Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Consequences Of Staff Cuts At The Journal Sentinel

Local TV web operations beat the paper getting out the news about Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's beating Saturday night leaving State Fair.

That's a huge story. beat everyone in the state disclosing that Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle was not running for a third term.

Another big story.

News cycle and weekend staffing issues were no doubt involved in the paper's following TV outlets and sites when it came to the Barrett story, and yes, is dedicated to politics and election coverage, but I cannot help but think we're seeing what happens when print severely cuts reportorial staff: plugged-in are no longer at the top of sources' minds.

That's a problem for the community-at-large.

And not a good sign of things to come.


Rich Eggleston said...

It's not just the number of reporters on the job, but how well connected they are. And the sad fact is that print journalism is being eclipsed by electronic and cyber journalism.

If Gene Harrington were still working at the Milwaukee Journal, or Neil Shively were still working at the Milwaukee Sentinel, with their accumulated decades of political sources, Politico might not have gotten the Doyle story first. Of course, they're no longer at the Capitol, and the Journal and the Sentinel have moved to mergerland.

Regarding the attack on Mayor Barrett, print long ago ceded the instant news territory to the electronic media. And the march of technology continues.

"Call *15, air time free on your U.S. Cellular phone," one newscast in Madison advises.

Or text your news tip, just not while you're driving, please.

Print could still deliver incisive analysis and cover a story like a blanket, if it had the bodies to do so.

Fraley said...


Perhaps the ONE thing we can agree on is that the fact that there are fewer eyes (experienced or not) watching and reporting what is going on in Madison is very bad for the State of Wisconsin and its residents of every political stripe.

We've gone from arguing about the quality of reporting to lamenting the quantity of news. Sad indeed.

(An experienced editor would have modified that first run on sentence, by the way...)

James Rowen said...

To Fraley: I am always available to edit your copy.