Start the presses!
The most recent editor of the Wisconsin State Journal is moving upstairs to a job at corporate hdq. Jason Adrians, we hardly knew ye. Isn’t that the case with every newspaper editor and publisher these days? Who is today’s Colonel McCormick? Katherine Graham? Ben Bradlee? Who bosses the Washington Post since Marty Baron? (A: Sally Buzbee?)
Here in Madison WI, Wild Bill Evjue broke away from the State Journal over his old employer’s opposition to Fighting Bob La Follette. Evjue (pronounced “Ev-you”) founded The Capital Times in 1917 — the same year he served a term in the state legislature! Journalism and politics! Evjue owned and ran it for the next 53 years like Connie Mack of the old Philly Athletics. Who was going to tell the owner he couldn’t foist his opinions in a Page One column?
Or air his own radio program on the station he owned? WIBA-AM was required listening Sunday mornings after Mass in the 1950s. The old man would bellow “Hello Wisconsin!” That exertion prompted a vigorous throat clearing and loosening of Democrat(ic) phlegm while our family ate Sunday dinner (not lunch!).
News you can trust
It is something of an exaggeration but father was usually hidden behind the eight-column pages of The Capital Times. His boy figured there must be something important in there. For his 7th birthday the kid received a tiny printing press. But there wasn’t much you could say with the limited rubber type provided.
Every school kid possessed a 5 by 8-inch tablet of lined paper. That became the newsprint for The Blaskie News — a nod to how some of our farm neighbors pronounced our name. Its editor and publisher was the leading voice of Bugtown, a nation located somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, improbably rectangular like the farm’s Back 40. Conveniently, young Blaska was also President of Bugtown.
Over the next couple of years, while brother Mike-boy was following the hired man around the farm, David sat at the kitchen table to scratch out 51 editions. We reproduce here the very first, which details the oldest two boys arresting and briefly incarcerating the next brother, Bill, in snow fence — before he “askaped.” After that episode, the editor rushed to the kitchen table to report the news to the people of Bugtown in Issue #1.
Years later, the same reporter (only slightly matured) walked into the editor’s office at 1901 Fish Hatchery Road. Evjue’s successor, Miles McMillan — a force in his own right — barked, “What do you want, Blaska?”
“Your job,” the reporter answered.
Imagine that editorial page!
That ambition was never realized. His politics were all wrong and — truth be told — his personality as well. After 18 years in daily newspapering, Tommy Thompson called; 1990 was an election year. Fast forward to 2002. Jim Doyle had just defeated Scott McCallum for governor. Republicans like Blaska wore a target on their back — as the Wisconsin State Journal reported in so many words. Tom Still was leaving as its editorial page editor. Never wanted a job so dearly.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Scored an interview as one of the finalists. The editor riffled through his mail during our face to face. Was all the applicant could do to resist smacking the mail out of his hand. The editor’s name askapes me, which is the point of today’s episode.