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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 17, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz Commentary

Dave's main reaction was "are you kidding me?"

Walker gossip fluff reflects paper's pandering


I guess this could have been expected, but the official funeral for the one daily newspaper in Milwaukee is finally here.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has finally committed suicide.

What I'm talking about is the banner headline in Wednesday's paper, which you can see above.

We've all heard the term "banner headline" before. What that means in the newspaper business is a headline on a big, big story. The headline runs the entire width of the paper, just under the nameplate.

I can't begin to capture the disgust, sadness, frustration and downright anger over the absurd depths to which this paper has fallen.

To understand how bad this is, it's important to note that the newspaper was, at one time, one of the very best in the country. People in the business claimed that the paper covered its community better than just about any other paper in the U.S.

But like papers everywhere, readership began to flee to this thing called the Internet and they couldn't keep up. First they tried to be more like TV with bright colors, short stories and lots of pictures. Then they tried to go online, but they didn't have a clue about how to do it.

So now we are left with a seemingly endless story about the college days of Gov. Scott Walker.

Now, anybody who has been paying attention knows that I am not a fan of the governor. I don't think he's particularly good for all the people of the state.

But when I saw, and struggled to read the entire thing, I had a hard time keeping my breakfast down.

My main reaction was "are you kidding me?"

This story is over 50 column inches about absolutely nothing. The craziness about Barack Obama's birthplace seems like thoughtful commentary compared with this absolutely worthless waste of ink and paper.

First of all, who cares if Walker had some days of distortion while in college? Who among us didn't?

But as it turns out, this story is about the absolute worst kind of gossip. False gossip. Sour grapes gossip. Unattributed gossip.

Hell, I used to be a gossip columnist for the paper. "Leave It To Begel" it was called. But I had some standards for my gossip.

First of all it had to be relatively important. It had to actually mean something. Secondly there had to be some truth to it. And finally, it had to be interesting.

This crap piece on Walker's college career meets none of those standards.

I think there is an important role that a good daily newspaper can play in a community. I'm sad about the demise of this one.

But if all they intend to give us is this kind of useless and one-sided bull, we'd probably all be better off without it.


Talkbacks

DT | Dec. 19, 2013 at 11:34 a.m. (report)

Bigger question is "what's a paper?"

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wihomer | Dec. 19, 2013 at 9:28 a.m. (report)

Exactly what i thought when i read it. They are resorting to rumors posted on websites that are obviously in complete opposition to a person and acting like it is fact. I wonder if anyone there even has taken journalism classes. If they have, they are not using anything that is taught.

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Photodavie | Dec. 19, 2013 at 8:50 a.m. (report)

Have you looked at your articles over the years Dave? Perhaps you shouldn't throw stones.

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AndrewJ | Dec. 19, 2013 at 8:42 a.m. (report)

Good article, Dave. The inept editors at the Journal will brush this off as sour grapes on your part, I'm sure. But you are spot on. The headline should have read: Head of WI Democratic Party Lied About Walker

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