Green Bay Packer fans don't know how lucky they are when it comes to the people who cover their favorite team. No. Seriously. It always astounds me when I hear or read someone rip on any one of our three nominees. Having lived in Chicago, Winston-Salem, and New York, and having been subjected to what passes for 'professional' coverage of an NFL team in those cities, I can tell you that the guys and gals working the Packer beat at the following papers are second to none.
Even with the retirement of Cliff Christl, and despite it's long distance from the city of the team it covers, this Milwaukee outfit brings the goods. With Christl gone, Bob McGinn is now the Grand Pooh-bah beat guy, and there is simply no one better in the country. Does he make mistakes? Of course. (Who could forget his massive op-ed on why the Packers should give up a first round pick for Drew Henson, which, by the way, has mysteriously disappeared from the internet ;) ) But the man is still one of the the two or three best beat guys in the nation. (And having said that, we officially apologize for this post)
Newcomer Greg Bedard did yeoman's work in his first year covering the Pack, especially on the Blog and interacting with fans. His regular "Monday With Mikey's Men" feature, where he asks a handful of questions to assistant coaches posted by readers of the blog, is a perfect example of how the Journal Sentinel is taking steps to bring the fans closer to the game. Not to mention the chance it gives bloggers to have some semblance of access, illusionary though it may be. The rest of the staff is excellent, especially Tom Silverstein, who's work is often overshadowed by McGinn, but is on par with anything the lead writer puts out.
Their website as a whole is wonderful, complete with very short podcasts and even some video interviews with various staff members, though these are usually just parroted from their articles, and not very entertaining. (I know, I know, it's news, but I just read it - why do I want to see someone speak it now?) But overall, the interactive element is excellent and getting better.
The place where it all started, the Press Gazette, owned by Gannett Newspapers, benefits online from a pool of resources at both the Green Bay and Appleton papers. Mike Vandermause has taken over the lead commentary role after the mysterious firing of Chris Havel. (What happened there, really? It was really handled poorly on the Gazette's end, and they owe their readership a real explanation) Vandermause's writing is thorough, if a bit bland. And he rarely scoops anything, which is shocking for the Sports Editor of the hometown paper that covers the Green Bay Packers.
The rest of the staff is strong, though both Corey and I have noted a distinct sloppiness when it comes to 'the small stuff', as it were. It doesn't ever hold back the quality of a writer's piece but it is annoying when, as a fan, I can spot statistical errors or small facts that are incorrect. These people are paid professionals. They have editors. What excuse do they have?
Overall, their website, Packersnews.com is a great place for all sorts of Packer info, both as it relates to the game on the field and to auxiliary stuff around the town of Green Bay. The Out Of Bounds blog is a particular joy, as it humanizes the people and the game to a degree you don't get anywhere else (that we've found). The one thing that detracts from the experience is the rather infantile rantings that sometimes show up at the bottom of stories in the 'Comments' section of any given piece (although, kudos to the paper for trying to keep things interactive). Overall, the site and staff are first rate.
Two words: Jason Wilde.
He is the reason to read the State Journal's coverage. (Heck, he IS the coverage) Every article is spot on in factual accuracy, and always captures the tenor of the times in Packerland. It would behoove the editors to give Mr. Wilde a raise, because he is a one man band and he never misses a story or an angle. He's currently at the Scouting Combine, covering it himself for the State Journal. Just stellar stuff.
The website leaves something to be desired, and it seems they have very limited web-readership, as there are rarely any 'comments' left, and there are few, true 'interactive' elements. But as stated above, Wilde is a joy to read, and the reason to seek out the Wisconsin State Journal.
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