The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is ending its Racine section that ran in Sunday papers.
The paper confirmed the move this week. The last section is apparently scheduled to run next Sunday.
While great news for The Journal Times, which was running scared from the J-S for years, it's a sad blow for news in our community. It means less coverage, less exposure and less competition for our entrenched daily at a time when it needs more competition to get its act together.
The end of the Racine section puts a period on the J-S's ambitious plans to take over Racine County. At one time, the Milwaukee paper was considering a daily Racine section with a staff in its Sturtevant bureau comparable to the JT's. There were actually days when the J-S had more reporters on the ground than Racine's paper, which was leaving positions dark to try and meet Lee Enterprises' budget figures.
The heyday of the Racine section came around 2001 and 2002, when Tom Kertscher was the lead reporter in the office. He consistently pounded the JT with great reporting, and left the JT veteran scratching their heads on how he got his stories.
Here's a story as to why we need competition. Back around 2002, the JT's ace reporter found out a police officer was caught by the Police and Fire Commission (literally caught with their own eyes) sleeping in his car. The reporter found out about the story, but didn't write about it because he was friends with people in the department and didn't want to upset people.
After a couple of weeks, the J-S got word and ran the story, which went national. The JT ended up looking foolish.
Competition in the news business insures against cozy relationships affecting coverage. Racine has less competition now, which means the JT has less to worry about. That's not a good thing.