Overexposed

Joining Vice President Dick Cheney’s motorcade in Green Bay, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photographer Dale Guldan hoped to capture a unique image during an otherwise scripted campaign visit in September. Did he ever. Jumping on and off the press bus, Guldan says he took dozens of pictures at well-orchestrated photo opportunities. On the way to Milwaukee, however, former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr convinced Cheney to make an unscheduled stop in Glendale to visit local favorite Kopp’s Frozen Custard, according to New York Times reporter Rick Lyman. When Cheney ordered a decaf coffee and sat on a concrete ledge outside,…

The Editor Killer

Shepherd Express Metro Publisher Lou Fortis likens newspaper editors to babysitters, a comparison certain to make most editors bristle. “Until a level of trust is established,” Fortis says, he keeps a close eye on his newspaper before leaving it alone in the care of an editor. So it came as no surprise that Bruce Murphy quit in November as Shepherd Express Metro editor after only six months on the job. Murphy was the fifth Shepherd editor in four years. Bluntly put, the Shepherd has become an editor killer, and the stage is set for future editors to fall. Two editors…

Little Sister Goes to War

When Chief Warrant Officer Lucky Mertes guided Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Katherine Skiba to a foxhole after an Iraqi missile attack in Kuwait, she called him “my hero” in a newspaper story and gave him a copy as thanks. Following the attack, Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Gregg addressed the troops while Skiba addressed Gregg. “After I eased my way out, I approached Gregg with open arms, saying, ‘I need a hug,’ ” recalls Skiba, assigned to a United States Army unit for 50 days in 2003. “If it was unsoldierly, I didn’t know better – or didn’t care.” Do embedded reporters…

Featherweight

Even MKE Assistant Editor Sonya Jongsma Knauss, a 29-year-old former editor at the politically active weekly Riverwest Currents, seems to long for news in her newspaper. “Obviously, it’s not a news publication, and I miss doing politics and local news sometimes,” says Jongsma Knauss.“There are many different things a publication can do, though, and it would be a mistake to try to do everything.” Would it? Reviews are in for Journal Communications’ new weekly targeting readers 25 to 34 years old and the consensus is that “dumb and dumber” is no way to woo young audiences. “It’s hard to imagine anything…

Do As I Say…

Shortly after conservative WISN-AM (1130) host Mark Belling sparked a firestorm of protests by using the ethnic slur “wetback,” the liberal Shepherd Express newspaper launched a campaign against him by reporting the names of Belling sponsors that cancelled ads or could be boycotted. Funny how Shepherd Publisher and Editor Louis Fortis seems to have forgotten about a similar scandal at his own media organization a mere eight months earlier. In a series of reports on Belling, the Shepherd condemned the slur as “hate speech,” called on conservative radio stations to offer more “balance” by airing liberal hosts and urged “concerned…

Editorial Flip-flopping

“A newspaper endorsement is a useful contribution to the public debate during a campaign,” says Philip Seib, Marquette University’s Neiman Professor of Journalism. “Nobody has to agree with it.” As the media circus of  Inauguration Day approaches, consider the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s endorsement odyssey. When it comes to endorsing for president, this curiously unpredictable newspapergets slammed no matter what it tries. Endorsements may not change many votes, but they do spark a powerful, lasting response in people’s hearts and minds. In 1996, after the Journal Sentinel endorsed -Republican Bob Dole, an irate reader wrote “SHAME”in bright red ink on copies…

Clownswaggled

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Crocker Stephenson never liked clowns until he met Ron Schroeder, a part-time local entertainer who goes by the name “Silly the Clown.” In a February 10 column on why clowns are often hated or even feared, Stephenson had this to say: “Ron Schroeder, I like.” It wasn’t until after the column hit newsstands that Stephenson learned that Silly the Clown has a criminal record. Seems Stephenson didn’t do a background check on ­Schroeder before he profiled him as a model clown, and the bizarre story behind this story is alternately chilling, puzzling and absurdly comical. On…

Cooking the News

Alternative journalism was a labor of love for Doug Hissom, who worked for decades as a reporter and sometime editor at the weekly Shepherd Express. Hissom’s family shared that passion: His father, Jim Hissom, worked in the circulation department for years before his death in 2005. But Hissom was fired in April, the latest of many dismissals and resignations involving employees who ran afoul of Shepherd owner Lou Fortis. “We lost 15 employees in about a year and a half,” says Toni Kirkendoll, business manager from 1998 to 2004 and one of several employees who have taken Fortis to court.…

Suburban Shutdown

For years, Oak Creek Mayor Richard Bolender has heard the same complaint about his town’s newspaper. The Oak Creek Pictorial “is a nice little newspaper, but there’s very little in it about Oak Creek,” he says. Now there’s likely to be even less. Community Newspapers Inc., owned by Journal Communications, has slashed its stable of suburban weeklies, merging 18 publications into just 11. The Oak Creek Pictorial has been merged with the papers that covered Cudahy, St. Francis, South Milwaukee and Bay View. Some 15 jobs have been eliminated, out of roughly 140 (full- and part-time) at CNI. The company…

Turmoil at TMJ

WTMJ-TV News Director Bill Berra calls his departing anchor a Milwaukee icon. “Mike Gousha is probably the best anchor in the country,” Berra gushes. “He could come back tomorrow and be our anchor for as long as he wants.” So why, then, did Gousha resign from the station that has become synonymous with his name? His last day will be August 25, and Gousha resigned without having secured another job. Some insiders say he was pushed out by Berra. That’s a shock for TMJ4, long the standard bearer for journalistic integrity, but the station has been shaken by slumping ratings.…