The conservative Journal Communications is moving even further to the right.
If you think it is difficult for liberals to get coverage in Milwaukee now, just wait. It will get worse soon. The handwriting was on the wall when the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel announced years ago a merger of the only two statewide newspapers. The afternoon Journal, a liberal-leaning paper, and the conservative morning Sentinel would become one paper — taking the best from both was the promise. It seems obvious that the Sentinel, not the liberal Journal, has been the real survivor.
One of the first actions the Journal Sentinel took was to get rid of progressive columnist Joel McNally, who fit in at the Journal but not at the merged paper.
Another shoe dropped recently. Another round of buyouts at the Journal Sentinel will eliminate more good reporters who might have covered the news. (Hard to believe but Journal Communications Inc. used to be employee-owned.) Liberal columnist Eugene Kane accepted a buyout after 31 years with the paper, though he will continue to write a Sunday column and will do regular blogs.
Kane’s buyout means a diminished presence for, in James Rowen’s words, “a thoughtful and liberal voice in the paper.” Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in America. The voice of an African-American columnist has been important in that setting. Kane is respected as someone who searches for good ideas.
Also owned by Journal Communications Inc. is WTMJ radio, with its daily flailing away at Democrats or RINOs — Republicans In Name Only. Democrats running for office never get a break from WTMJ talk show host Charlie Sykes. A Democrat might be endorsed by the newspaper from time to time, but never by Sykes.
When the Journal Sentinel editorial board is asked about how unfair Sykes, and therefore Journal Communications Inc., is, they smile and say they don’t listen to him. Well, folks, I could not care less if the Journal Sentinel board members listen to him, but Journal Communications Inc. has an obligation to the public to be fair when it comes to campaigns. Like it or not, Sykes works for Journal Communications — so they are responsible for Sykes. They make Fox seem balanced. Unless candidates can purchase time on Milwaukee’s largest radio and TV outlets, they are in a bind. Liberals have no way of breaking through the sound barrier erected by Journal Communications unless they buy the time and that ain’t fair and it is not right. Remember the fairness doctrine? Time to revive it.
Sykes and other talk show hosts lean so far to the right that they would tip over if a liberal breeze ever came through the WTMJ studios. In addition to talk radio, Journal Communications owns WTMJ-TV and lots more.
Milwaukee has become the hot spot in the nation for reactionary thought. It’s home to the Bradley Foundation and has been ground zero for school vouchers. When far-right advocates want to try out another right-wing experiment, they go to Milwaukee. The thought seems to be that if they can sell the idea in Milwaukee, they can sell it anywhere.
(Add this to your thoughts about Journal Communications: The firm hired lobbyists to push the state to build Miller Park. Soon they will push for taxpayers to build a new arena for the Bucks. If you want the inside scoop, listen to WTMJ.)
(A version of this article originally appeared in the opinion section of the Capital Times.)
October 16, 2012
post a letter about this article »
read letters on this article (2)
Ed Garvey is editor and publisher of FightingBob.com.