexibility for any number of moves – including the sale of all or part of the business.…