Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Eugene Kane is the new cub reporter on the education beat, Laurel Walker is retiring


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Laurel Walker is retiring. Agree or disagree (as I often did) with her columns, there is now one less set of eyes on Waukesha County, and that is not a good thing.

She has always been cordial towards me and I wish her nothing but the best in her retirement. She gets her wish – no more Waukesha Common Council meetings except on television.

Okay, one Laurel Walker story. When the city of Waukesha considered allowing the Northwoods Baseball League to build a stadium in Frame Park, I immediately expressed some skepticism. Then Walker wrote a column against the idea. So I went down to City Hall to talk to Mayor Larry Nelson and asked to see the secret file on the proposed stadium (I didn’t have to do open records requests in those days) and he cheerfully showed me the file. But Nelson couldn’t resist commenting (and I’m relying on memory here), “Let me guess. Laurel Walker is opposed so you’re second-guessing yourself because you can’t be on the same side.”

Actually, Walker and I were both right, and the stadium was never built.

Meanwhile, Eugene Kane is giving up his weekly column to become a reporter covering education. How is that going to work? Kane’s positions on every issue, including education, are well known. There’s no way he can be treated as solely an objective observer on topics like school choice. Kane is a doctrinaire liberal and the idea that he can be objective after writing his opinion columns for so long is a fantasy that can only be taken seriously at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

On the other hand, I’m going to miss Kane’s columns. Seriously. No, really. I hope he gets to still express his opinions on Twitter.

There is one other aspect that bothers me about Kane’s change in status. Who says opinion columnists don’t do reporting? If the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wanted more original reporting out of Kane, then the solution isn’t to take away his column. The solution is to ask him to include more original reporting in his column. That would be more honest than putting Kane’s byline on a supposedly “objective” news report.

Pretty soon there won’t be enough of a newspaper to potty-train a puppy.

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