All I know is what I don't read in the papers ... | WisCommunity

All I know is what I don't read in the papers ...

Have you ever noticed that the news media really can only cover one story at a time?

It's one story, 24 hours a day, until some other shiny object attracts their attention. A lot of things just get lost in the shuffle.

That's even more true with newspaper staffs cut in half and stretched thin on the news side while features, fluff and attention-getters like PolitiFact suck up valuable staff.

And what with the Battle for Wisconsin, including the Walker budget and subsequent recalls, it's little wonder other things get short shrift.

Fortunately (for them, not us), when you're the state's biggest paper and have no real competition there is no penalty for reporting things when you get around to it --or not at all. In Milwaukee, as in many cities, the competition to be first with a story disappeared long ago. In many cases now, if the Journal Sentinel decides to pass on a story, it simply disappears.

Here's one that sat on the shelf for a long time but finally made its way into the paper: Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce's radio spots supporting a mining bill that hasn't been introduced yet. WMC announced its campaign two weeks ago and began running the spots on May 31.

This is not intended to knock any reporters; they don't determine their work flow or prioritize what will be covered, what there "might be space" for, what will be limited to a brief or spiked. It's about how the system works, and why more people are relying on alternative sources of information., the Internet political website and newsletter, reported to its subscribers the day the spots began to air:

WMC is up with a series of radio ads urging support for the so-called "Jobs for Generations Act," which would speed approval of Gogebic Taconite's proposed iron mine in Ashland and Iron counties.


Versions of the ad are running in the six districts in which Republican senators are facing recall.


The ad says the ore can be “safely mined for generations, all while protecting our environment, just like they've done in Minnesota and Michigan.”


The ads say the mine will create 2,000 jobs on-site initially and support thousands of jobs across the state “for years to come.” They also note that mine workers will earn more than $60,000 per year, that the mining equipment will be made in Wisconsin and that the mine will generate billions of dollars of economic activity and millions of dollars in tax revenue over its 100-year life.


See more on the campaign:

Some stories never make it at all, even when reporters are interested.

In mid-May, as part of his attempts to push the Nuclear Regulagory Commission to learn lessons from Fukushima, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey's office released a report listing all known problems with back-up diesel generators at nuclear reactors, over the past eight years.

Kewaunee is on the list three times. In one case at Kewaunkee, the emergency backup generator was out of commission for 51 days. The Prairie Island plant, just across the Mississippi River from Wisconsin, is on the list five times. So there's clearly a local angle, even if Markey is not a Wisconsin Congressman.

I had an email exchange with a Journal Sentinel business reporter -- all nuclear energy news is classified as business and runs in that section of the paper, for reasons that are unclear -- who said he was aware of the story, had already done some interviews, and planned to write something the next day. Never happened. Don't know why, but that really doesn't matter. Readers never got the information.

Here's a news story about the report, not from the Journal Sentinel, but the Boston Globe.


June 13, 2011 - 2:57pm