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On Wisconsin, readers want to see more


The question from Bill Gibson echoed other readers' e-mails: Why does there seem to be so much coverage of the Middle East and so little on the protests in Wisconsin?

"There was another rally in Madison on March 5. I saw no item in The Times about it. Michael Moore made a speech. It was quite a rally. Why wasn't it mentioned?" Gibson asked. "Here is a 'local' uprising that may determine just what OUR country will be like."

An e-mail from Rob was similar: "Why are you barely covering this story? This is not just a Wisconsin issue; it's a war on families and the middle class, and your paper, among others, is failing to inform the public."

And Patty wrote: "You report on the unrest of the people in other countries. Why? Because their leaders have impoverished them, and they are fighting back. This country will also go down that road if this constant attack on the middle class continues and the middle class becomes beyond poor.... Americans like to know what is going on in AMERICA!"

The rallies in Wisconsin's capital began Feb. 16, when thousands gathered in Madison to protest Gov. Scott Walker's effort to restrict the bargaining process for most public employees. The Times posted a wire service article on the protest that evening on, and the story ran in the following morning's paper.

Since then, The Times has published 22 more news articles; four op-ed columns; and an editorial about the dispute, in which Democratic legislators have fled the state to avoid voting on the anti-union measure.

"We have been doing a lot of coverage in Wisconsin and intend to do much more," said The Times' national editor, Roger Smith.

Regarding filmmaker Michael Moore's speech, Smith said, "At this point in the overall story an individual rally may not clear the bar on news, even with celebrity speakers, if the message is the same one we've been hearing from previous rallies."

Egypt, Libya and Wisconsin all are important stories that will have effects beyond their borders. Readers can expect to see more coverage from Times reporters in the Middle East as well as in the Midwest.

Smith said, "We are watching the situation closely regarding the impasse between the governor and the Democrats in the state Senate and are eager to see what happens next."

-- Deirdre Edgar

Photo: Michael Moore speaks to a crowd in Madison, Wis., on March 5. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images


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Comments (15)

Greetings from Madison, WI. The protests are a daily occurence - there is a 24/7 protest going on, so I have some sympathy for media outlets. Last weekend was big, this weekend is predicted to far bigger. This protest movement is not going away, it is picking up a lot of energy from the frustrations of the middle class and working poor. Media likes to focus on unions, but it's really about social justice and economic fairness. The people of California are the best example in our country of what happens to working people when you have a radical redistribution of wealth. If you look at the portfolios of the wealthiest 1% of citizens, you will see it approximates your budget woes. That's where the money went. The unions don't have it, the poor don't have it, the immigrants don't have it, and certainly state government does not have it. Tax the uber-rich, recover our nation's wealth, and we can get our economic engine started. The Uber-rich aren't spending all that wealth on job creation - that's why they still have it! Arguments about 'trickle down' are outright lies.

You sir, sound exactly like a communist.

Jim Brown is right and GrandeAnde sounds like a tea-party no-nothing. Communism means that the government OWNS all businesses. Telling the truth about the wide income disparity in this country knows no political boundaries. And the truth is that the wealthiest people/corporations pay little or no income tax at all, while the vast majority of funds it takes to run any government comes from the fast-disappearing middle class. And more and more of them are slipping into poverty through no fault of their own. What will occur if nothing is done to stop this trend is call neo-feudalism. Only the very wealthy will own or control anything, while the rest of will be left with nothing. And that is the goal of the Republican party, so if you vote for them, you have nobody to blame but yourself if you end up a serf.

Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, was a union member. So does Sarah support the teachers in WI?
Todd Palin was a union member and belonged to the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (United Steelworkers).

I think it is time for the working middle class and poor to pool together and hit these Republican BULLIES right in their pocket books.

Each and everyone of us should withdraw any savings and extra funds they have (leaving only enough money to pay your debts).

It is your money that is funding big business and lining the pockets of these Republican Bullies. It is your money that they are using against you to take your rights away.

I hope that now, the people that were mislead by Republican liars will understand that this party is not a party for the people. They do not represent the middle class or poor. They are only for big business. The want to keep the rich, rich and the poor, poor.


Don't give them a piece of your pie! They have had enough.

RE: Coverage in your newspaper of the Michael Moore speech in Wisconsin

I read the "lame" article about readers criticizing lack of coverage of the Wisconsin protestors. Regarding the following statement:

Regarding filmmaker Michael Moore's speech, Smith said, "At this point in the overall story an individual rally may not clear the bar on news, even with celebrity speakers, if the message is the same one we've been hearing from previous rallies."

What a crock of bull for your article to say that this individual rally was not covered because the message was the same!!!! This speech by Michael Moore was so far out different. Your paper is a disgrace to not cover it. This speech is going to spread like wildfire on YOUTUBE. The people of America are going to have to resort to social media to change this country, because corporate pigs like owners of your newspaper exist.

I heard about the Wisconsin protest exactly three weeks ago and have been captivated by it ever since. I used to watch CNN a lot, specifically Anderson Cooper who, I believed, was always on top of news. To my surprise, both CNN and Anderson grossly under-delivered by providing only one-liners about the protest.

I found out that MSNBC is the only news channel to provide decent and consistent coverage of day-to-day developments in Wisconsin, specifically The Ed Show and the Rachel Maddow Show. In addition, I found lots of news online by editing Google's "News For You": I added 4-5 news topics related to protest and selected "always" while at the same time selecting "never" for any other topic (i.e. world, business, etc.) For those who are just tuning in, that would be a good start to get a feel for what took place over the last three weeks in Wisconsin. To understand why the people of Wisconsin are protesting, google "20 lies (and counting) told by Gov. Walker" posted by Russ' Filtered News or copy and paste this link:

The union member that are flipping off the taxpayers in WI need to start embracing change instead of fighting it. The Gov. Of WI is trying to keep them employed instead of replacing them with much better qualified and more efficient private companies.

Quick quiz;
What do Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson, and all the protestors crowding the WI capitol building have in common? Two things;
1) they are being paid to be there
2) they will be gone on Monday or certainly by the end of next week

Congrats to the people of Wisconsin, their economic nightmare is almost over. Those of us in California...not so much.

I could never figure out what the tea party stuff was all about. The message appeared so diffuse even as they seemed to get a lot of coverage. Occasionally I would hear about certain monied interest who back the tea party, but it was not clear to me if they directed the tea party. In contrast the events in Madison Wisconsin & all the other states who are responding to similar legislation (I mean is there a conspiracy between the newly elected republican govs?) amount to something that it much easier for me to relate. I understand when the protestors say don't take away my rights they are speaking of collective bargining. This is clear as day. Yet despite the clear focus the uprisings in all these different states do not appear to match the media attention the tea party got? I find this curious, that's all.

glad to see this criticism of coverage. Wisconsin needs much more coverage than the mideast. MOst media is guilty of imbalance between these two stories. I wonder if the mideast is used as a distraction from a story that may truly challenge the wealthy corporate power holders in the U.S. They might even criticize media who cover it too prominently??? Safer to focus on rioting over there??? At least I know about moore's eloquent, dramatic truth telling because I saw it on Maddow's show!!! I'm thankful for that at least.

Case in point, today, Sunday March 13, the largest demonstration to date in Madison, Wisconsin, is listed way in the bottom of the page under "Environment".

The events in Wisconsin are what being an American is all about. This is democracy in action. It is all about a specific issue aimed at weakening a class of people. The opponents have managed to stir up jealousy about someone elses benefits. All of us have choices. I could no more have worked as a teacher or state or federal employee than I could fly, but I certainly do not begrudge those who did and did so for certain agreements. To those who rent instead of buying, should they be lamenting the wonderful write offs the people who have mortgages get? Homeowner get to write off all their interest payments. Renters can't. Should renters start carping about this imbalance?
This is another choice that one makes in life. Life is life, neither fair not unfair.

I'm not satisfied by this response to complaints about lack of coverage of the WI protests, but at least it's on their radar and they are being honest that it's something they are intentionally blowing off ("an individual rally may not clear the bar as news...").

To be perfectly honest, it's been weeks since I gave up hoping that mainstream newspapers like LAT or NYT would give this story its due.

People who are interested should just search twitter for "#wiunion." Often there are 1000s of messages per minute, but the tag is never "trending" because it's been a steady roar, not just a spike and flame-out, which is what the twitter algorithm is geared toward.

Saturday's protests (3/12/11) topped 100,000, and WI is not a particularly populous state: these peaceful protests are getting larger, not shrinking over time, so I think the Times's argument that "an individual rally may not clear the bar on news...if the message is the same one we've been hearing from previous rallies" should be reconsidered in light of their size and staying power.

Also, how or why should the protesters be expected to change their message just to clear the bar on news? The things they are protesting remain the same. I don't get this rationale at all. By that standard, there are has been no "news" coming out of either major political party for decades--same message=not news? How would you have covered the Civil Rights movement, then? MLK pretty much had the same "message" at every rally for over a decade....

As of Jan. 2010 with Roberts Supreme Court ruling of unlimited funds from corporatist to our politics, with no disclosure required has opened the door to a Fascism government. Mussolini once defined Fascism as the incorporation of corporate to the state. Now this allows the Chinese, Iranians, Russian, England, France, Mexican corporations to invest into the politicians of their choice. Presently Wisconsin is responding to the challenge.
As this will evolve to lower and middle class taking alarm to the prospects of a corporatism ruler ship. Seeking the demise of their domestic rights. Removing their voice, of their ability to share in the distribution of laborers productivity. A direct symptom of a Fascist state. Wealth to an Aristocratic class. Laws to change to support and strengthen their powers over the lower classes. History has shown what that leads to and it was not good.
Now that the unions, our only bulwark to corporatism, are told to shut up the media fades back on its coverage. Here where the fate of this nation is in the balance they, the media, fail us. Could it be another tentacle of the corporatist?
“We The People In Order To Form A More Perfect Union” is under a desperate assault for our freedoms and the echo’s of the sounds of silence do we hear. Where is Julian when you need him. Take a guess.

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