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In Movies & TV Commentary

Is there really a lefty bias in Milwaukee's daily newspaper?

OnMedia: That darn liberal rag


Last week's revelation by Dan Bice in his Journal Sentinel column that county executive candidate Chris Abele didn't deal with a drunken driving citation for years is one of those stories that could sink a candidacy.

Then, on Sunday, the top story on the Journal Sentinel's front page reported that state troopers were writing fewer traffic tickets during the Capitol protests, when they were drawn off the roads to keep on eye on the crowds.

Neither of these stories fit into the mythical notion of the Journal Sentinel as a lefty newspaper, slanting its coverage to help Democrats.

That's not to say you couldn't find such stories, even in Sunday paper, where another front-page story quotes Supreme Court Justice David Prosser as calling Chief Justice Shirley Abraham a "bitch."

Of course, that's the point.

The Journal Sentinel is neither liberal nor conservative -- especially on its news pages.

Its anachronistic editorial page is a whole other deal (remember, it endorsed Scott Walker for governor and Abele for county exec).

Still, ideologues on both sides have plenty of material to complain about, and you can read hundreds of their pearls of wisdom on stories posted anonymously at JS Online.

You know, like this (uncorrected) gem from "allOverAgain:" "The demorats are the lowliest form of life on the planet, the ends justify the means, so the candidate is of little consequence. Bring us your wretched, morally challenged, and principally bankrupt, we are the proud marxist/demorat party."

At least a little more focused was this critic of the newspaper, "WIbloodlines," who typed, "The conservative JS will keep digging up these very old or non-newsworthy stories..."

Another, calling himself "MKEblues," asked Bice, "Dan, aren't you worried that the JS endorsed Abele?"

This modern practice of ranting behind a silly pseudonym is a topic for another day. But, of course, it adds nothing to the political discussion but vitriol.

While I can't speak for Bice, I can speak as a former Journal Sentinel reporter. Reporters don't spend a lot of time worrying about what the editorial page does. The concern of a good reporter is the story that you're working on; that it's accurate and fair and as complete as possible.

And the fine reporters on these stories, Bice, Cary Spivak, Ben Poston, Patrick Marley and Larry Sandler are professionals. They work hard to keep their own views out of their stories. I'm not saying they're liberal. In most cases, I don't even know their individual views.

I've been in this business for more than three decades and have heard complaints of media bias ever since I started as a wire service reporter in Chicago. Generally, a media bias complaint comes when a story doesn't fit a reader's particular point of view.

The news doesn't always fit in an us-and-them point of view that is fostered by conservative talk radio, but mirrored by partisans on the left. Some reporters covering the Madison protests felt it from protesters with an "if you're not with us, your against us" attitude.

Ideologues seem to forget that not everybody is an ideologue. In fact, I believe most people aren't.

But they're the ones squawking, both online and on talk radio, obscuring any real political discussion.

In the meantime, reporters will continue to report.

On TV: In what could potentially be a big deal, Netflix has picked up its first original series, a politically thriller called "House of Cards" starring Kevin Spacey. It won't launch until late 2012, but could continue the revolution in how we watch television and present another challenge to tradition networks.

  • Nothing's official, but it's likely that Sunday night's season finale of ABC's "Detroit 1-8-7" will be the final installment of the well-made, but little-watched cop show.
  • Speaking of doomed ABC shows, the network has scheduled a non-rerun of "No Ordinary Family" for Saturday night, the place shows go to die. Again, there's no official word on the fate of show. It was originally scheduled for March 29.
  • In a sign of the power of Fox's "Glee," the show's first original songs, "Losers Like Me" and "Get it Right," hit the top of the iTunes chart last week, after they aired on the show.
  • Syfy has ordered a second season of British remake "Being Human."
  • The Chicago Sun-Times has had another round on newsroom layoffs, including media/advertising columnist Lewis Lazare.

A bit of a wait for "Terra Nova" on Fox: "Terra Nova," a drama with Steve Spielberg's name among the executive producers, was supposed to debut later this spring. But Fox has pushed what it calls an "one of the most ambitious television series ever produced" back to this fall.

The special-effects laden show is about time travel, a dying planet in 2149 and an family colonizing the prehistoric Earth in an attempt at a second chance to build civilization.

Instead, Fox released this 30-second promo for the upcoming show:

Talkbacks

phantomcat | March 23, 2011 at 11:33 a.m. (report)

tommcmahon, The analogy is hiring a sportswriter who insists on publishing the correct score. When a talk radio or TV show displays a track record of lies and distortions, from either side, I find it informative when a critic brings such untruths to light. Fox "news" reports information that appeals to it's base, without regard for the facts.

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hintysen | March 23, 2011 at 11:07 a.m. (report)

The chief justice of the state Supreme Court is Shirley Abrahamson, not Abraham.

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phantomcat | March 23, 2011 at 10:07 a.m. (report)

Wonderful article. An apparent fly in this controversial ointment is the misconception that radio WTMJ (The Milwaukee Journal) and the newspaper are joined at the hip. Once a very dependable source for news and commentary, that radio station now has become so right leaning that at times will make Glenn Beck blush, as in the (Johnathon Green time slot) that broadcast, as a fact, Pres. Obama was building a death (concentration) camp for the elderly. Given that those on the right eagerly accept that misinformation, and the fact that the broadcasts continually discredit the integrity of the Journal-Sentinel, many form their bias against the newspaper without ever reading it.

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Pete. | March 23, 2011 at 8:28 a.m. (report)

Good article. Yes, there are both liberal and conservative writers at the JS, but overall I would agree that it's a pretty mainstream newspaper without much slant. As for Mr. Cuprisin - he writes about TV and radio. Where would politics even fit in his articles? I haven't seen any bias one way or the other. Mkelover claiming that the term "your side" proves Cuprisin's slant is completely laughable. Some people are just paranoid, I guess.

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sandstorm | March 23, 2011 at 7:20 a.m. (report)

i wasn't wrong. they were not "bound" anywhere until the brackets were announced.

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