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Journalistic Standards Seriously Slide At Isthmus Newspaper

April 7, 2016

The Isthmus newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin is a free publication–so I guess it can be reasoned one gets one what pays for.  Still it rankles me when the sensibilities of readers are not considered or when professionalism is not pursued on every page.

Readers were greeted with the s*** word on page four of the March 31st issue when a Donald Trump voter was quoted trying to explain his vote for the Republican candidate in the Wisconsin Primary.

But it was not until I reached page eight that I flung the paper to the floor in utter disgust.  In an article titled A Party Divided the quote from Patty Jacobson of Pardeeville regarding Hillary Clinton was simply out of bounds.

“She’s a f****** corporate whore”.

One can pity the lack of Jacobson’s ability to articulate her concerns for a candidate in terms that would be appropriate for a reporter to hear–or the citizenry to read.  Mark it up to lack of breeding or education, but clearly she is not the fresh endearing face of the Bernie Sanders campaign.  The tone of her comment makes her seem bitter and lacking any refinement.  If one can not craft a comment without resorting to foul language perhaps one really has nothing of substance to say!

Which then places Isthmus front and center for printing the appalling remark.  It was not professional on the part of the newspaper, and clearly did not meet journalistic standards.  The remark did not convey news or impart information that could not have been framed in some other manner.  It was simply a newspaper trying to stay hip with a demographic who does not care to turn a printed page.

Journalistic standards should not seem remote and odd to some of those who now work at the Isthmus.  Those are the standards the majority of adults who read newspapers were raised with,  and the standards that we still desire in the papers we open for information.

The truth is there is no reason to pick up the Isthmus.  Each week The Capital Times magazine type insert in my Wisconsin State Journal allows me exceptional coverage and views from the liberal perspective.  It is done with professionalism and journalistic integrity.  I need not be concerned that some profane remark is going to be trotted out in the guise of news.

This week at the grocery store I will not pick up the Isthmus.  Nor the next, nor the next…..

I simply demand to be treated with more respect as a news consumer.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2016 11:52 AM

    Again, Tom, you are wildly off the mark.

    My thoughts on journalistic standards and word usage are well known. To suggest that my post was placed here over the words being used against Hillary Clinton says much more about how you think rather than I how I operate. January 2012 makes my point.

    As to your party and one of the candidates cheating on his wife—I repeat–there is no way the legal team at that publication would allow for the story to be printed without sourcing and a way to confirm. I can understand how embarrassing it is for the GOP–but there will be more to the story. And it will be commented on at CP.

  2. tom permalink
    April 8, 2016 10:30 AM

    While the Isthmus was never a paper worth reading, I not shocked by this. I’m shocked that you are so concerned and all crocodile tears over it. When you are passing off stories from the National Enquirer about obviously fabricated sex scandals, are you really that concerned about “journalistic standards?” I doubt it. You’re most likely just mad its about H.C.

    Practice what you preach.

  3. April 7, 2016 3:51 PM

    There are times when writing I wonder who else feels as I do. While we are not alone in our thinking too few express it–or have the venue to make thoughts known. So, thanks for giving me feedback.

  4. April 7, 2016 3:01 PM

    Until I read your thoughtful comments, I thought I was the only one disappointed by Isthmus under its new ownership. I fully recognize at my age, Isthmus is not looking for my particular demographic. But there used to be multiple articles worth reading along with thoughtful commentary and strong arts reporting. More and more, the give-away Isthmus is a shadow of what it used to be. And like you, I am grateful for The Capital Times’ strong reporting — and for Dave Zweifel’s strong, thoughtful commentaries. Compared to similar publications in other cities (Minneapolis and Milwaukee come to mind), Isthmus doesn’t come off as the must-read it USED to be.

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