Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Journal Board Member Stanek, Figure in Baird Suit, Ignored in Paper’s Story

By - Sep 13th, 2006 04:11 pm
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[[Update: November 10th, 2006 — The headline on this story is still true today. In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, on page C1, staff writer Susanne Craig wrote about the dispute between Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., and Red Granite Advisors, LLC. Unfortunately, the account did not mention Mary Ellen Stanek, a central figure in the dispute. The paper eventually did mention Ms. Stanek in a subsequent article, after the hounding we gave her editors in the post below. — Michael Horne]]

Four months after the case was filed, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finally got around to writing about the Baird v. Red Granite Advisors, LLC. lawsuit in a story by veteran reporter Kathleen Gallagher in today’s newspaper.

The daily paper’s intrepid staff was certainly aware of the case, if only from reading it here in one or another of Milwaukeeworld’s postings of August 22nd and 24th, and the delay in reporting the story could be attributed to the thoroughness with which Journal Sentinel reporters investigate their stories.

Or, perhaps, to the thoroughness with which editors there like to protect their bosses.

In this case the mantle of protection was draped over Mary Ellen Stanek, a member of the boards of both Robert W. Baird & Co. and of Journal Communications, Inc., where she has served since June 4, 2002, before the media firm was taken public in an initial stock offering managed by – Robert W. Baird & Co. How convenient!

In 2003, Journal Communications paid Robert W. Baird & Co. $5,738,450 for underwriting discounts and commissions in connection with the firm’s initial public offering, and another $1,949,972 in “customary fees” in its capacity as financial advisor.

Stanek individually received 4,000 Class “A” Journal shares and an additional 1,500 Class “B” shares of the company’s stock, as of April 29, 2004. She bought another 3,000 shares at $15.25 per share on April 29, 2005, according to the most recent information available, and now holds 7,000 Class “A” shares. Like many of Ms. Stanek’s investments, this one has gone south. As of today, Journal Class “A” shares trade at about $11.50. [See chart.]

All of this information should have been as readily available to Ms. Gallagher as it was to milwaukeeworld, but she and her editors chose, for whatever reason, to produce an article favorable to a corporation that shares a board member and a complicated financial relationship with her publicly-traded employer.

It is a familiar story from the folks at 4th & State. When the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel hired Bruce Murphy after his famous expose of the County pension scandal here at Milwaukeeworld, Murphy soon found himself in what he called “The Belly of the Beast” in a June, 2005 article in Milwaukee Magazine, of which he is now the editor since his escape from the Journal Sentinel.

According to Murphy, the Journal Sentinel is “an often strained newsroom where top editors drive the agenda, middle editors worry about their dictates and reporters take turns being confused and demoralized.”

Today’s article in the Journal Sentinel shows that Murphy’s words still ring true.

Bucher Concession Speech

From all the publicity it gets, Paul Bucher‘s concession speech last night (the most-viewed video clip on Channel 12s website, we learn) ranks up there with Washington‘s Farewell Address. Let’s hope it has the same staying power.

This article was originally published by Milwaukee World.

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