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‘Communicate, Communicate, Communicate’ Isn’t So Easy in a Fractured Town

Some years ago, an administrator (no longer with the school district) told others that a good practice for leaders was to ‘communicate, communicate, communicate’ with the community. The concept makes sense: craft a message and then make sure it’s heard by repeating it. In a small town, how hard could that be? As it turns…

Why People Still Get Print Newspapers

In Whitewater – like other small places across America – there may still be nearby newspapers, but none of any merit. If one thought only of quality as the measure of survival, then for the Whitewater area the Gazette, Daily Union, and Register would long ago have vanished. (Indeed, I have underestimated the longevity of…

The Journal Sentinel’s Footnoted Reply to Ron Johnson’s Op-Ed

Last week, the Journal Sentinel called on Sen. Ron Johnson to resign or be expelled over his repeated election-related lies and conspiracy theories. Johnson wrote in reply to the paper. In response to his reply, the Journal Sentinel footnoted Johnson’s reply with 19 specific refutations. A few remarks: If Johnson runs again, the Journal Sentinel won’t decide…

Campaign Conflicts of Interest at a Self-Described Local News Source

The Whitewater Unified School District’s board will see a contested February primary and a contested April general election. Regrettably, Whitewater has no professional newspaper, print or electronic, to cover that race. A post from today at the Whitewater Banner, entitled “Whitewater Unified School District Returns to In-Person Learning; Tom Ganser Photos Show the Excitement at…

After a News Desert

A news desert is a community without coverage from a daily newspaper. If coverage means timely newspaper reporting on a city’s principal public meetings and events, then Whitewater has been a news desert since the nearby Daily Jefferson County Union stopped reporting on Whitewater’s common council & school board meetings. If coverage means timely, insightful,…

Public Relations v. Journalism

Anyone familiar with a proper newspaper should be able to tell the difference between public relations and journalism: the former advances a corporate or government perspective, the latter reports and assesses that perspective. There are public relations outfits (often called media relations) in big and small communities, with this obvious difference: small communities have few…

The Janesville Gazette‘s Time-Share Stage of Decline

A nearby newspaper, the Janesville Gazette, part of an out-of-state chain (APG) owned by a family that made billions in billboard advertising, recently tried to position half-off advertising as a ‘community grant‘ program. See That’s Not a ‘Community Grant’ – It’s Half-Off Advertising. It’s an old – often true – adage that bad goes to…

Demand Letters

A demand letter is an attorney’s formal request on behalf of a client for either money or action from a third party. Demand letters can be sent before or after a lawsuit is filed. Although these letters typically demand an amount of money, they can also ask for actions including apologies or retractions for a…

That’s Not a ‘Community Grant’ – It’s Half-Off Advertising

One of the saddest traits of local newspapers is how those publications condescend to readers. Another example of this comes from the Janesville Gazette, where that publication is contending that half-off advertising is somehow a community grant. Splashed all over the webpage of that paper yesterday, one found ads for the so-called community grant program.…

APG Was Always Going to Play a Vulture’s Role

One reads that APG, the out-of-state newspaper chain that purchased two local family papers (Janesville Gazette, Daily Jefferson County Union) is slashing the salaries of those papers’ employees. A few remarks — I’m not a newspaperman, and have never aspired to be one. Bloggers are modern-day pamphleteers, reviving a tradition that was robust during our…

A Newspaper’s Boosterism During a Pandemic

A worthy person – a man or woman committed to reason, honesty, and seriousness of purpose – would have little respect for the Janesville Gazette. This critical view is not a new one, truly: the paper’s work has been inferior during the Great Recession, during an opioid crisis, during cheerleading for countless state and local…

Five Months

In a local newspaper’s story about a former chancellor’s leave of absence, one learns that information about her leave came five months after a public records request: Tuesday marked five months since The Gazette filed an open records request with UW-W for information on Kopper’s leave during the fall semester, when she previously had plans…