Nailed ‘Em: Station Flaunts FCC in Pursuit of Partisan Politics

A lightly-edited version of this article was re-published on the Isthmus Daily Page.

The ongoing protests in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker’s plans to corporatize the state still resonate in Madison’s media environment. Unsurprisingly, the active involvement of unions in an issue that directly affects their future relevancy has been fodder galore for right-wing media pundits.

One of those pundits is Vicki McKenna, the host of some shrill demagoguery on Clear Channel-owned WIBA-AM, Madison’s bastion of reactionary talk radio. Last week, Vicki thought she had a sure thing in hand to punk organized labor – but it turns out she’s the one more likely to get stung. Read More

Being the Media: Covering Wisconsin’s Uprising

Last Thursday night, when I heard of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s plans to forcibly evict those who have occupied the state Capitol building for nearly two weeks, I couldn’t not go home.

I ended up in Madison not just to add my voice to the hundreds of thousands who rallied in protest last weekend of the corporatization of Wisconsin, but to help my friend at the Isthmus, Kristian Knutsen, who has nearly-singlehandedly held down the alt-weekly’s real-time online coverage of the massively fluid events.

It felt nice to put the journalistic shoes on again. During the threat of a “forcible evacuation” of the Capitol building on Sunday afternoon, I perched my netbook on the marble railing on the building’s second floor in the Rotunda and hunkered down, with thousands of my newly-found best friends. The police, who are working people, too, made no move and the Capitol remains occupied today. Read More

Wisconsin’s Insurrection Began in the Fourth Grade

I’ve tried for years to explain the seemingly inordinate amount of state pride I exude, and if you know a Wisconsinite you’ve probably come up against this at least once. Typically it’s brushed off as a superiority complex among inferior states (we’re “flyover country” and “the Rust Belt” to those on the coasts).

Now you know it’s more than that.

To learn the basics behind why Wisconsinites have occupied the state Capitol Building in Madison and return in the tens of thousands every day, visit the local media outlets who are helping to hold down the fort (the mainstream media has hopelessly painted this controversy into a frame of ignorance), or follow the Twitter feeds. Read More

Liberal Media Witch-Hunting in Wisconsin

Over the last couple of weeks friends in Madison have been forwarding me various correspondence between folks at the University of Wisconsin, the UW-Extension, the office of state representative Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), and the syndicated labor radio news service I helped create, the Workers Independent News Service (WIN(S)).

Rep. Nass, who is chair of the State Assembly’s Committee on Labor and also sits on various committees dealing with education issues and the UW System, apparently has a problem with WIN(S) and the fact that it reports business news from the perspective of working people. Read More

Pervasive Fake News Documented, FCC Shrugs

Yesterday the Center for Media and Democracy released Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed. It tracks the use of some three dozen video news releases (VNRs) by television stations across America.

The use of VNRs is serious business. Companies and other special interests pay PR flacks (usually former journalists) to essentially produce generic television reports, which are then freely fed to TV stations nationwide.

Television reporters and news directors like VNRs because they’re easy fodder with which to fill a newscast, meaning fewer reporters to pay and less work needed from everyone involved. Companies like VNRs because they get free commercials masquerading as journalism. Read More