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Crocker Stephenson

Dear All,

Please consider sending a short e-mail of support
To the key decision makers of the “Journal-Sentinel,”
On behalf of Crocker Stephenson and his wonderful column,
“Snapshots.”

If you liked Crocker’s stories about
Will Allen, Mathibela Sebothoma, and Pieter Godfrey

http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/jul05/339372.asp (on Will)

And other “Snapshots” in the past,
If you think, like I do, that Crocker is
One of the finest writers to grace the pages of the
“Journal-Sentinel,” then send an e-mail to:

Journal-Sentinel Publisher: Betty Brenner
Editor in Chief: Marty Kaiser
Editor: George Stanley

And, while you’re at it, if you have liked Crocker’s work,
Send him an e-mail of support to…

Crocker is for some bizarre reason
Being slimed in “Milwaukee Magazine’s” on-line web site,
Drawing upon an article from a man
Whose criticisms of Crocker imply a
Man without a Heart,
and not much Mind.

The essence of this mean spirited attack
Is that some of Crocker’s stories,
which focus on redemption efforts
by people with less than perfect lives
(like mine! and maybe yours!)
Do not in a “snapshot” piece
Drag out for public display,
The “sins of their youth,”
Or even, “all” of their sins.

Why should a “snapshot” of a person
Who is doing the right thing and fighting the good fight,
Dig deep and widely broadcast their
Past failings?

Why would Crocker be criticized for offering us
Stories of people overcoming past mistakes
(like me! and maybe some of you!).

Judge for yourself by going to the website
Where this all started:

http://www.poynter.org, at Romanesko’s site.

There should be in yesterday’s section
A defense of Crocker by one of his editors
And an attack on Crocker by a man named
Peter Robertson.

What say?

Why not?

May the wind be at our backs in 2006,
And may Crocker continue to enlighten Milwaukee,

Old Godsil — January 19, 2006

P.S. This defense of Crocker is based on
what he has done for the civic culture of Milwaukee,
not my gratitude for today’s piece on a roofer with a less than perfect past that Crocker’s “snapshot”
did not broadcast. I wonder if he or I will be slimed
For that?

==/==/==

In Response to “Journal” Editor Defense of Crocker

Jan. 19, 2006

Dear All,

Here is a “Journal” editor
Showing great depth and nuance
In defending Crocker Stephenson
Against what I think is a smear
By someone named Peter Robertson.

I pray the “Journal” continues to offer
Crocker Stephenson a chance to
Portray Milwaukee lives,
Sinners and all.

Who will cast stones?

I hope Mr. Robertson regains
The decency lost in so narrow minded
And mean-spirited an appraisal of
The great and much need work
Of Crocker Stephenson.

Godsil

http://poynter.org/forum/?id=32178

1/18/2006 3:12:50 PM

From PAUL SEVART, senior editor/local enterprise and administration, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Peter Robertsonís column in Milwaukee Magazine regarding Crocker Stephensonís “Snapshots” is inaccurate in its assertion that “Stephenson doesnít bother to do background checks.”

In fact, Stephenson uses Wisconsinís court records database to check the criminal record of his subjects and exercises judgment ≠ a word that Robertson apparently isnít familiar with ≠ in deciding what is worth including in his 500-word slice-of-life columns.

These are not school board candidates that Stephenson writes about. His columns often attempt to bring humanity and even dignity to people who, in Robertsonís world, apparently deserve neither because they have broken the law. He often writes about people who are broken in one way or another, and if he is sympathetic to the characters who populate his columns, he does not entertain illusions of their perfection, nor does he expect our readers to.

In fact, Robertsonís assumption of naivete on the part of our readers is almost touching. Imagine their surprise on learning that a man who makes his living scavenging bricks has been in and out of jail, or that a crack dealer had carried a gun and tried to rob someone, or that a man who was convicted of one drug charge would be convicted later of another, or that a couple living out of their car had convictions for theft and drugs.

I encourage you to read these columns yourself rather than rely on Robertsonís breathless descriptions:

Kishon Bartee
Doug Kay
Henning Yderstad
Luther “Shorty” Barnes
The follow-up on ďSilly the Clown”

Because Robertson raises the question of trust, it is worth noting why Stephenson and I declined to speak to Robertson. His track record in writing about the Journal Sentinel gave us no reason to expect that we would be treated fairly.

Whether Stephenson should include more about the criminal backgrounds of the people in his columns is a matter of opinion, and is fair game for any armchair media critic. What is not fair is to publish an assertion that has no basis in fact.

Last edited by TeganDowling. Based on work by g.  Page last modified on January 19, 2006

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