The News That Wasn’t
JS story on I-94 project in danger is six months old. So why was it a banner headline?
When does a six-month old story become breaking news? When the Journal Sentinel pairs with a “top state senator” to make it so.
Consider the lead paragraph in a JS story posted last night: “The state could lose federal approval for rebuilding the east-west section of I-94 in Milwaukee if lawmakers don’t invest in the project, a top state senator warned Monday.”
As the saying goes, no kidding Dick Tracy.
The Journal Sentinel reported that under what it calls the “latest plan” of Gov. Scott Walker, the “work on the east-west section of I-94 would not be approved.” And this has State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) very worried. “That has sparked her concern that the federal government could pull its approval for the project,” the story goes on.
While presented as breaking news — and published as the front page, top-of-the-fold story — it is in fact six month’s old. Governor Walker’s transportation budget introduced early this year pulled the plug on the E-W project. In so doing the Governor reneged on a written and supposedly binding commitment to the feds a year ago that he would go ahead with the project.
So, rather than being a new development, federal support has been in clear jeopardy for at least six months. It was brought back to life last week in the Senate GOP road plan, the one Governor Walker ditched a day later. In other words, the Governor’s “latest plan” put the E-W project back in jeopardy, where it basically has been for half a year.
Where was the “top state Senator” when Walker’s budget six months ago reneged on his commitment to the E-W? Why was this context not provided in last night’s story? The answers to such questions are a reminder that much of what you read on the transportation impasse barely skims the surface of the story.