Jane Hampden



Field Of Dreams

Illustration by Luciano Lozano/Getty Images I am a college journalism teacher, and I hate hearing these words: “I want to turn my love of sports into a career.” My students are immersed in sports talk, opinion and mega-hype. In this sports wonderland, ESPN reigns, with Fox Sports, SB Nation and so many more networks, blogs and personalities on Twitter feeds and TVs all day and all night. Talented students can find jobs in the sports kingdom, but success stories are rare, even for those who know the difference between real reporting and cheap talk. Nate Lisko graduated from the University…

On the Air

Ben Calhoun sees the world, including his beloved Milwaukee, through the eyes of a top-notch storyteller. He’s a producer for This American Life, one of the most popular podcasts in the country with more than a million listeners downloading each episode. The show draws legions of devoted fans with its signature tell-it-like-it-is ethos. Host and public radio star Ira Glass is also executive producer, leading a team of about a dozen producers. Calhoun earned a spot in 2010 after covering politics for Chicago’s public radio station, WBEZ-FM. Ben Calhoun Calhoun grew up in Washington Heights and attended the Milwaukee High…

Outside Looking In

Southeast Wisconsin’s epic political chasm is the focus of two recent high-profile news stories – one local, one national – and the headlines signal radically different approaches.   The first, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is no-nonsense: “Dividing Lines: Democratic, Republican voters worlds apart in divided Wisconsin.” Then, this clickbait from the New Republic: “The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker: A journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star.” The first headline tops Craig Gilbert’s analysis of Milwaukee’s political polarization. The second lures readers to Alec MacGillis’ cover story, which dives into the history of race…

Outside Looking In

Southeast Wisconsin’s epic political chasm is the focus of two recent high-profile news stories – one local, one national – and the headlines signal radically different approaches. The first, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is no-nonsense: “Dividing Lines: Democratic, Republican voters worlds apart in divided Wisconsin.” Then, this clickbait from the New Republic: “The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker: A journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star.” The first headline tops Craig Gilbert’s analysis of Milwaukee’s political polarization. The second lures readers to Alec MacGillis’ cover story, which dives into the history of race and…

Town Criers

Illustration by Jason Greenberg. When a morning fire roared through Racine’s Mitchell Elementary School in late February, TV news trucks and reporters from Milwaukee raced to the scene. Most of them needed GPS to find the school. But hundreds of local residents followed the story on a news source closer to home: The Racine County Eye, a feisty online startup.  Two seasoned newspaper reporters run the site. Denise Lockwood and Heather Asiyanbi live in the area, and preach a gospel that marries community news and website search-engine optimization. They learned it working for Patch, the ill-fated AOL experiment in hyperlocal…

Hail to the Chief

Illustration by Michael Hirshon The Milwaukee Police Department used to have a tough time countering news reports of botched investigations or police brutality. The chief could hold a press conference, but reporters would ultimately decide which sound bites or quotes to run, and how to frame the story.  These days, the MPD directs its thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook friends to the its flashy website, the Source (milwaukeepolicenews.com). In spite of the macho motorcycle graphic and “Heroes” tab, the site looks a lot like a news page, promising “genuine, unfiltered information.” Dizzying, floating images, 3-D photos and clickable stats…

School’s Out

illustration by Morgan Schweitzer The room was jammed and hot. More than 100 school superintendents packed the Senate chamber at the state Capitol in early March, literally rising in opposition to a Republican-backed bill that would unravel new education standards in Wisconsin. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel education reporter Erin Richards tweeted from the bizarre scene: “Never seen so many WI supts together, outside ed convntn. All support staying course on #CommonCore, oppose #SB619.” The day before, Richards had written an article headlined “Common Core 101,” separating fact from fiction about the national standards, designed to add consistency and rigor. Her readers…

Field Work

Photo by Sara Stathas Is it a shrimp? A lobster?” The voice of a fascinated 5-year-old blends with plinks of stones in water as the girl’s mother lifts a crawfish from the Menomonee River. The family is exploring the new Three Bridges Park in the Menomonee Valley. WUWM environmental reporter Susan Bence is tagging along with an audio recorder and microphone, dodging and crouching to capture the sound. The park’s opening last summer celebrated the valley’s transformation from polluted brownfield to lush public space. But Bence’s story wasn’t about the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She profiled South Side residents whose children are…

Double Byline

Illustration by Leslie Herman Chaotic newsrooms have little in common with the staid halls of academia, where deadlines arrive semester by semester, not minute by minute. But a growing cadre of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters is trading the crazy pace of daily news for a contemplative setting – across the highway at Marquette University. Both the Marquette Law School and the Diederich College of Communication are courting journalists in bids to raise their profiles and make wonky scholarship more relevant. In 2013, the Diederich College announced the $8.3 million O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism. Pro journalists spend nine months…