Editor: 'Opportunistic conservatives' are behind WisconsinReporter.com

Madison Capital Times

Madison Capital Times editor emeritus Dave Zweifel recently noticed that stories from WisconsinReporter.com were showing up in weekly newspapers around the state. "What is this new wire service-like provider of news to local papers?" he asked. "Turns out it's a new service concocted by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a conservative nonprofit that has had its hands in the tea party movement and the pro-Scott Walker rallies." Launched in January, WisconsinReporter.com is "yet another endeavor by opportunistic conservatives to jump in to fill a void created by the economic woes of traditional media," writes Zweifel. "Media that want to use the stories can do so for free."

You have to take your hat off to conservatives for being creative in spreading their message and masking their true identity. Still, this effort represents yet another dangerous blow to the traditions of objective news reporting and, I’m afraid, the future of America’s democratic discourse.

A reader sends this email about Wisconsin Reporter:

I think it’d be best if I remained anonymous (as I now have a reporter job in the area), but I just wanted to forward this along to you…

I applied for the Wisconsin Reporter investigative and capitol bureau reporter positions late last year, when the site was launching. I thought something was off when they asked me to answer these policy-based questions (see below).

Seemed counterintuitive for a journalism job.

Subject: RE: Investigative and capitol bureau reporter positions

Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2010 09:06:53 -0400

Thanks, [name redacted].

The next step is for you to provide brief, 1-2 sentence answers to the following questions:

1. How do free markets help the poor? How do government programs help the poor?

2. How does government policy sometimes lead to unintended consequences?

3. Name a good education reform idea that Wisconsin should consider.

4. What is the best way to turn Wisconsin’s economy around?

5. Do higher taxes lead to balanced budgets?

Thanks and have a great week!

Claire Kittle

Executive Director

Talent Market

703.835.9933 office



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  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


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