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Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Weekly Briefing

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Colorful night out

Gabby Ruehle blows giant soap bubbles during the National Night Out event at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Kenosha on Tuesday. The county’s six National Night Out events, held around the city and in Twin Lakes, offer neighbors a chance to come together for fun, and to meet police, firefighters and others who help in the community. This photo by Brian Passino appeared on the front page of Wednesday's Kenosha News.

The WNA features work produced by Wisconsin's photojournalists in each issue of the Weekly Briefing. Have a photo you'd like to share? Email the photo, credit and cutline information to
Despite cancer fight, Marion publisher keeps working with community’s support

BY JAMES DEBILZEN | Communications Director

Dan Brandenburg is feeling pretty good these days.

The longtime owner and publisher of The Marion Advertiser said blood tests are improving as he continues to battle stomach cancer and he’s optimistic he’ll find a new owner for his family business by the end of the year.

Brandenburg has spent more than 50 years at the Advertiser and has owned the newspaper since 1985, which he runs with his wife, Patsy, and daughter, Angie. The Brandenburgs have built a legacy in the community, which has been evident from the outpouring of support they have received since it was discovered in February that Dan Brandenburg had cancer.

“We've always been positive about this whole thing,” Brandenburg said. “I never sat there and said, ‘Why me?’ I said, ‘OK, game on.’ We've got God as our primary physician and he's guiding us and our oncologist.”

The cards, letters and Facebook messages continue to flood Brandenburg’s desktop whenever he posts an update or writes a column about the latest on his health.

“The chemo has had some side effects, but the newspaper is my motivation,” he said. “Even if I’m tired and falling asleep or whatever, I know I’ve got to get the paper out for my customers and my readers. Of course, my family is my motivation, too. When I feel sorry for myself, they kick me right in the rear end and say to stay positive.”

On June 11, more than 2,000 came to a benefit event for Brandenburg. The benefit, held by the Marion Lions Club and other local service organizations, featured bake sales, raffles, auctions and live music. They raised “a lot of money,” Brandenburg said, which will be used to help pay for his health care.

“I guess when you're in business for as long as we've been … it's really humbling to know you made that many friends,” Brandenburg said. “As anybody in the newspaper business would know, you can get a lot of enemies, too, but our enemies are very few and our friends are a multitude of people that's from all walks of life.”

Brandenburg began working for The Marion Advertiser when he was in high school. The owner at the time, Francis “Brownie” Byers, who later became a Wisconsin Assemblyman, asked Brandenburg if he’d be interested in coming down on production night to “wrap singles,” which involved rolling up newspapers that were being mailed out of the state in pre-addressed wrappers. Brandenburg said he didn’t care for the work and didn’t plan to come back for a second week, but Byers convinced him to give it another try.

Brandenburg became a printer’s devil and helped melt lead, run the linotype and run the sheet-fed press. His mentor, pressman John Draeger, was killed in a car accident months later, and Brandenburg suddenly was thrust into the pressman role.

The paper was sold around the time Brandenburg graduated from high school and he began working for the Advertiser full time.

“I had offers to go elsewhere and make more money, but I just loved it here in Marion and I liked the small-town atmosphere,” he said.

Over the years, Brandenburg worked through the transition to offset printing and spent more time in the darkroom than he cares to remember. Today, he marvels at the ease of designing pages and editing photos digitally in a matter of moments.

“I’ve lived through three eras of printing,” Brandenburg said. “I can appreciate what we have now.”

Brandenburg is looking forward to finding the next generation to lead the Advertiser as he looks toward retirement.

“We created a legacy here putting out this newspaper our way and with our identity, and now somebody else is going to come in and obviously they’re going to make a few changes,” Brandenburg said. “… Whoever we sell it to, I hope they’re as community-minded or close as we are, and I’m sure they will be.”

Please consider supporting this proud WNA tradition

Dear WNA Members,

One of the more enjoyable conversations that I often have as the executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association involves the WNA Press Forest. 

Each time I have the opportunity to let someone know that the members of the WNA own a forest, I do.

I do this because I am proud of the investment made by WNA members over 60 years ago when they purchased the Press Forest; and proud of the current member commitment to maintain the Press Forest, the Memorial Pylon and the annual WNA Trees Retreat.

If you have never attended the Trees Retreat, you should consider doing so.  

If you have attended in the past, but haven’t been for awhile, you should come back.

The WNA Trees Retreat is a time to decompress among newspaper friends in a beautiful setting.

Please consider making the trip this year. We have an outstanding program waiting for you!

I look forward to spending time with each of you among the WNA's trees.


Beth Bennett
Executive Director

The Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation (WNAF) will honor the memory of five former publishers during an upcoming ceremony in Eagle River.

The WNAF’s memorial pylon ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 25 at Trees For Tomorrow – 519 Sheridan St., Eagle River – to pay tribute to Wisconsin publishers who have died. A welcome reception will begin at 11 a.m.

The 2017 honorees are:

  • Michael Aubinger, former publisher of The Press of Ashwaubenon, Hobart and Howard-Suamico
  • Betty Lou Dansin Stewart, former co-publisher of the Orfordville Journal and Footville News
  • Donald W. Bearder, former publisher of the Lake Geneva Regional News
  • Noel Zander, former co-owner of the Brillion News
  • Marius Page Jr., former general manager of the Baraboo News Republic

Read more

Meet Al Cross

This year’s Trees Retreat presenter is Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, extension professor of journalism at the University of Kentucky, a political columnist for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal and a former weekly newspaper editor and manager. 

Trees Retreat Schedule At a Glance
Thursday, Aug. 24
11 a.m. – Golf Outing: Support the WNA Foundation during our golf outing at the Eagle River Golf Course. The cost is $100 per person for 18 holes, cart included. 

Afternoon Arrivals – Register at Education Hall: After registering, explore the Trees For Tomorrow grounds, find your cabin or settle in to your hotel room.

6:30 p.m. – Join us for a Dutch-treat dinner at Eddie B’s White Spruce Restaurant & Tavern as we revive an old WNA tradition.

Friday, Aug. 25
Breakfast – On your own

9-10 a.m. – The Rural-Urban Divide & the Role of Newspapers

10-10:15 a.m. – Break

10:15-11:30 a.m. – Beyond the County Line

11-11:30 a.m. – Memorial Pylon Ceremony Reception

11:30 a.m. – Memorial Pylon Induction and Lunch

1:30-3 p.m. – New Challenges in Community Journalism

3-3:15 p.m. – Break

3:15-4:15 p.m. – Great Ideas Exchange: We’ll wrap up the training portion of the day with an hour-long “Ideas Exchange.” Bring your best editorial, advertising and marketing ideas for a chance to win prizes!

5:30 p.m. – Steak Fry in the WNA Foundation Press Forest
Download the Full Schedule
Register Online

Connect with other attendees & find out more! 

Golf Outing
Golf Outing
Trees Retreat
Trees Retreat
Hotel deadline for WBA/NPPA's photojournalism workshop is Friday

The hotel deadline for the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association's Madison Driving Short Course has been extended to Friday, Aug. 4.

WNA members can attend the visual storytelling workshop Aug. 18-19 in Madison for the reduced member rate of $50. The workshop is being held in partnership with the National Press Photographer's Association.

Hotel Information: Lowell Center Hotel, 610 Langdon St Madison, WI 53703. To reserve a room, call 608-256-2621 and mention group code "NPPA." Special rates of $105 a night for a standard room or $124 for a deluxe are available. 

See the Schedule & Register
New online open meetings tool available

An open meetings law educational video series created by the University of Wisconsin-Extension Local Government Center is now available in a new online format.

In 2012, the Local Government Center created an open meetings law instructional DVD, which was sent to every county UW-Extension office to be made available as part of their programming. The videos have now been uploaded to YouTube and can be accessed through the center's website.

Watch the Videos
State Bar hosting free reporters' legal workshop on Sept. 8

The State Bar of Wisconsin will hold a free reporters’ legal workshop for members of the Wisconsin media from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 at the State Bar, 5302 Eastpark Boulevard, Madison.
The workshop will feature new tools to help report on the criminal justice system; offer tips from veteran journalists, lawyers, and judges; give insight into open records and open meetings laws; and explore ongoing issues within Wisconsin’s justice system, including mass and disparate incarceration.
A full day of panels and presentations is planned on the following topics: 

  • Public Records: How to Get the Records You Need
  • Media Law: Defamation, Reporter Shield Law, Open Meetings, Open Records Rulings
  • Immigration Law and Policy Changes Under the New Administration
  • Question and Answer with seasoned legal affairs reporter Bruce Vielmetti of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Owning the Problem: Mass and Disparate Incarceration in Wisconsin
  • Evidence-Based Decision Making, Strategies to Improve the Criminal Justice System
  • New Tools in Criminal Justice Reporting
  • Gill v. Whitford, The Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Redistricting Case that Challenges the Constitutionality of Wisconsin’s Electoral Maps

A complete schedule for the day with more information on the presenters and panelists is available online. Breakfast and lunch will be provided courtesy of the State Bar, as well as free lodging nearby for Thursday, Sept. 7 for a limited number of early registrants who live at least two hours outside of the Madison area.
Questions?  Contact Kristen Durst, State Bar Public Relations Coordinator at 608-250-6025 or

See the Schedule & Register
Wideman joins The Country Today as regional editor

Veteran journalist Benjamin Wideman is the newest addition to The Country Today editorial team.

Wideman recently was hired as the eastern Wisconsin regional editor. The Neenah native has produced thousands of stories and photos during an award-winning 20-year journalism career. He has received more than 50 statewide accolades from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association for his writing, photography, page design and online projects, in addition to several other honors from other organizations.

After working on a farm during two summers while in high school, Wideman graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh before following in his father’s footsteps and embarking on a journalism career. He covered a wide array of topics over the years, including agriculture, news, business, features, sports and outdoors. He also served as a freelance writer for newspapers from New York to Los Angeles.

Wideman also spent the past few years working at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, first as the director of communications/​media relations and most recently as the athletics director for the college’s eight intercollegiate teams.

Read more

William J. Spevacek

William "Bill" J. Spevacek, a former reporter for the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, died Friday, July 21. He was 82.

Spevacek graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in journalism. He served as an infantry officer with the U.S. Marine Corps, a newspaper reporter in Wisconsin Rapids and a public information officer for the Wisconsin State Patrol. He spent more than 30 years as a public relations counselor, most with the Barkin, Herman public relations firm in Milwaukee.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Patricia, in 2016. He is survived by three children and six grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 2121 Rowley Ave., Madison. Visitation will be from 10:30 a.m. until the time of the Mass.

Read the obituary

Your Right to Know: Supreme Court openness rulings a mixed bag

In this month's "Your Right to Know" column, April Barker, co-vice president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, recaps the Wisconsin Supreme Court's latest session, which included rulings on several open government cases.

The column is available for publication at no cost.

Read more

Download the column
Download Barker's photo

Ad-libs: Disadvantages have their advantages

Do your sales representatives present both sides of the story to clients?

In this month's column, advertising strategist John Foust outlines a technique that packages presentations to show disadvantages along with advantages, creating an atmosphere for open, realistic conversations.

Read more

The Wisconsin Newspaper Association has partnered with various organizations to provide free content to members. If you have questions regarding the content below, please contact WNA Communications Director James Debilzen at 608-283-7623.
The Capitol Report

The Capitol Report features news and analysis on statewide government and political issues in Wisconsin. The column is available for free publication by WNA-member newspapers only.

Column for the Week of Aug. 7
Uncertainty driving up health care marketplace premiums

Discover Wisconsin

A weekly column written by the staff of Discover Wisconsin highlights things to do and see throughout the State of Wisconsin. The column is accompanied by photos for use in print and online. 

Column for the Week of Aug. 7
11 Hole-in-the-Wall Chicken Wing Joints in Wisconsin | Download Photo


Weekly facts from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, the state's oldest and most respected private government research organization. Since 1932, WISTAX has been promoting better government and an informed citizenry through its publications, public outreach, and extensive school programs.

Column for the Week of Aug. 7
Property Tax Limits Take Different Forms
Thinking About Health

"Thinking About Health" by Trudy Lieberman is a twice-monthly column available to any WNA member newspaper. The column is distributed to 17 state newspaper associations through the "Rural Health News Service" and is funded in part by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.

Column Released July 20
U.S. Healthcare Ranked Lower Than In Most Developed Nations


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.

Five Ways to Use Facebook Live (Plus a How-To) – Thursday, Aug. 17 | 1-2 p.m. Register

Automatic InDesign – Thursday, Aug. 24 | 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). See all LMA webinars at

Best New Digital Initiative  Tuesday, Aug. 10 | 2-2:30 p.m. Register

Why Buy Now?  Tuesday, Aug. 22 | 2-2:45 p.m. Register
  • 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:
    • Sports Editor – Wolf River Media, Shawano
    • Community Reporter/Page Designer/Photographer – Unified Newspaper Group, Verona
    • Sports/News Reporter – The Star News, Medford
    • Reporter – The Gazette, Janesville
    • Suburban Weekly Reporter – River Valley Media Group, La Crosse
    • Editor/Writer – The Courier Wedge, Durand
    • Reporter/Editor – Portage County Gazette, Stevens Point
    • Business Reporter – Wisconsin State Journal
    • Sales Representative – Baldwin Bulletin
    • Sections Editor – The Gazette, Janesville
    • News Reporter – The Le Mars (Iowa) Daily Sentinel
    • Sports Reporter/Assistant Editor – Daily Jefferson County Union, Fort Atkinson
    • Reporter – Monroe County Herald
    • FOR SALE: Small town community newspaper – The Marion Advertiser
    • FOR SALE: Printing equipment – Wisconsin Newspress, Plymouth 
    • FOR SALE: Weekly Newspaper – The Chilton Times Journal
  • 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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