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Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Weekly Briefing

Thursday, March 23, 2017

WNA goes to D.C.

Wisconsin was well represented in Washington, D.C., last week during the National Newspaper Association's Community Newspaper Leadership Summit. Pictured here, from left, at the National Press Club are Kevin Flink, publisher of The Tribune-Phonograph in Abbotsford; Melissa Behling, a UW-Madison student and WNA Foundation/NNA Foundation News Fellow; and Andrew Johnson, publisher of the Dodge County Pionier in Mayville and president of the WNA Foundation.
Fiscal Bureau's analysis of state budget raises red flags on public notice proposal
Call Joint Committee on Finance to oppose notice language

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s review of the proposed state budget was critical of language that would eliminate newspaper publication requirements for more than 50 types of public notices.

The WNA is asking members to contact the Joint Committee on Finance to oppose the public notice provisions and to highlight the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s own analysis that reveals the proposal’s lack of clarity and support for the best interests of the public. Members should also encourage the public to contact the Joint Committee on Finance to oppose the public notice measures. A new set of print and web ads are available to promote this effort (see story below).

Under the current proposal, newspaper publication requirements would be eliminated for the majority of First Class public notices that report on the activities of local government. These include meeting minutes, budgets, financial reports, ordinances, resolutions and many more. Local governments would be allowed to post these notices on their own websites instead of publishing them in the local newspaper and on the statewide public notice website,

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s review of the proposed budget highlighted several concerns about the public notice provisions.

“The bill does not require that the governmental entity consider accessibility of the information to the public or protection of public health or welfare in making a determination under the provision,” the Fiscal Bureau’s report said. “Additionally, the bill does not specify the length of time for which documents posted to the Internet must be available, nor does it specify the format of the document or the manner in which the document would be sent by electronic mail or posted to the Internet.”

Another strong argument to remove the public notice language from the budget is that it is a “policy” proposal, not a budgetary matter. The Joint Committee on Finance routinely removes policy language from budgets prior to statewide listening sessions.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance has also scheduled six public hearings around the state on the proposed budget. WNA members should encourage readers to attend the hearings to speak out against the proposed changes to public notices.

The public hearings will be held:

  • Monday, April 3: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Ullsvick Hall, 30 S. Hickory St., Platteville.
  • Wednesday, April 5: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., State Fair Park Exposition Center, 8200 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis.
  • Friday, April 7: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Berlin High School Auditorium, 222 Memorial Drive, Berlin.
  • Tuesday, April 18: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Spooner High School Auditorium, 801 County Highway A, Spooner.
  • Wednesday, April 19: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ellsworth High School Gymnasium, 323 W. Hillcrest St., Ellsworth.
  • Friday, April 21: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Marinette High School Auditorium, 2135 Pierce Ave., Marinette.

No new action has occurred on a separate proposal in the Senate and the Assembly that would eliminate publication requirements for local government meeting proceedings. Public hearings were held for companion bills AB70 and SB42 on March 8 and March 14, respectively, where representatives from the newspaper industry testified in opposition to both bills.

To date, neither bill has been scheduled for a committee vote.

New ads available to oppose budget bill

The WNA has created new print and online ads to oppose the public notice provisions in the governor's budget. Members are encouraged to customize the ads with their newspaper's logo and to publish the ads as often as possible beginning now and throughout April as the public hearings are held on the state budget.

Download the new ads

WCIJ studying 'news deserts'

Mia Sato, a public engagement and marketing assistant at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, is working on a project to identify "news deserts" in the state and to find ways to improve coverage in those areas.

"News deserts are geographical areas or socioeconomic groups that are parched of fresh, important local news, whether it’s a result of the shuttering of neighborhood newspapers, downsizing and the limited resources of news outlets or a lack of coverage of particular topics," Sato wrote in a story seeking assistance for the project.

The goal of the project is to learn how people are getting their news and where there are coverage gaps in the state.

"We want to begin to strategize how information access can be improved," Sato said. "By the time the first stage of this project ends in September, we will have identified two Wisconsin news deserts and begun work on a plan to work with news organizations and others to improve the public’s access to information."

Read more ...


Editor's book is making headlines

Middleton Times-Tribune Editor Matt Geiger's new book, "The Geiger Counter: Raised by Wolves and Other Stories," grabbed the attention of the Pioneer Press in the Twin Cities last week. Writer Mary Ann Grossmann said Geiger's book "will make you laugh and maybe nod in agreement when he occasionally gets serious."

The book, released in late 2016, is a collection of stories about Geiger's childhood, becoming a parent and more, many of which first appeared in his "Geiger Counter" newspaper column.

Read the book review

Learn more about The Geiger Counter

Burnett County Sentinel names new editor

Sean Devlin has joined the Burnett County Sentinel in Grantsburg as the paper's new editor. Devlin is a Philadelphia native who studied English and played ice hockey at Northland College in Ashland. He studied in Limerick, Ireland, to earn a Master of Arts degree in creative writing. He returns to the Northwoods after living in Madison.

Read more ...

Matz to lead Reedsburg Independent

Reedsburg resident Troy Matz will take over as the editor of the Reedsburg Independent, replacing Jeff Seering, who retired after working in the newspaper business for 37 years.

Matz grew up in Middleton and is a 1983 graduate of Middleton High School. He attended the Trans-American School of Broadcasting in Wausau.

Matz worked part-time at WSEY Radio in Sauk City before coming to Reedsburg, where he was employed at WRDB-WNFM-WBDL Radio for more than 21 years. From there, he spent six years at WRPQ Radio/TV in Baraboo and nearly three years at WRJC Radio in Mauston.

WISC-TV salutes State Journal's Hesselberg

Neil Heinen, editorial director at WISC-TV/Channel 3 in Madison, paid tribute to longtime Wisconsin State Journal reporter and columnist George Hesselberg in an on-air editorial last week.

Hesselberg retired from the State Journal in late February after more than four decades with the newspaper.

"(This) is simply a note of gratitude to George Hesselberg for 42 years of stories about this city and its people in the Wisconsin State Journal, and his one of a kind humor, warmth, skill and honesty as a reporter and a colleague," Heinen said. "Reading him was a delight. Running into him covering a story was even better. The news in Madison isn't the same without him."

Watch the video and read the editorial

Chilton Times Journal ceases publication

The editor of the weekly Chilton Times Journal announced on the newspaper's website on Tuesday that the paper had ceased publication. Ben Rodgers, in a heartfelt column titled "The End of a Newspaper," said the Times Journal was no longer profitable.

The Tri-County News in nearby Kiel reports the Times Journal's last issue was published March 16. The Tri-County News, which serves the Chilton area, will be mailed as a courtesy to Times Journal subscribers on a short-term basis.

Read more ...

ATTENTION WISCONSIN JOURNALISM STUDENTS AND ADVISERS: Is there an Online Media Campus webinar you’d like to take? The WNA Foundation will sponsor your registration! Contact Jana Shepherd at to register.

Communicating and Collaborating Across Generations - Thursday, April 20 | 1-2 p.m. Register

Digital Projects: Starting From Scratch - Wednesday, April 26 | 1-2 p.m. Register
As part of the WNA’s partnership with the Local Media Association, LMA offers special discounted rates on many benefits including webinars to our members. Webinars for association partner members are $29 each ($59 for non-members). Register for all LMA webinars at

Facebook Branded Content Posts: What You Need to Know! - Tuesday, April 11 | 2-2:45 p.m.

A Framework for Local Digital Media Sales - Thursday, April 13 | 2-2:30 p.m.

Video Success: What Comes After the Hard Part? - Thursday, April 20 | 2-2:30 p.m.

Giving the Perfect Dealer Presentation - Tuesday, April 27 | 2-2:30 p.m.
WNA members can take advantage of reduced registration rates for webinars on Kevin Slimp's Newspaper Academy online community, featuring some of the most highly sought after trainers and speakers in the newspaper industry. Register for all Newspaper Academy webinars at

Tim Smith: Staying Positive in a Negative World - Thursday, April 13 | 10 a.m.

Ed Henninger: Design Between the Ears - Thursday, April 27 | 10 a.m.

Kevin Slimp: InDesign - From Zero to Hero! The Basics and Much More - Thursday, April 27 | 1 p.m.

Tim Smith: Sales Webinar - Improving Communication Skills - Thursday, May 4 | 2 p.m.

Ed Henninger: News Design 101 - All Basics, No Bull - Thursday, May 25 | 10 a.m.

Ed Henninger: 10 Surefire Ways to Improve Newspaper Design - Thursday, June 1 | 10 a.m.

Tim Smith: Selling Print in a Digital World - Thursday, June 1 | 2 p.m.

Richard Hollow: 10 Legal Questions Newspapers Ask - Thursday, June 22 | 1 p.m.
  • FREE MEMBER CONTENT: Download the latest content from the Capitol Report, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Thinking About Health, Discover Wisconsin and WISTAX Facts.
  • CAREERS - BUY - SELL - TRADE: View the latest career opportunities, resumes and "for sale" listings. Available positions:
    • Summer Internship – Vilas County News-Review, Eagle River
    • Full-Time Advertising Sales/Marketing – Lodi Enterprise/Poynette Press
    • Weekly Newspaper Editor – Southern Lakes Newspapers, Delavan
    • Reporter – Waupaca County Post
    • Reporter – La Crosse Tribune
    • Editor – Winona Daily News, Minn.
    • Community Reporter/Page Designer/Photographer – Unified Newspaper Group, Verona
    • Editor – Advertising Community News and Times-Press, Seymour
    • Editor – Kenosha News
    • Summer Internship — Waushara Argus, Wautoma
    • FOR SALE: Small town community newspaper – The Marion Advertiser
  • SHARE YOUR NEWS: Staff changes, promotions, celebrations, milestones and success stories. We want to hear from you!
The Weekly Briefing is published Thursdays by the staff of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Created by and for Wisconsin’s newspapers, WNA exists to strengthen the newspaper industry, enhance public understanding of the role of newspapers, and protect basic freedoms of press, speech and the free flow of information.

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