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 latimes.com, 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.”

This column was originally published on LATimes.com on March 9, 2011.

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