People send us their newspapers and magazines. Sometimes, we review them.

Milwaukee Magazine, January 2009

The January 2009 issue of Milwaukee Magazine features thirty-six innovators under age forty “who will change Milwaukee.” The most notable (and interesting) picks for us are the three reporters who make the list: Sean Ryan, a twenty-eight-year-old City Hall reporter for The Daily Reporter (“Wisconsin’s Construction, Law and Public Record Authority Since 1897”), who “regularly scoops the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” and is touted as “a throwback, an old-fashioned newsman”; Ben Poston, twenty-eight, a data whiz at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel whose analytical work has helped anchor the paper’s Watchdog Group and investigative efforts; and Mick Trevey, twenty-seven, a TV reporter for WTMJ-4, who covered the story of a man who was released from prison after serving eighteen years for a rape that he didn’t commit, only to reappear in the news as a suspect in a murder case.

Gossip page The Mil uses opensecrets.org to probe campaign donations “made by the city’s high-ranking culture vultures,” and finds that “quite a few [donors] are Republicans” (Milwaukee Art Museum board members, for instance, donated $118,250 to Republicans and $63,000 to Democrats). Media reporter Erik Gunn writes about the downside of newspapers’ elimination of Associated Press content, and questions the ethics of Journal Sentinel columnist Patrick McIlheran sending his column to area bloggers “in advance of publication.”

Meanwhile, features include a standard-fare profile of Rock Dee, a well known Radio Milwaukee DJ who committed suicide, and a more engrossing investigation of Amish and Mennonite puppy mills. The strong intro: “Life was a struggle for Wallace Havens. He worked days inseminating cattle for a breeding company, nights manning a motel front desk.” That is, until he started breeding dogs—from cockapoos to goldendoodles to puggles. From there, writer Mary van de Kamp Nohl moves to darker stuff—about how puppy mill dogs can suffer from anything from hypoglycemia to brucellosis to physical and mental deformities, and how many Amish and Mennonite breeders are moving their operations to Wisconsin because it has some of the nation’s weakest regulations. -Jane Kim

Standpoint, December 2008

Standpoint’s mission statement says the U.K.-based publication isn’t a light snack: “In a market swamped by the journalistic equivalent of fast food, Standpoint hopes to offer the discerning reader a feast of great writing — properly edited and presented in an elegant design that makes even longer pieces a pleasure to read.” This new cultural and political magazine is seven issues old and still seems to be defining its identity, as evidenced by a solid, if oddly matched, grouping of articles.

In its physical form, Standpoint is lovely. The pages are a nice semi-glossy stock, and the cover is has a velvet-matte finish. The design is simple, with red and blue accent colors used sparingly. There are nice illustrations, like the adorable mole with bowler, pince-nez, and cane accompanying “The Mole” column, but too many silhouette-cutout photographs perching awkwardly in corners and on edges of pages.

The front of the book, “Counterpoints”, starts off weak with a non-committal sketch of Sarah Maple, a boundary pushing Muslim artist: “Her work has been criticised as provocation for its own sake, lacking artistic merit and mocking religious sensitivities for publicity. In response, it has been argued that regardless of its quality or whether it is deliberate provocation, her artistic freedom of expression should be defended to the hilt.” But two short FOB pieces redeem the section, a rumination on the usage of words “good” and “well” to describe well being or moral standing, and a first-person essay-lette from a man whose brother is a Royal Marine in Afghanistan: “However, I know, deep down, that my brother is just your average man shooting at another average man, no matter how precise his shot is, or what it’s fired in the name of. And to me this doesn’t make his actions futile, tragic or pitiable - it just makes them ordinary. By understanding the ordinariness of war, I can approach my brother’s involvement in Afghanistan without cynicism or sadness.”

The most exciting entry in the next section of columns is “The Mole,” a dispatch from an anonymous source inside the BBC who shares his or her savvy: “For any new recruit to the Corporation, it can come as something of a surprise to find how much responsibility can be foisted on inexperienced shoulders. A young producer can find herself talking to very prominent people and making instant decisions about who should and who should not be put on air. That involves a lot of trust. There is a safeguard, of course, and it can be summarised in six words: “when in doubt, refer it up.””

The Editors