Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Media Rants: The 2012 Tony Awards

The 2012 Tony Awards

From the January 2013 edition of The SCENE

It’s time for Media Rants’ annual Tony (Palmeri) awards for excellence in Fox Valley media. This year’s awards column is dedicated to the late Robert Jungwirth, former Oshkosh mayor who passed away in early December. A champion of the working class, Jungwirth’s presence as mayor in 1992 so offended the Oshkosh old boy “progressive” establishment that they maneuvered successfully to have him removed from the position. The Oshkosh Northwestern editorially lambasted the “Joe Lunchbuckets” like Jungwirth who got in the way of the establishment’s definition of “progress.” After losing subscribers the paper was forced to apologize.

I had the opportunity to interview Bob Jungwirth on television and speak with him on occasion. His standing up for the little guy, staring down the stale establishment, and sticking to his principles will be sorely missed.

And now the 2012 Tony Awards. Drum roll please.

Excellence in Print Journalism: Ben Jones of the Appleton Post Crescent. Mr. Jones earned a Tony last year for his excellent reporting on the capitol protests against Scott Walker. In an era when the corporate press cuts corners and dumbs down important issues at almost every turn, it’s rare to find a journalist like Jones who writes readable stories rigorously promoting openness and transparency in government. Two of his most noteworthy pieces in 2012 were Transparency on Wisconsin spending still lacking after six years” (March 10) and “$100 million inbusiness tax credits, but at what cost?” (Dec. 1).

Outstanding Sports Broadcasts: Bob Burnell. In 2012 the UW Oshkosh football team came within one game of making it to the Division III championship round. During the Titans’ thrilling playoff run, I found myself eagerly looking forward to listening to the games on WOSH 1490 AM. Bob Burnell’s broadcasting was truly outstanding. Alone in the booth, he called play by play and offered commentary in ways every bit as professional and enthusiastic as the best of Division I and NFL announcing.

Best New Newsletter: Wisconsin Veterans For Peace. In November I was honored to moderate a panel that included Zach LaPorte and David Heller, two courageous Iraq War veterans now active members of the organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). The organization had its first ever statewide meeting in Neillsville last fall, and one result was the creation of a grassroots newsletter. (not yet online). The first issue identifies five IVAW action areas: (1) Raising awareness of drones in WI, (2) Engaging in coordinated Truth in Recruiting events, (3) Pressuring politicians who vote for and support war spending, (4)  Focus on offering human services to veterans in all Wisconsin localities, (5) Push “Bring Our War Dollars Home” resolutions in city and town councils. For more information, contact IVAW Communications Coordinator Matt Howard at

Outstanding Election Night Coverage: WRST FMOn election night in northeast Wisconsin, anyone who didn’t feel like watching the likes of Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly make utter fools of themselves on Fox News with their hysterical reactions to Barack Obama’s victory had a wonderful local alternative. UW Oshkosh student radio station WRST FM provided an evening of rational, calm, focused, insightful analysis of all the major state and national races. Student hosts conducted a series of wide ranging interviews with a variety of expert guests, politicians and pundits. Kudos to WRST Director of Radio Services Randall Davidson for his efforts aimed at working with students to make WRST a place for civic engagement.

Up and Coming Media Star: Tanya Krueger. A disability rights activist, author, and motivational speaker, Tanya Krueger has spent much of her life rising above adversity. Her website ( includes some awesome blog posts and podcasts. Tanya took a few classes with me at UW Oshkosh a few years ago, and at that time I had the sense that she was on a mission to use media in ways that could empower herself and others. In 2012 she showed every sign of becoming a media force to be reckoned with. Do yourself a favor and see Tanya speak at the Appleton Public Library on January 14th from 4 to 5 pm on the topic of “Disabled Bodies, Able Minds.” You won’t be disappointed.

Promising New Publication: The Oshkosh SCENE. The SCENE for years has been a breath of fresh air in regions of Wisconsin saturated with mostly mediocre corporate media. Over the last ten years I’ve had the privilege of working with two great editors, Tom Breuer and Jim Lundstrom, both of whom encourage irreverence and outside the box thinking (two things that are the essence of independent media).
In 2012 the SCENE expanded into Oshkosh, and the results have been promising. Editor Justin Mitchell goes out of his way to make the publication a community asset and provide writers with guidance. Featuring primarily local writers, well written cover stories, lots of event announcements, and excellent graphics, the SCENE is indeed a community asset in its first year. Go to Facebook and Like the Oshkosh SCENE today!
Like all new publications the Oshkosh SCENE is still in the process of “finding its voice.” Does it want to be an Oshkosh cheerleader? A complement to the establishment media or a challenger of it? A forum for irreverence and outside the box thinking? Something else? We’ll see.

Congratulations to all Tony Award winners!