Local News Outlets Should Look to Our Neighbors from the North

With the ranks of reporters and the level of local news coverage at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shrinking, the activities of organized crime outfits in Milwaukee remains dramatically under reported.  One would think that local television assignment editors—witnessing the void in detailed crime related coverage—would seize the opportunity to fill in the gaps left by declining newspaper revenues. Instead, local newscasts bombard viewers of southeastern Wisconsin with over-the-top weather coverage and investigations pertaining to restaurant cleanliness.

“The only way for a violent gang war to get noticed in the Milwaukee news media,” a retired police supervisor wrote, tongue-in-cheek, in a recent e-mail, “is to have the gangs’ members host a barbeque with dirty utensils.”

If television news in the Milwaukee area is interested in getting it right, they should take a few tips from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. 

Plagued by a rash of recent bad news, Vancouver, British Columbia, is now in the midst of a violent gang war.  The leader of the Red Scorpions street gang, 30-year-old Jonathan Bacon, was gunned-down Sunday while riding in an SUV with a member of the Hells Angels. The shots were fired from outside the SUV and investigators still are unsure whom, specifically, the intended target was.

To get an idea of what solid, local television news looks like, please visit the below link and watch the video.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/08/15/bc-bacon-killing-retaliation-fears.html

Unfortunately, hard hitting local television news is tough to come by these days, as ratings books seem to validate what is newsworthy and what is not.  As difficult as it is to believe, some viewers remain glued to their television sets as reporters stand in the white death that falls from the sky each winter.

While it is comforting to know that the residents of Vancouver are getting the low-down on what is actually transpiring in their community, residents of the metro Milwaukee area are updated with only a paragraph or two about a handful of nightly shootings in the newspaper. 

Editors: besides the WHERE, it might also be helpful to further inform readers about the who, what, when, why, and how.  Readers understand that news budgets are tight, but Journalism 101 mandates sufficient answers to the remaining five questions. 

Follow-up: another detailed story pertaining to this gang related shooting. 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/08/17/bc-kelowna-shooting-quadriplegic.html

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

To learn more, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/books.html

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

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