After nearly 80 years (can that be right?), The Franklin Hub newspaper is effectively folding and, beginning January 25th, becoming part of a new paper called Oak Creek-Franklin-Greendale-Hales Corners NOW.
As much as folks at Community Newspapers want you to believe this is an outstanding development (see full publisher's letter below), I can't help but chalk this up to yet another area in which the American sense of community is withering.
Subscribers to the Hub have noticed its gradual depletion for some time now, becoming more and more slender and less and less useful as the consolidation plans went on. Does this mean there was less news to report locally? Fewer development issues? No - just far fewer people who feel connected to their city to the extent that they'd want to subscribe to the local paper; low subscriber numbers mean fewer staff reporters, and that means little or no in-depth coverage of local news. And, since the Hub is owned by Community Newspapers, a company that published 18 small local papers (I don't know what the new number is since consolidations), they have no real stake in Franklin specifically.
Take it from someone who is making an attempt to grasp development issues in Franklin: Keeping tabs on the myriad meetings, committees, proposals, procedures, etc. involved in local city planning issues is complicated and time intensive. I had a fairly long conversation last week with three men who have been involved with local development at various levels for many years, and they heartily agreed with my assertion that it would require a full-time reporter to cover Franklin's development issues while remaining on top of all the intertwining factors.
Or how about Franklin education issues? People might be interested to learn that Franklin school district parents received FRIDAY a letter explaining that all special education programs and kids will be displaced from Pleasant View Elementary and moved to Southwood Glen; there will be a meeting about the issue TONIGHT (Monday, January 15). Who were the committee members involved in the "District Growth and Planning Report" and what are their backgrounds? Do they realize they are foisting a jarring transition on kids for whom consistency is vital and a major change like this represents a sure setback to their development - - is that worth freeing up some rooms?
Also, announced in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Beginning Thursday, Jan. 25, Journal Sentinel readers will receive a free weekly community newspaper with their Journal Sentinel in these communities: Muskego, New Berlin, Brookfield, Elm Grove, Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Germantown, Menomonee Falls, Greenfield, West Allis, Bay View, Cudahy, St. Francis, South Milwaukee, Bayside, Brown Deer, Fox Point, Glendale, Mequon, River Hills, Shorewood, Thiensville and Whitefish Bay."
On the plus side, the Franklin Now web site may be quite useful. I'm looking forward to seeing what local voices might emerge on the Community Voices section (currently occupied by Republican state senator Mary Lazich alone, much as the Hub's letter column has been for years).
It is not often that we have used this space for a letter from the publisher, but I wanted to personally inform you of some exciting changes at Community Newspapers.
Beginning Jan. 25, the Franklin Hub will return to Thursday delivery and begin publishing under a new name, Oak Creek-Franklin-Greendale-Hales Corners NOW. This should be the final phase of significant changes that began last fall with the development of our www.MyCommunityNOW.com Web site.
The newspaper will include local news and sports coverage, the things you've told us to retain in the newspaper - Police Report maps, Government Watch and columnists such as Charlie Sykes, Dennis Shook and Matt Pommer, as well as some new items from the Web. We will feature, for example, the best of bloggers, who will have a chance to publish their thoughts online on the new FranklinNOW.com Web site, which will formally launch Friday, Jan. 19.
For local Milwaukee Journal Sentinel home delivery subscribers, this new NOW paper will be delivered Thursdays with the daily newspaper. Our Circulation Department is in the process of contacting subscribers with additional information. Newstand copies of the Thursday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also will include the NOW paper. Those who don't receive a Thursday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at their home may pick up a free copy of the NOW paper at select locations.
The changes are part of our continuing effort to serve the needs of our readers, advertisers and our company's shareholders. Our goal is to preserve the best aspects of the Franklin Hub, which has served the community for 78 years, while exploring ways to reach new readers and advertisers online.
You can always find up-to-the-minute community news at our Web site. Log on to MyCommunityNOW.com to submit your stories, photos and blogs, as well as to find the latest news and information about your community.
The combination of these three products - your weekly community newspaper, the local Web site and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the state's largest daily newspaper - provide you with the best and most complete news and shopping information about your neighborhood.
We understand change can be difficult, and we appreciate your loyalty throughout the transition. We anticipate these changes will enable us to provide you with a good balance of editorial and advertising information - in print and online. You can contact me at (414) 224-2427 or our editor, Roger Bartel, at (262) 317-8553.