If I was back in my old newspaper job, I'd have been taking phone calls over the past two days from viewers of the network newscasts on Channels 4, 12 and 58, complaining about how their daily habit was disrupted by live coverage Tuesday of Brett Favre's first public appearance as a Viking.
Absent the phone calls, I'll quote my pal Jim Rowen's blog posting from yesterday:
"Favre's signing with the Vikings was all over the news all day. It is hardly 'breaking' or 'news' at this hour, and will certainly be the lead at the 6 p.m. local 'news' broadcast, then repeated again during the sports segments a few minutes after that. TV's slavish devotion to all things Packers, even to former Packers, is pathetic, as its its disregard for the rest of the news."
Jim's no grumpy old crank. He's a former Journal Sentinel reporter and he was a chief of staff to Mayor John Norquist. But neither his anger, nor the calls of angry viewers are going to change this.
Long-time readers aren't going to be surprised by what's coming next: There are only two big news stories, as far as Milwaukee TV is concerned, the weather and the Green Bay Packers. Both stories touch a wide swath of viewers and are the focus of Milwaukee TV news in the way many other television markets follow the "if it bleeds, it leads" dictum that puts crime reports at the top of the news.
If it's green and gold, it's golden. When you watch a local newscast, notice how Packers news is packaged separately from the rest of sports.
Any of the four Milwaukee TV news outlets that wasn't carrying Favre's news conference would have lost a sizable chunk of their viewership to a competitor.
It doesn't mean I like it. But it's a reality of Milwaukee television that you have to understand if you want to keep your blood pressure in check. And instead of complaining about your lost network news, there's always PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" at 6:30 p.m. nightly on Channel 36. It's not only an hour long and commercial free, it's never, ever, ever going to be displaced by Brett Favre.
And while we're on the topic of live news conferences, the appearance by Milwaukee's crime-fightin' mayor, Tom Barrett, before TV cameras late this morning, the first appearance since he took on a bad guy in West Allis Saturday night, offered the best sound bite of this national story: "I'm still standing."
Makes you wonder if the incident will move the battered, but unbowed mayor from a standing position to running, now that Jim Doyle's job is opening up. The video of his news conference, especially THE quote of the day, is enough to get his candidacy rolling.
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.