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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,…

Sullivan on Public Officials as Reporters

Editors of small-town newspapers sometimes lack the judgment (and self-respect) to remain independent of government.  During these lapses of decision-making, one finds that elected or appointed officials become, themselves, reporters on their own stories.  (For a case like this in Whitewater involving a school board member, see Public Officials Should Not Be Reporters.) Margaret Sullivan, of the…

One Paywall to Rule Them All?

Two days ago, I wrote about another local newspaper becoming part of the APG chain. See Another Newspaper in the Shredder. It’s possible that these acquisitions will lead to an area-wide paywall, and perhaps even a strong paywall (hard to get around even with advances in incognito browsing). The theory, one supposes, is that the…

Another Newspaper in the Shredder

One reads that APG has purchased another Wisconsin newspaper, the Beloit Daily News.   A few reminders: 1. Advertising revenue won’t sustain most locals newspapers, in print or online. 2. Only desperate advertisers will pay for ads in local newspapers running mostly press releases. There aren’t enough of desperate advertisers. 3. Subscriptions (for newspapers or…

Public Records Requests as Pre-Litigation Actions

Wisconsinites submitting public records requests under the law (Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31 et seq.) may do so for any number of reasons (and need not declare a motivation of any sort). Not everyone will have the same aims in mind. For someone who’s a publisher (newspaper, magazine, blogger), however, a sensible way to look at…

What Can Be Done About Rural Newspapers (Even Though It Probably Won’t Be)?

Yesterday I wrote that Another Local Paper Changes Hands. With the failure of legacy publishing, what are rural communities to do? (Obvious point: FREE WHITEWATER is not an online newspaper – never aspired to be, never will be. This is a website of independent commentary: aligned with no faction, beholden to no faction.) A few…

Lessons from a Digital Newspaper Now Making Money

In late April, I wrote about The Media’s ‘Post-Advertising’ Future (advertising’s not enough to sustain publications, subscriptions will prove necessary for most publications, and “[t]he key lesson for publishers is to offer sharp (and sometimes sharp-tongued) writing, to see that content is king”).  (A word about FREE WHITEWATER.  This website accepts no advertising, requires no…

The Media’s ‘Post-Advertising’ Future

Nationally and locally, the media (whether profit or non-profit) continue their significant transformation: the decline of print, the rise of (interactive) digital media, and the collapse of a middle-of-the-road partnership of boosterism between mediocre newspapers and middling officials. Print’s doomed, and so is digital that merely repeats the same banal style of contemporary print. Traditional…

Clever? Not Really…

One reads that the Daily Union, a local paper chasing alleged embezzlement first reported in the Janesville Gazette, has decided to grab the story and add a supposedly clever headline: Honest to goodness, how does editor Chris Spangler expect ordinary people to keep up with a subtle headline like that? One needs to take a…