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Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Weekly Briefing

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Joint Finance Committee removes public notice language from state budget

WNA Members:

The Joint Finance Committee has removed from the proposed budget language that would have eliminated many public notices from newspapers.

The Joint Finance Committee also removed the provision from the budget that would have eliminated the public notice of timber sales.

My sincerest thanks to each of you for your hard work on this effort; and for your  support of the WNA’s effort to protect and preserve public notice publication in Wisconsin newspapers.  

The language removing the newspaper provision can be found on Page 3 of the attached Joint Finance Committee memo – it is the first item under “Administration” and “General Agency Provisions.” The timber sales provision can be found on Page 4.

There are many members of the legislature that must be thanked for their support of the newspaper industry.  

The WNA encourages each of you to thank your state representatives as soon as possible.

Our readers should also be thanked for the hundreds of calls that were placed into legislative offices over the past several weeks – reader support made a big impact on the success of our effort to preserve public notice.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Very Sincerely,

Beth Bennett
Executive Director
Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Pictured clockwise, beginning with the top photo, at the March 30 Wisconsin Watchdog Awards dinner: Charley Preusser, editor of the Crawford County Independent and Kickapoo Scout in Gays Mills, chats with Nick Heynan, online editor for the Wisconsin State Journal; SPJ-Madison President Mark Pitsch sports an "Opposition Party" T-shirt; Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Executive Director Andy Hall speaks during a watchdog journalism workshop prior to the Wisconsin Watchdog Awards dinner; The WNA received a plaque in appreciation of its lead sponsorship of the Watchdog Awards; WCIJ Managing Editor Dee Hall and attorney Bob Dreps address students at the watchdog journalism workshop. – Photos by Jentri Colello for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Salute to Wisconsin's watchdogs

The 2017 Wisconsin Watchdog Awards had a record number of guests during the seventh annual celebration of open government and investigative reporting.

The event – sponsored by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association – was held March 30 in Madison and drew 144 attendees. Prior to the awards dinner, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism hosted a "Watchdog 101 Workshop" for students and early career professional journalists.

The Wisconsin Watchdog Awards dinner was presented jointly by WCIJ, the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Last chance to order duplicate plaques, certificates

Did you win a 2016 Better Newspaper Contest award and need a duplicate plaque or certificate? The deadline to order is Friday, April 7. 

Certificates are $6 and plaques are $60. Shipping & handling is included. 

Order Now
SPJ Madison hosting training on ‘Secrets for Success in Science Journalism’

WNA offering two free registrations to members

The Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) will host "Secrets for Success in Science Journalism," a day-long training designed to offer journalists, science communicators, and students tips for producing accessible, accurate, and intriguing science stories. The conference, sponsored by the WNA, will be held Friday, April 21, on the UW-Madison campus.

The WNA is offering two free registrations for the event to WNA members on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, contact WNA Communications Director James Debilzen at or 608-283-7623.

Read more ...

WNA-backed effort to repeal personal property tax gaining traction

Co-sponsors are being sought for a bill in the state Legislature that would eliminate Wisconsin's personal property tax. The effort that has been pushed by a coalition of more than 30 trade and business associations, including the WNA.

LRB 2081 and 2548, authored by Rep. Bob Kulp, Rep. Dan Knodl, Sen. Duey Stroebel and Sen. David Craig, would eliminate the taxes on a business' "tangible" personal property, which is assessed and collected by local governments in addition to real estate property taxes. The personal property tax – established in 1849 – is viewed by many businesses as an enormous and inconsistent burden due to many changes and exemptions that were made to the law through the years.

The bill's authors have set an April 17 deadline for co-sponsors to sign onto the proposals. 

Read the proposed bill
Read the WNA's past coverage on the personal property tax

Hacked village website bolsters case to keep public notices in newspapers

When an anonymous hacker brought down the village of Elkhart Lake's website in March, The Plymouth Review highlighted the news as yet another reason why eliminating newspaper publication requirements for public notices is a bad idea.

"What if, for instance, there were notices on a government website that is hacked or crashes that are of a timely nature?" a March 29 editorial in The Review asks. "Would contracts have to be canceled or delayed? Would notice of changes to local laws or ordinances go into effect without anyone being aware of it? All of this and more is possible if public notices are only published online."

Read The Review's story about the hack
Read The Review's March 29 editorial

ICYMI: Campaign aims to #SupportRealNews

The News Media Alliance launched its "Support Real News" campaign on Wednesday. The campaign calls on the public to show their support for real news, provided by respected and trusted news organizations.

As part of the campagin, the group has made several print, digital, social and video resources available to news outlets to help raise awareness and promote the importance of real news. 

Johnson named Mayville Citizen of the Year

 Andrew Johnson – publisher of the Dodge County Pionier, president of the WNA Foundation and past president of the WNA Board of Directors – has been named 2017 Mayville Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.

Johnson and his family have made Mayville their home for nearly 29 years.

New editors named at Wisconsin State Farmer

 The Wisconsin State Farmer has some new editors at the helm.

Colleen Kottke, who has been associate editor for most of the past two years is now the editor of the Wisconsin State Farmer, succeeding Carla Gunst, who is stepping down to focus on her family and farm after 27 years as editor.

In addition, Carol Spaeth-Bauer, who has been reporting for 20 years, will take Kottke’s position as associate editor of the Wisconsin State Farmer, effective this week.

Read more ...


Michael Aubinger

Michael Aubinger, the owner, editor and publisher of The Press serving Ashwaubenon, Hobart and Howard-Suamico, died Thursday, March 30, 2017. He was 63.

The Press is an independent, weekly community newspaper that was founded by his mother, Lois Aubinger, in 1970. When his mother was publishing The Press, Aubinger worked as a journalist for the newspaper. He also started Prestige Printing, sold the business and started AM Communications, crafting and printing resumes. 

Aubinger served as president of the Village of Ashwaubenon since 2009 and had just announced a leave of absence to focus on his health. He had served on the Ashwaubenon School Board and was active in many community organizations.

He is survived by his wife, Annette.

Friends may call at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 2270 S. Oneida St., Green Bay, from 10-11 a.m. Friday, April 7. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Blaney Funeral Home is assisting the family. 

Read the full obituary


Your Right to Know: Walker's order on records is welcome

In this month's Your Right to Know column, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council Co-Vice President April Barker applauds Gov. Scott Walker's executive order for state agencies to improve their performance on fulfilling public records requests.

The column is available for publication for free.

Download the column
Download April Barker's photo

Ad-libs: Keep 'em talking and learn more

Advertising expert John Foust explores how to keep a customer engaged during an advertising presentation by looking below the surface. The more the customer talks, the more you learn. To keep them talking, it helps to use a minimum number of words, sometimes just one or two.

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 — Waushara Argus, Wautoma
    • 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
    • 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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