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Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Weekly Briefing

Thursday, March 9, 2017
From left, Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison; Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison; and Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, listen to testimony from WNA Executive Director Beth Bennett during a public hearing on Assembly Bill 70. – James Debilzen photo

WNA opposes AB70 at public hearing

Representatives from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association on Wednesday testified before the state Assembly Committee on Local Government to oppose a bill that would do away with the newspaper publication of local government meeting minutes. 

Assembly Bill 70 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 42, would give school boards, city councils, village boards, county boards and technical college boards the option to post meeting minutes and proceedings on their own websites to fulfill publication requirements instead of printing them in a local newspaper, which is currently required by state law.

Beth Bennett, executive director of the WNA; Robb Grindstaff, general manager of Hometown News Limited Partnership and W.D. Hoard & Sons Publishing in Fort Atkinson; and Andrew Johnson, publisher of the Dodge County Pionier in Mayville, all testified against the bill. WNA President John Ingebritsen, publisher of Morris Newspapers based in Lancaster, attended the hearing and registered his opposition with the committee.

Read more ...

What our members are saying about AB70:

Sunshine Week starts Sunday

WNA members are encouraged to participate in Sunshine Week, an annual nationwide initiative to promote open government. Sunshine Week runs March 12-18.

The goal of Sunshine Week is to spark a nationwide discussion about the critical importance of access to public information. The initiative is sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Newspapers can promote Sunshine Week by publishing stories, editorials, columns, cartoons and graphics highlighting government openness. ASNE and RCFP have made several items available in an online toolkit.

Read more ...

Related: Gov. Walker proclaims Sunshine Week, pushes for more public access

Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order Thursday to promote openness and transparency in state government. Walker issued Executive Order #235 ahead of Sunshine Week, which runs from March 12-18.

The executive order directs all state agencies to increase access to public records by identifying areas where the public consistently seeks certain records and to formulate a plan making those records publicly available without a records request.

Agency Performance Dashboards will also be expanded to include public records metrics tracking how many public records requests each state agency receives, as well as the average time to fulfill a request.

Read more ...

Andy Hall, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, thanks the WNA for its sponsorship during the 2016 Wisconsin Watchdog Awards. – File photo

WNA sponsoring Wis. Watchdog Awards

The Wisconsin Newspaper Association board of directors has approved a $10,000 sponsorship of the seventh annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards, double the largest previous support of the annual celebration of open government and investigative reporting.

The event, to be held March 30 in Madison, includes a ceremony to honor the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award, retired Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Gilman Halsted, who produced award-winning examinations of the state’s criminal justice system.

The Wisconsin Watchdog Awards event also will honor recipients of the Freedom of Information Council’s annual Openness Awards, or Opees, for their work promoting open government.

The Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award is presented jointly by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and three additional organizations that joined the selection committee for the first time — the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Read more ...

WFOIC announces Opee winners

Two citizens, two journalists, one fired government worker and one small but gutsy Wisconsin newspaper are among the recipients of the 2016-17 Openness Awards, or Opees, bestowed annually by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

The awards, announced in advance of national Sunshine Week, March 12-18, recognize extraordinary achievement in the cause of open government. This is the 11th consecutive year that awards have been given.

The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is a nonpartisan group that seeks to promote open government. It consists of about two dozen members representing media and other public interests. Sponsoring organizations include the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, Wisconsin Associated Press, Wisconsin News Photographers and the Madison Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. 

The winners will be invited to receive their awards at the seventh annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards Dinner in Madison on Thursday, March 30. The event is presented jointly by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The winners are:

  • Citizen Openness Award (“Copee”): Tie: John Krueger, Lance Fena
  • Media Openness Award (“Mopee”): New Richmond News
  • Political Openness Award (“Popee”): Cory Mason
  • Open Records Scoop of the Year: Tie: Katelyn Ferral, Patrick Marley
  • Whistleblower of the Year (“Whoopee”): Ronald Klym
  • No Friend of Openness (“Nopee”): The Wisconsin Department of Corrections 
Learn more about the award winners in the latest "Your Right to Know" column.

'Open Government Traveling Show' lands in Milwaukee on Wednesday

The Milwaukee Press Club will host the Open Government Traveling Show – a panel discussion about the Wisconsin open meetings and open records laws – at a Newsmaker Luncheon on Wednesday, March 15 as part of “Sunshine Week.”

The public is invited to attend the event from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Newsroom Pub in downtown Milwaukee at 137 E. Wells St. Register on the Milwaukee Press Club website.

The Open Government Traveling Show is presented by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and the Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. It features a brief tutorial on the state’s open meetings and records laws and examples of how the media, the public and advocates use the law. Read more ...

'Truth, Trust & The Future of Journalism' focus of Ethics Conference 2017

UW-Madison's Center for Journalism Ethics will bring together top journalists, academics and advocates for the 2017 Ethics Conference to examine historically low levels of trust in news media and how to ensure a free, courageous and responsible press in times of extreme partisanship. The conference will be held March 31 at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and will feature Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan as keynote speaker. Registration is free and open to the public. Read more ...

Entries sought for student First Amendment contest

The Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is accepting applications for its high school and college publication contest promoting the First Amendment. The John Patrick Hunter First Amendment Award seeks opinion or editorial columns on the subject as well as stories reflecting current issues surrounding the First Amendment on college campuses and in high schools. Read more ...

Vietnam veterans special section materials still available

During the recent WNA Convention & Trade Show, several members expressed an interest in publishing the "Wisconsin Faces" Vietnam Veterans Memorial special section, which was produced by the Dodge County Pionier in Mayville and offered to WNA members prior to Memorial Day in 2016. The section is the culmination of a two-year effort by Wisconsin newspapers to find missing photos of fallen soldiers who are listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Details about the special section and instructions to download files can be found here.

Students seek journalist input for survey

Graduate students at San Diego State University's School of Journalism & Media Studies are seeking participants for a short, anonymous survey to explore the relationship between journalists and public relations professionals. The findings will be presented at San Diego State University on April 26 and will be submitted for publication. No personally identifying information is recorded in the survey. Read more ...

Reminder: WNA offering new political column

The WNA is partnering with to offer a new weekly political column for use by member newspapers. The " Capitol Report" will feature news and analysis on statewide government and political issues. is a nonpartisan, Madison-based news service that was established in 2000. Its president, Jeff Mayers, is a former editor and reporter for the Associated Press and a former political writer for the Wisconsin State Journal.

Like Matt Pommer's "State Capitol Newsletter," the new political column will be made available weekly on the "Free Content for Members" page on the WNA website.

Kevin Slimp coming to Madison

WNA members are invited to participate in a one-day training event on March 30 with newspaper technology consultant Kevin Slimp in Madison.

The "Newspaper Academy for Production Professionals" is being hosted by Wisconsin Community Papers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 30 at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites, 5117 East Terrace Drive, Madison.

The event is broken into a morning session and an afternoon session. The cost is $60 for a single session or $79 for both sessions. All sessions include lunch.

Register online
Download a registration form

About Kevin Slimp and hotel information


Stanley, Fitzhenry get new leadership roles with Gannett

USA TODAY NETWORK promoted two editors Friday and announced a new regional structure for Wisconsin.

Jim Fitzhenry was promoted to vice president of news and executive editor for the company's 10 daily newsrooms in central and northeastern Wisconsin and George Stanley, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was named regional editor for the state.

Stanley, 59, has been editor of the Journal Sentinel since early 2015. He has been with the Journal Sentinel since 1989, when he was hired as a reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinel. He was promoted to business editor in 1993 and moved up to managing editor of the combined Journal Sentinel in 1997.

Fitzhenry, 48, had been the interim vice president of news for 10 Gannett daily newspapers in Wisconsin since December. He served as the network’s business development director and had previously been editor of the Oshkosh Northwestern, where he spent 20 years as a reporter and editor.

Stanley will remain editor of the Journal Sentinel in addition to his expanded regional duties. Read more ...

Jim Fitzhenry

George Stanley

Seering retiring in Reedsburg

Reedsburg Independent editor and former co-publisher Jeff Seering is retiring, effective March 14. A native of Reedsburg, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977 with a journalism degree. His community journalism career has been unique in that he has been editor for three different Reedsburg newspapers and helped found two of them. 

He completed nearly 37 years as both news and sports editor in Reedsburg, covering major crimes such as the fatal shooting of the Weston School principal in 2006: city, school and county board meetings, as well as covering Reedsburg and Weston sports. 

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.

Engaging Readers Through Your Editorial Page - Thursday, March 23 | 1-2 p.m. Register

Communicating and Collaborating Across Generations - Thursday, April 20 | 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

Why Can’t We Find Sellers? - Tuesday, March 14 | 2-2:30 p.m.

Dual Transformation: What is the Prediction for ‘Transformation A’? - Tuesday, March 21 | 2-2:45 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

Kevin Slimp: Tips to Design Better Pages - Thursday, March 23 | 2 p.m.

Tim Smith: Staying Positive in a Negative World - Thursday, April 13 | 10 a.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:
    • 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
    • Advertising Account Rep – Watertown Daily Times
    • Reporter – Ozaukee Press
    • Assistant Editor — The Ladysmith News
    • News Reporter/Deputy Editor — City Pages, Wausau
    • 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.

Have news you want to share in The Weekly Briefing? Contact James Debilzen at 608-283-7623 or
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