A city employee files suit against her bosses, alleges sexual harassment and makes an unsubstantiated attack on the mayor. The JT and WTMJ respond by breathlessly reporting the allegations three times (so far) without any supporting evidence - not even a second source to support the allegations. (WTMJ went so far as to send out its 'I-Team' for a hard-hitting interview with a city resident at the Laurel Clarke Fountain Downtown.)
Some anonymous readers have been leaving comments on the site ripping us for being ex-JT employees. That's fine, but it's not going to stop us from pointing out the profound and recurring lapses in judgment by our local paper. One thing I've learned since leaving 212 Fourth St. is the newspaper is actually hurting Racine.
Listen up JT editors and reporters - what you do matters. You shape opinions, define our community and sell the place we choose to live to outsiders. I know most of you don't care. You show up at 9 and leave at 4, never wandering further than Dunn Brothers to find out what's going on.
Worse, you believe tearing down our little corner of the world will somehow make your business more successful. But it hasn't worked - never has. Newspapers are dying because they don't give a damn about the places they supposedly represent. Trade the JT with the La Crosse Tribune with the Wisconsin State Journal with any mid-sized paper in the country and you'll get the same stories with different names, same cold-hearted cynicism of 'objectivity,' and same boorish servitude to stories a phone call away.
Nobody can break out of the cycle because it's the same grind, day in and day out. Any efforts to make even minor changes are crushed by deadlines, meetings, charts that show declining revenue lines approaching rising expense lines, mandatory HR trainings, the ongoing threat of layoffs and even more meetings.
Somewhere along the way the JT forgot they publish a daily newspaper. It sounds odd, but they're so insulated in their newsroom that they forget people are actually proud to live in this community and work every day to make it better. They also forget (assuming they ever knew) there are people in their stories with families and reputations can be destroyed by a headline. Milwaukee TV stations and wire services pick up the stories and run them assuming the original reports are accurate. It's a poor assumption.
To put it bluntly, the JT doesn't care. It doesn't care about Racine, Racine County, people, organizations or services. It spits out stories to wrap around ads to pay off a corporation's billion-dollar debt and their CEO's million-dollar salary. It doesn't matter if the story is any good (or even appropriate) - it just has to fill space by 5 p.m. so everyone can get home.
It's no way to run a newspaper. Sadly, no one at the JT will realize that until the day they leave.