Mainstream Gay

Gay journalism has struggled in this city, but the newest entry comes with insider clout and a mainstream pedigree. Launched late in 2009, the Wisconsin Gazette aims to cover the entire LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) market, from politics to real estate to entertainment. “It’s a vital niche,” says Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Louis Weisberg. “Without a gay paper, our issues aren’t visible.” He dismisses claims that the gay community no longer needs its own journalism: “We’re post ‘Will & Grace,’ but society lags predictably behind. There are young [gay] people in Milwaukee who don’t know they can’t get married.”…

TV Tango

Everything old is new again. The departure of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel TV/radio columnist Tim Cuprisin in an August 2009 buyout left the newspaper with a gaping void in coverage. His column mostly condensed press releases, rewrote the wires or gave quick updates of reality shows – who got voted off the island, who would be sent packing from “American Idol.” Still, it was guaranteed to get at least skimmers attracted by the boldfaced names, eager to follow the movement of broadcast personalities or seeking updates on the TV and radio ratings wars.Cuprisin moved the column and its accompanying blog –…

Favorite Son

Paul Ryan has a media platform that any politician would envy. Nearly every week, the Republican U.S. representative from Janesville gets his own column on the Racine Journal Times Web site, where his analysis may include attacks on congressional Democrats and the Obama administration while promoting his own views. It’s the sort of thing you might find in small-town weeklies or shoppers. Bigger urban papers may offer a politician only an op-ed or two a year – and even then usually balanced by a contrary opinion. But the Journal Times has made no such effort: Neither of Wisconsin’s two Democratic…

Family Feud

Radio sidekicks come and go, generally with little notice by the public. But when WTMJ-AM 620 fired afternoon personality Phil Cianciola in September, the action lit a fire among his fans. Even more surprisingly, the protests spanned the ideological spectrum, from James Rowen’s lefty Political Environmentblog to the rightward Badger Blogger. For 14 years, Cianciola was lieutenant to TMJ’s curmudgeonly afternoon drive host Jonathan Green. Cianciola did the main prep for the show, scouring the news for topics on which Green would offer his idiosyncratic take in the 3-6 p.m. slot. Green is a 40-year veteran of the station, but…

Stage Fright

The late-summer Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cuts will reduce coverage generally, but the biggest blow will hit arts and entertainment groups. A city long celebrated for its arts scene may see far less celebration in print. Of the 71 journalists to take buyouts or be laid off – the paper’s largest cut in the last two years – a quintet of entertainment writers were among the highest-profile departures: music and dance critic Tom Strini, theater critic Damien Jaques, pop and rock music writer Dave Tianen, book editor Geeta Sharma-Jensenand TV/radio columnist Tim Cuprisin. Sharma-Jensen has agreed to freelance for the paper.…

Please Cover Us!

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinelhas begun to seem like the incredible shrinking daily newspaper: In July, it sought buyouts from as many as 50 people, aiming to cut the staff by more than 20 percent. Yet the story is even starker for the company’s suburban weekly Community Newspapers Inc., where 19 people were dismissed in May, insiders report. This leaves the decimated CNI news staff at just 20 people, down from more than 100 just a few years ago. A separate suburban unit of Journal Communications, Lake Country Publications group, has also been cutting jobs. The end result is far less…

Sudden Death

Giants like WTMJ and WISN dwarf it, but WMCS occupies a unique niche in Milwaukee’s AM radio marketplace. It’s a pipeline for information to and from the city’s black community – more than one-third of the city’s population. And until his sudden departure in late winter, popular afternoon talk host Eric Von was the station’s most important voice. “If you wanted to reach people in City Hall, you didn’t go to Mark Belling,” says one political insider. Or Charlie Sykes. “You went to Eric Von. At City Hall, they had his show turned on all afternoon.” So when Von quit…

Web War I

Milwaukee may be a one-newspaper town, but in cyberspace, there’s a media war for the eyeballs of the young and trendy. A decade ago, OnMilwaukee.com pioneered coverage of nightlife, entertainment and “lifestyle” news on the Web. Now it faces growing competition. Last year, the Shepherd Express alternative weekly overhauled its Web site, renamed ExpressMilwaukee.com, with more timely entertainment, breaking news and more ways for readers to connect. Now a newcomer has muscled onto the electronic turf: Milwaukee.Decider.com, spawn of the successful Onion faux-newspaper empire. Of course, the execs at all three publicly welcome their rivals. “Competition’s a good thing,” says…

News for Elites?

News of state government and politics is harder to find these days, but for those who want it in endless depth, there’s an answer: WisconsinEye. Launched in 2007, WisconsinEye is a nonprofit cable channel and Internet site funded by foundations and the broadcast industry. It’s a sort of C-SPAN for the state, and about two dozen other states now have one. Overseen by a bipartisan board, the Eye broadcasts entire legislative sessions, committee meetings, state Supreme Court arguments, and talking-head interviews and panels on public policy. It works with other media: Veteran journalists Steve Walters (Journal Sentinel Madison bureau chief)…

The Crusaders

Across the country, newspapers are ditching costly investigative reporting and relentlessly running local – almost hyperlocal – coverage. The approach saves staff costs for papers beset by shrinking revenue, and the uniquely local stories woo readers engulfed by online alternatives. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a remarkable exception. Facing the same pressures, it has instead increased its investigative reporting with massive projects bordering on journalistic crusades, led by a long series on drunken driving and one on the hazards of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). These have joined quicker, consumer-oriented “Public Investigator” stories and a series of online databases, all…