Friday, August 15, 2014
Just In Case You're New To Janesville
If you're a steady reader here you probably know that I need to update some of my featured stories about local politics, the Janesville Gazette media conglomerate and local economic development. Although those subjects are intricately weaved together in Janesville and deserve book form, I'll try to stay on just one subject for the purpose of this post - The Janesville Gazette.
To begin, people should understand that the Janesville Gazette IS the story in Janesville and outside of this blog, you rarely read stories about them. With the Gazette, the story is always about you ...and what's YOUR story?
The newspaper also tells a variety of stories about Janesville and certain groups, but only through carefully adjusted and filtered lenses that for the most part are designed to prompt action or change public opinion or solidify the status quo. Of course it's important to realize they probably couldn't tell the whole truth about themselves either without it being constructed as propaganda or a commercial ad.
So over the years I've tried to tell their story, for all it's worth.
For starters, the Gazette generally does not like citizen activism. Particularly citizen activism that is independent from the establishment system. They view those folks as malcontents, rabble-rousers, rogues or just simply delusional. Much like they view me. Heh, heh ...heh.
Enter K. Andreah Briarmoon.
I generally keep my opposition quiet about citizen activism in Janesville mainly because true independent citizen activism (without grants or big $$$ backers) is, in this day and age of civic disconnect, disgruntlement and dysfunction, something to behold and defend regardless of the issue. That doesn't mean I support every local activist's cause.
But what I do respect and value is their direct participation and their passion, even if I vehemently disagree with their position or their tactics. That includes genuine tea party activism, providing it's not the big $$$ astro-turf variety that has co-opted the movement. Some of my friends might disagree with me, but I think genuine ...and I mean genuine, tea party advocates deserve a chair at the table.
That's one of the reasons why I don't mix it up or get in the way of local folks like Briarmoon, Bill McCoy or others who are doing it their way to instill change, for good or bad. Unless I became a target of an attack, then I would certainly not hesitate to defend myself. But that's not the case at all. I do confess however, outside of her relentless city hall activism which I respect, and the fact that I agree with her about reconstituting alderman wards and mayoral leadership AND opening local government, there is very little common ground on other issues between us. That includes her unorthodox style and peculiar way of reaching out, and besides, who am I to judge? Personal attacks are also something I avoid in my blogging.
But what I believe is most important is that a citizen's activism, no matter how small the cause or zany it may appear to some folks, should be allowed to rise or fall by its own volition - and not have a local heavyweight force such as the Janesville Gazette take control of the message to deliberately steer it into the ground.
That is precisely what the Gazette attempted to do in their latest article and most recent editorial on Briarmoon. It's one thing to inform the public and offer an opinion. It's an entirely different thing to take up arms (ink) not only to destabilize a campaign, but in direct opposition to the activism. You become worse than the activist you're wrongly trying to stop.
But that's nothing new from the Gazette. Because after trashing Briarmoon in their editorial "history lesson" for Janesville newbies, the Gazette tells Briarmoon's supporters that rather than supporting her efforts, why not support candidates for office who have the same objections ...or run for office yourself? But if you did that and won a seat on the council, this is what you should expect from the newspaper if you raise that objection.
But gee whiz. When it comes to politics or citizen activism then, why organize at all - ever? Why does Forward Janesville exist? Rock county 5.0? The UAW? Or neighborhood and block watch groups? The list can go on and on.
Of course there's a lot more wrong with the Gazette than this particular cheap-shot editorial against a citizen activist. Just consider some of the newspaper's own history beginning with what they did to former Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach.
⚥ You might recall it was a campaign of truly pathetic attacks that included sharply pointed criticism from county board members and bizarre stories from the newspaper's "we the people" blogger attacking the coroner because she dared to challenge signatures on her opponent's candidacy petition - an opponent who can best be described as a fake candidate.
⚥ This newspaper nearly destroyed Keach with the publishing of personal destruction and hate over petty if not unfounded allegations of political campaign violations. While today they completely ignore far worse allegations including documented proof detailing Scott Walker's full-fledged political campaign "war room" on the taxpayers dime when he was MKE county executive, and installing secret routers to circumvent open records laws.
⚥ This newspaper and their minions went on a vein-popping rampage, even suggesting Wisconsin's open primary system should be completely dismantled, honest to God ... after their endorsed fake candidate for coroner lost in the primary election to the incumbent Keach.
⚥ And, how the Gazette's editors went into the gutter to smear Keach's father by denigrating his honorable military service because his only fault was to defend his daughter from the newspaper's onslaught of cheap shots.
⚥ How they kept Janesville taxpayers in the dark on school enrollment figures and other issues that could have effected voter's perception of the $70.8 million school expansion referendum.
⚥ This newspaper targeted two candidates for Janesville city council simply because they had support from a local labor union. So much for encouraging citizens to participate in local government.
⚥ This newspaper censored local letter writers statements with politifact editorials, yet willingly publishes completely false and malicious statements anonymously in their Sound Off columns.
⚥ This newspaper and their supporting cast of political operatives went nuclear in their attack on the democratic party for daring to question Joe Knilans' and keep him accountable to statements he made about his residency during his campaign.
⚥ And, how they "correct" letter writer's criticism and view points on Rep. Paul Ryan with propaganda statements taken directly from his congressional Webpage.
⚥ Or, how they attacked an area videographer simply because he had the gumption to produce a documentary that by chance exposed the duplicity of local economic development groups and area legislators. The Gazette claimed he owed them the favor of burying the information because they granted him access.
⚥ How they rejected Sen. Russ Feingold because they claimed he lacked visibility when General Motors was rolling out of Janesville - but endorse homeboy Paul Ryan who not only is the district's in-absentia congressman, but whose positions and votes have indirectly dealt the final blows to the once robust automotive manufacturing sector of our district.
⚥ How the Gazette went ballistic when they thought the Janesville school board was operating in secrecy, but make no mention today of Gov. Scott Walker's refusal to answer a mountain of questions, the nameless donors paying his legal defense bills, his hidden travel (past) records, or covering up transactions and names of businesses collecting taxpayer awards through his WEDC agency. But just try to redact a citizens' name from a parking ticket and the newspaper will go all bazooka on you.
⚥ How the Gazette issues heavy-handed editorials and articles against skate boarders seeking a location in Palmer Park or against a small pocket of home owners trying to keep an alcohol-serving business with an outdoor sport's activity out of their neighborhood.
⚥ How they in the past, sold out their opinion page to Hobby Lobby full page ads.
⚥ This newspaper attempted to divide and conquer residents and isolate a Janesville city council member when he suggested it might be in the city's best interests changing to an alderman form of government. The paper responded by insulting the intelligence of those who felt underserved by the city's at-large system of council government and attempted to fuel deeper community animosity by stating current and past city leaders should be offended by anyone who suggests they don't care about all of Janesville's neighborhoods.
⚥ Or, when they employed a right-wing radio clown who repeatedly referred to users of Janesville's bike paths as communists when he was being polite.
⚥ And, how they fail to take their own advice they so authoritatively dish out to others.
I would think that media observers and concerned locals who have been following this page know that I'm barely scratching the surface here on the Janesville Gazette. This blog, just so you know, has a fairly extensive record of their shenanigans dating back to 2006, so feel free to use the search box in the upper left-hand corner. There's a ton of stuff here.
But don't get me wrong, folks. The people running the Janesville Gazette have the right to do as they darn well please - afterall it's their product and they own it. They're also fully entitled to take any position or offer any opinion, just like everyone else. I'd be among the first to defend their right to do so.
But keep this in mind if you're new to Janesville. The Gazette's opinions are really not opinions, it's a campaign.
RNR - After 160 Years Of Republican Publishing, Isn't It Time For a Change?
Posted by Lou Kaye at 12:01 AM