Introducing The Wausau Sentinel
I hope you will come with me on this news journey.
What do you want from local news here? Evan J. Pretzer/The Wausau Sentinel
The United States and Wisconsin have experienced disruptions in the last few years. Aside from COVID-19 and politics, this is also seen throughout local news.
More than 100 of these newsrooms closed during the early days of the disease ravaging the world and corporate owners have shuttered spaces that served communities. They have stopped printing operations in Wisconsin, and, often, those remaining anywhere are beleaguered, overworked, and not doing things they are proud of. I am tired of it, so, I am stepping in to try to rebuild some.
Some of you may have seen my creations already. I have contributed content to Wausau’s City Pages, made national news in Canada for sharing what it was like to be apart from my now-wife when the border was closed, and have created content for places like WeGotThisCovered over the past little while, too. I know how to write, and have made a difference in people’s lives, and, with this said, I now want to tell you what The Wausau Sentinel will be and what it never will.
This cannot and will not be a space for my political views. I have seen reporters inject this into much of their coverage, and, while I understand when it happens with something utterly egregious and unprecedented (no one would expect me to be neutral on a genocide anywhere, after all), I pledge on the life of my dog to never do it around readers for the basics. I take my impartiality seriously enough I have not voted for anyone lest I be subconsciously influenced and always try to explain the nuances and multitudes surrounding issues which are big and small.
For example, while Washington owning slaves is forever a negative in his life, he did help found the United States and later came to see the institution as repugnant. This is not something people can always be exposed to in an era where the average television news story is less than five minutes on a broadcast network and elsewhere can be an average of 40 seconds only in local markets.
“Evan J. Pretzer covered my story to aid me in fundraising for a down payment on an accessible home for my disabled daughter. He was always kind and was a pivotal piece of the puzzle that contributed to our success. If anyone needs a story to be told, I strongly suggest giving him a call or sending him an email!”
I will fight tooth and nail to avoid this lack of depth. This brings me to my second point about what you can expect from the offerings at this outlet.
Every week, I and whoever can help me will publish a sliding scale of four to nine stories. If things grow (I cannot predict if this will just be an interesting misfire) we will be able to do more and what goes up will have complexity to it, even if it is just a simple press release about a new City idea. We WILL have TOTALLY LOCAL content; will cover people you have not always seen in other media and will be honest when we do end up doing something improperly.
To show I mean this, I will reveal one from my past now.
In the City Pages story I reported last year during the week of Oct. 28 - Nov. 4, I interviewed women who have gone through abortions and asked about what this is like. For counterpoints to these stories, I spoke to a pro-choice person and an anti-abortion figure in Jack Hoogendyk. I asked him and Kayley McColley on the other side of the aisle if they agreed women who have had abortions should speak out on it more, and, while I thought I was being clear to the one-time Republican politician and HOPE Life Center director, I went south in two ways.
First, I could have been more eloquent in explaining my intentions, and second, after I ran McColley’s quote, I used the below line to describe Hoogendyk’s views;
“Jack Hoogendyk, executive director of the HOPE Life Center in Wausau, agrees. Though the one-time Republican politician formerly from Michigan and Marathon County Republican Party chair has a more conservative perspective than McColley on the issue, he said more women speaking out would move minds and it is not the place of outsiders to opine on actions.”
This made it seem like he agreed with McColley and this was wrong of me. I should have noted he agrees with women who have had abortions speaking out about them more and noted he did not meet McColley, but, I did not. I have not had an interview with him since on stories I have worked on and hope this changes in the future as this publication goes on to create community content.
I hope you will come with me on this news journey. I am not perfect but believe in the work, have never given up on it since I started in 2017, and hope to make an impact on this part of Wisconsin that people will remember for many years.
Fingers crossed there are no kinks we need to work out and we can have fun.