Saturday, July 11, 2015

A day late, without (D) comment, is JS Journalism Fail 101

Bad enough that yesterdays's Journal Sentinel story about the withdrawn Open Records amendment only quoted and cited Walker and his GOP legislative allies, but the Journal Sentinel is freshly running AP copy 24 hours after Walker launched his predictable finger-pointingexcuse-making about the scandalous and censorious Open Records amendment he helped slip into his own budget.

I posted that news Friday morning when it was available, with context about Walker's pattern of evasion - - but the AP copy which the paper is running today does not quote, nor does the Journal Sentinel choose to insert with a full extra day to find it any independent observer on the subject.

Or a Democratic legislator who'd had a lot to say about what GOP legislative leaders and Walker himself eventually had pulled.

Fox6 TV in Milwaukee had quoted Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca on the matter six days ago.

Why do Walker (via a friendly right-wing radio talk show) and his legislative allies get to define in the state's largest newspaper 100% of the history and narrative about the amendment, its history and implications?

Is there only one side to this story?

Very disappointing editorial decision-making at 4th and State.


Anonymous said...

That's why the last time the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was awarded a Pulitzer Prize was back in 2011.

James Rowen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We have :) My point is that MJS seems to be in a state of decline. MJS would have been much more impactful had they reported even a quarter of what you've reported on your blog, Mr. Rowen. I thought Pulitzer's are awarded based on impactful reporting - reporting that really makes a difference in people's lives, and that's my point. MJS has the reporters that are willing and able to do that kind of reporting, but for some reason they've been held back. (And my understanding is that reporters don't pick where their reports are placed within the 'pages' of the paper or always write the headlines, but that such things do make a difference). Had MJS done the right thing all along as Wisconsin's largest newspaper, Wisconsin wouldn't be in the mess it's in today.

James Rowen said...

Ops. I deleted my own comment! That's a first. My point was that measuring a paper's quality by Pulitzers is a pretty harsh standard, as many fine papers have never won one and the JS has three relatively recently, plus other top-tier awards.

Pulitzers are awarded for specific stories, columns or series, or for systematic coverage on a theme - - but all in a given year. I acknowledge the falloff in beat coverages and at the JS, but I also understand the staff has been shrunk through buyouts and I believe another is coming. Reporters are multi-tasking, story and coverage coherence is diminished, people are asked to do more with less. It is not a happy organization right now..

I believe it is still true that reporters do not determine story location or write headlines, though they can lobby for location (always a risk, as it's stepping on superiors' toes and inherently arrogant) and can suggest a better or corrected headline. Online offers that opportunity now immediately, and stories can flow faster with reporters' blogging and Tweeting, too.

Generally, I think the JS has done good reporting on Walker, and the Doe, and while people complain about PolitiFact, it has provided clarifications, often ignored.

The Journal Editorial board has too often excused Walker, or soft-pedaled its criticisms, but that is a different operation from news coverage assignment, story placement, reporter time allotment, etc.

Anonymous said...

First it was a blog which wouldn't show up in print and now an AP story thst is now buried online. Hopefully it will see print on the first page. But you're right - very poor journalism. AP actually wrote a better story and that got up front placement. Look at all the articles coming up after the budget was signed. Did the open records consume their time. Are they to short on staff. Is Stanley manipulating again?