It is fitting for an overcast autumn day. Welcome to the November sweeps.
You thought I was going to say Halloween, didn’t you?
For area television station staffs, this can be a scary time. The book periods happen each month, but the big ones are called sweeps. From now until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, WTMJ-TV Ch. 4, WITI-TV Ch. 6, WISN-TV Ch. 12 and WDJT-TV Ch. 58 will be scrambling in an effort to get the largest viewership possible. The reason is that the next few months of advertising rates will be determined by the performance measured in November and delivered through Nielsen ratings.
That means we will be treated to some of the best TV journalism our market has to offer. I will cover some of the highlights, starting here, today:
WISN-TV covers massive effort to get one deer
Airing tonight at 10 p.m., the WISN-TV Ch. 12 will present a follow-up report on a fawn that was named Giggles.
While talking with WISN reporter Colleen Henry earlier this week, she explained to me that while reporting on an incident in July, there were so many more questions than answers.
Here’s a little background:
In July, a pair of tips came into the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that a deer was being kept at a shelter run by the Society of St. Francis near the Illinois border in Kenosha County.
In Wisconsin, it is illegal to be in the possession of wildlife. In certain cases, the state will allow the housing of wild deer with a permit. This no-kill animal shelter didn’t have one, but they did have a baby deer.
So, the DNR conducted an investigation, took aerial photos, got a signed search warrant and went in with more than a dozen armed agents to seize the deer. The DNR used a tranquilizer to secure the animal, took it offsite and killed it.
Ray Schulze, who was working in the barn area the day of the siege, told the agents that the shelter had worked out a deal with a wildlife refuge in Illinois to take Giggles the following day.
Many media outlets in the area covered this story. Soon after it aired in Milwaukee, it was picked up by CNN and other national and international news outlets.
Now, after months of tracking down open records with this incident, Henry is running a report of her findings, offering details of planning and staff communications before and after Giggles was killed.
"The question for the DNR is if the resources were appropriate here," Henry said. "We asked a lot of questions and its pretty revealing in the open records."
Henry said that she was in Madison this week getting her hands on the documents, including emails sent between staffers as well as the steps that the DNR followed in executing the warrant.
"There were all sorts of reaction," Henry said after the original report aired in early August. Beyond the outrage from animal protection groups and political conservatives that want less government, there were death threats sent to DNR personnel, as well.
One of the fact revealed in the new report is that one agent was dressed in camouflage, hiding in the bushes for two days on the stakeout.
"After the event a number of emails were exchanged between staff members involved, congratulating each other for the wonderful job they did," Henry said.
Here’s a link to the first report on Giggles on WISN.com.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.