Why Can’t Waushara Argus Keep Publisher Employed?


My county paper, the Waushara Argus, has some serious problems.

Once again, and the second time in a year, the freshly hired publisher has pulled the plug and said goodbye.

The latest hopeful, who had started to make a few changes at the paper, Letty Acosta, resigned on July 24th.    Well-worn publisher Mary Kunasch who has simply never seemed desirous  to have a serious publication returned the following day with  a statement of how wonderful the lakes and streams were in Waushara County.

Seriously?  That was the best a publisher of a couple decades could come up with when the second replacement as publisher up and left after only a short time in the job!

God forbid Kunasch said anything sincere about the way a newspaper should look or read when held in the hands of actual subscribers.  But that has never been something I felt she was overly interested in achieving.  I am not trying to be too hard on her, but just simply responding as a reader of the paper.

After all these years she does have to take responsibility for the lack of quality with the content of the paper.

First and foremost there is no serious reporting at the Argus.  There are a whole host of issues that could be bored into but that might be controversial in small towns that dot the county.  But in the minds of those who run the paper that might also make some people uneasy.   Since the paper seems designed only to make money–and assuredly not that much–why make waves by actually reporting news and covering what people are talking about?

I might add that copying exactly the reports from the police department is not ‘newspapering’ when the identity from a fatal car crash is listed in the fifth paragraph as if it was an after-thought.  Copying press releases is not real reporting.  Having actually written news copy for a radio station for many years I admit to cringing each time I pick up the Argus and turn a page.    I wish it were not true, but sadly that is how it happens each week when the paper arrives in the mail.

The next problem the paper has is that there seems to be a mindset from on-again, off-again, and then back again publisher Mary Kunasch that simply filling the paper with a number photos designed to simply put locals ‘in the news’ is what the press should be all about in the county.

What a waste!

While I know the world of newspapering is a harder road to travel now than ever before there is no rationale that can spin away the wasted time that could have been spent doing solid reporting at this paper.  Surely there are some young bright folks who would love to be unleashed in the news room–but something tells me they would be reined in and told to conform to the way things were always done with the paper.

And I repeat, what a waste.

Anyone who reads this blog or knows me understands my love of newspapers that dates back to my boyhood in Hancock when the Stevens Point Journal  arrived each day in the mailbox.  That love continues with the morning thud now of the papers as they are tossed on the front stoop of our Madison home.  So it really pains me that my home county paper is such a bizarre collection of releases that get sent to the paper just to fill space.

I am not sure what the back story is about why publishers come and go with such speed at the Argus but it might be the culture of the paper is the main problem that needs addressing.

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