The 2007 Tony Awards

Media Rants

By Tony Palmeri

From the December, 2007 edition of The Valley Scene

When I wrote the first Tony Awards column in 2002, I never imagined it would become an annual tradition. But with corporate media in our region now bad beyond belief and getting worse each year, it has become vital to recognize worthwhile alternatives.

The challenge for 2008 is for all of us to pledge not only to consume more independent media, but also to become the media. If you’re reading this, you need to pledge to start a blog, write an original newsletter, get involved in community radio or television, take advantage of whatever space is allowed by the establishment media, or do something else to get yourself heard. You need to do this not so you might receive a Tony award next year, but because in speaking out you will help our sick democracy get well.

And now the 2007 Tony Awards. Drum roll please:

Best Political Blogger: Jo Egelhoff, Fox Politics (www.foxpolitics.net). Appleton readers will know that Jo served as an alderperson on the common council from 1993-2003. There she developed a reputation for asking tough questions and getting answers. Jo’s a genuine conservative and I find myself frequently disagreeing with her. But her blogs are always well argued, provocative, and never substitute Republican Party talking points for independent thought and fresh insights. In other words, Jo leans right but she’s not a “right wing nut.” Her Fox Politics website also includes oodles of information to help find out, as she says, “what’s really going on in the Fox cities.”

Best Entertainment Feature: “Waterfest Watch” by Doug Boone and “Concert Watch” Jane Spietz. The late Doug Boone, a passionate peace activist who passed away in May, did much to promote downtown Oshkosh with his excellent “Waterfest Watch” column in The Scene. Jane Spietz now carries on Doug’s tradition and provides Scene readers with outstanding “Concert Watch” interviews of performers coming to the valley and other parts of the state.

Best Political Cartoons: Lyle Lahey. This is Lyle’s third Tony. Do yourself a favor and visit his blog at http://lylelahey.blogspot.com/. Lahey’s biting humor and anti-fascist leanings deserve comparisons to the best of Herb Block’s editorial cartoons during the McCarthy and Nixon eras. A regular dose of Lahey can help keep progressives sane during these depressing last years of Dubya.’

Best Green Publication: The Farm Fresh Atlas of Eastern Wisconsin. In 2007 being “green” became all the rage, with even multinational corporations talking the talk about sustainable living and resource conservation. Locally, the producers of the Farm Fresh Atlas of Eastern Wisconsin have been walking the walk for several years. The Farm Fresh Atlas (jointly sponsored by Glacierland RC & D, The Oneida Nation, the Riveredge Nature Center, and the Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems) is a great resource for finding out where to buy locally produced food. You can see it on the Web at http://www.farmfreshatlasoew.org/

Best Small Business Newsletter: Roots & Shoots.The Red Radish Newsletter. Continuing with our green theme, Neenah’s wonderful Red Radish natural foods store (447 South Commercial St.) produces a brief but informative newsletter to help guide readers and customers toward a more organic lifestyle. Each issue promotes local food producers and socially conscious businesses, announces healthy happenings around the valley, and includes a few unique and nutritious recipes. The newsletter is linked on the Red Radish website: http://www.theredradish.com/

Best Spanish Language Newspaper: Escena. Moran Marketing Group. Unfortunately, the tone of the discussion in our region regarding undocumented workers often lends support to those who would argue that northeast Wisconsin is hostile to Spanish speaking people. Kudos to the Moran Marketing Group (publishers of The Scene) for becoming part of the long and honorable tradition of publishing the printed word in the language of the immigrant.

Best Student Blog: Infoidolatry by Archivista (http://www.infoidolatry.blogspot.com/). “Archi” is probably the most authentic student blogger you’ll ever come across. Blog post headlines such as “Anatomy of a Wasted Weekend” and “Wish I Was Drunk!” might lead one to think mistakenly that Archi is just another college party animal. In reality, his blog offers a glimpse into the student world not captured in Facebook pages or even student newspapers. Typical Archism: “I have heard that soldiers with PTSD often seek out ways to ‘feel alive’ when they return to civilian life. I can't help but wonder if there is such a thing as PASD - Post Academic Stress Disorder. I say this only because it seems like a pretty common occurrence. After years of semester on semester of mind-numbing structure and demands, I think some of us feel a little like zombies. Zombies who eat knowledge, not just brains. Occasionally, like three times a day, I have the overwhelming sense that I should go live in the woods...”

Ben Jarman (right) with legendary founder of WRST Robert L. "Doc" Snyder

Lifetime Achievement Award: Ben Jarman, Director of Radio Services, WRST 90.3 FM (UW Oshkosh Radio Station). The winner of the UW Oshkosh Distinguished Teaching Award in 2003, Jarman for many years has inspired and guided students at one of the most successful student managed radio stations in the country. Over the years his students have won numerous National Broadcasting Society awards. Soon to retire, Jarman will leave behind some big shoes to fill.

Sincere congratulations to all Tony Award recipients!

Tony Palmeri (www.tonypalmeri.com) is an associate professor of communication at UW Oshkosh and holds a seat on the Oshkosh Common Council.

Prior Tonys: