Archive for the ‘Media->Local’ Category

Share your holidays in standard def

December 11th, 2008 No comments

NBC 15 decided to run a crawler asking you to “Share your holidays!” throughout their primetime shows tonight.  They dropped the shows down to standard definition, not HD, and cut off 1/3 of the screen in order to show the crawler.

The crawler was asking for donations, but this caused me to not want to donate.  I’m not anti-charity, I’m anti-messing with shows people want to watch.


Categories: Media->Local Tags:

Wisconsin State Journal does some navel gazing

June 25th, 2008 No comments

Drudge picked up a story about someone (Eric Sundquist) from Madison’s Plann Commision wanting to ban all drivethroughs in Madison.  Well, first Drudge said that was for all of Wisconsin, then backpeddled and changed to be for Madison only (even better right: Madison is crazy liberal and this proves it!).

In any case, the point of me writing about it is that the State Journal decided to do some navel-gazing and wrote their own article about how it was picked up by Drudge.  “Hey, look at us, we’re famous!” at its best.

Categories: Media->Local Tags:

Dueling headlines

February 15th, 2008 No comments

As if it’s not weird enough that the two local papers share a website, they now compete head to head in breaking news snow predictions.  Who’s going to win, the Capitol Times or Wisconsin State Journal?  No doubt numerous breaking snow estimates will follow in the coming days.  Good thing we have two papers to make guesses for us.

Categories: Media->Local Tags:

Were you expecting…

February 15th, 2008 No comments

an article about fining older people who are not capable of cleaning sidewalks on their own?  I was.  Too bad the author didn’t have the same idea, or a proofreader.  Why does WKOW bother putting this stuff on

With a title of “City fines elderly for not clearing sidewalks enough,” one would expect to hear about how an old bed-ridden person has received numerous fines for snowy sidewalks.  Instead, you get an article about “Nick” (no last name given) and his neighbors, with only a brief mention and a quote from his 78 year old neighbor.  The article is really about unclear definitions of what a clear sidewalk actually is.

The article has no byline – I wouldn’t claim credit for it either.  It redundantly uses a dollar sign and the word dollar: “$109 dollar”.  I have a feeling more of the story is in the video linked on the page.  But, since the video link is to tiny, and the image doesn’t link to the video as well, I’m thinking most people don’t even notice it.  Which means that the article’s text should really explain what’s going on, and it doesn’t. 

Categories: Media->Local Tags:


February 11th, 2008 No comments

Why must constantly have one breaking news item at the top of the page?  Remember the good ole days when only something truly big was considered breaking news?  Every time I visit I see the big red box and think “Oh no, did 9/11 happen again?” only to read the headline and realize that a record snow is to fall tonight or someething.  Is that truly breaking news or just a featured story?

Categories: Media->Local Tags:

MSN Today

January 13th, 2008 No comments

The State Journal decided to redo the design and layout of its sections this week.  I’m not much of a fan.  I didn’t see anything wrong with the old ones, but they were apparently too old looking or something.  Section A seems to be untouched.  Other than a small box above the nameplate pointing out something changed, I don’t see an article explaining the changes or why they happened.  In any case, the shot below shows the new design.

As you can see, the section headings received a colored band with a tiny white fringe at the bottom  (seemingly a printing mistake?) .  It’s eminiscent of USA Today more than anything, although USA Today is more creative with colors.  The WSJ has three sections in varying shades of green, while two other sections are shades of blue.  Apparently there’s a deal on blue ink this week?  A glance at Saturday’s paper shows that a red and orange section made it into the mix.

One odd thing is that any sections that were likely printed in advance (A&E, Adventure, Lifestyle) have serif fonts for the section titles, while anything printed last night (section A, Local, Forum) has a sans-serif font.  What the heck?  Are they trying to be inconsistent?  Next thing you know I’ll have customer service telling me a new feature of the paper is the ability to customize the fonts to my liking.

In addition to getting a color makeover, the first pages of the fluff sections seem to focus on one major story above the fold – some sections not even indicating the presence of another story on the top half (see the purple A&E section in the pic).  Only the more real news focused sections don’t have a massive image above the fold.  It also seems like the primary story for each section gets a different, sans-serif, font from the headlines of the other stories (which are in a serif font) as a kicker of sorts.

I’m not a big fan of the changes nor the inconsistency, but maybe that will change.

Categories: Media->Local Tags:

Can you hold office while in jail?

January 10th, 2008 No comments

That would be the question most readers ask when following the “Village Candidate Could Take Office in Jail” link on’s home page.  The problem, however, is that the article doesn’t answer that seemingly obvious question.  To no surprise, the article, which is uncredited, is written by WKOW.

Also not indicated are potential jail terms, the terms of his reelection, and when exactly his sentence might start in relation to when voting happens.

Perhaps I’m missing something reading the article.  Perhaps there’s something there that everyone else sees and I don’t.  Perhaps WKOW should stick to TV reporting and leave articles like this to the State Journal and Capital Times.  Am I wrong?

Categories: Media->Local Tags:


January 4th, 2008 No comments

I thought maybe my glasses were dirty this morning when I loaded  Turns out they weren’t and it was just that whoever does the site allowed an incredibly tiny picture to be used for the main image on the site.  Because of that, it had to be expanded to fit the big box on the home page and came out incredibly blurry.

If you squint just right you can make out a moutain with a well in front of it.  Or at least that’s what it looks like to me.  Click on the pic below to get an idea of what it looked like full-size on the homepage today.

Categories: Media->Local Tags:

“Directed study”

January 1st, 2008 No comments

The Capital Times ran a story today about UW athletes taking directed study courses, seemingly only to boost their GPA or maintain their 12 credit minimum.  I’m sure the whole situation is an under the table scam, but it’s nice to see some reporting like this.  Universities are for learning, not playing sports, right?

In any case, my problem is that the writer seems to think everyone knows what directed study is.  That can’t be the case, though, because she puts the term in quotes in the second paragraph, as if it’s a foreign phrase.  You’d expect the next sentence or paragraph to go on to explain exactly what directed study is, but no, that doesn’t happen.  You have to read through the entire article and infer what it means, guessing at the exact definition each time the words come up in a sentence.

No, I’m not lazy or dumb.  Yes, I can determine what the term means by the end of the article.  But, it seems to me like you’d want to point out a definition like that pretty early on to provide some context for the rest of the article.

Categories: Media->Local Tags:

Salty update

December 29th, 2007 No comments

Alerwoman Brenda Konkel was nice enough to comment on my post from last night about WKOW’s poor “story” about the salt shortage on  Specifically she posted an email from Al Schumacher, Madison streets superintendent, about the real story on the situation. 

Based on the email, we have 10,000 pounds of salt available for this winter, and have used about 5,800 pounds over seven snowfalls already.  In addition, Madison has another 10,000 pounds available if necessary.  To me, that says we have about 4 snowfalls worth of salt left with our “regular” supply, and another 10 or so left with the salt in reserve.

Another commenter posted what likely was the actual story should have linked to, which isn’t much better than the non-story from before.  Al Schumacher’s comments make it seem like the city recognizes they might run low on salt and that they are beign careful applying it, but it doesn’t seem like the panic WKOW is making it sound like.  Even better, Schumacher’s email outlines a 300 pounds of salt per lane-mile policy, while WKOW indicates that the policy is half that: 300 pounds per two lane-mile.

Also, good thing the WKOW starts out indicating a salt shortage in paragraph one, but waits to paragraph seven to let us know that we’re in no danger of running out of salt.

Perhaps they should stick to TV news and leave the online stuff to the State Journal.

Categories: Media->Local Tags: + WKOW = 0

December 28th, 2007 2 comments

A link on today pointed readers to what could have been an interesting story about a salt shortage during a record-setting snowfall period:

Curious, I followed the link.  Once there, I found it was a short story accompanied by a video.  I read the story first, expecting to find out more about the salt shortage.  Finding only a short blurb about the city being short on salt, I clicked the link to the video story by Sean Towle.

Don’t bother watching the video yourself.  Sean simply stands on a snowy corner and tells you three things: 1) it’s snowing 2) roads are slippery 3) plows are plowing.

What about the salt shortage you ask?  That’s the same question I still have.

It’d be great if somewhere they answered things like:

  • How short on salt are they?
  • Why are they short on salt?
  • What is being done to get more salt?
  • What is being done in the meantime due to the shortage?

Perhaps my expectations are too high.

Categories: Media->Local Tags:

Just the facts

January 13th, 2007 No comments

Thank you, Susan Lampert-Smith, for your oh so nostalgic, yet entirely factless column.

First, I didn’t know that the McDonald’s on Lake Street had closed. Did you? No, I don’t really miss it nor care overall that it closed, I just find it odd that it did. It was always full of college students and bums (both have similar budgets), so it seems odd that they would up and close.

When I heard about this, the first thing I asked was “Why?” That’s where this article comes into play. One sees it and thinks “Ah, good, this will answer all my questions.” It doesn’t. Some key things are missing from it that any good journalist would have answered. For instance:

  • Who owns that paritcular McDonald’s?
  • Why are they closing?

The second question only got a tiny bit of attention, with one line explaining it “Now the store is closing because remodeling the restaurant didn’t make financial sense. It is likely to be replaced with a post office.” Were they being forced to remodel by McDonald’s corporate office? Were things falling apart and spending money on fixing it wold break the bank? Where did one get the fact that it’s going to be replaced with a post office? Did she read that on some USPS blog?

Blah. I don’t really care so much about the McDonald’s closing. I don’t really care so much about the post office opening either. I do care enough to realize that when people walk past it they’re going to say “I didn’t know that closed. What happened?” With that article, I really don’t have a clue.

Categories: Media->Local, Uncategorized Tags: