Here's some high praise for you. In the foreword to Bill Lueders' latest book, Watchdog, Doug Moe invokes the names of Studs Terkel and Mike Royko, two legends of the Chicago journo/literary scene. They had a much bigger and dirtier playground to work in, but Moe, who has established himself in Madison's journalistic firmament with his columns in the Wisconsin State Journal, is right - Bill Lueders has covered Madison and life hereabouts with the same tenacity and thirst for the truth that those heroes did.
Our featured story in the news section this week consists of excerpts from the book, which, in most cases, started out in the pages of Isthmus. Even if you have been reading Isthmus for the last 25 years, you will be impressed by the breadth and the depth of Lueders' work since he started writing for the paper in 1986.
Lueders came to Isthmus to fill in for departed news editor Marc Eisen - who didn't die but went to work for The Capital Times - after having co-founded a Milwaukee alternative paper called The Crazy Shepherd. (The title was derived from the Allen Ginsberg poem "Howl.") That paper survives to this day as The Shepherd Express. But for the past 24 years he has toiled in the news department of Isthmus. It was the perfect spot to put him in contact with the human-interest stories that have marked his career.
To Lueders, injustice was not the misfortune that befell anonymous strangers in foreign lands. Injustice is what visits people all around us every day. On many of those days, people with no other recourse call in to the newspaper office to voice their indignation at life's vicissitudes. It's Lueders who hears them out. And often it's Lueders who investigates their stories and pursues their cases.
That's why we call him Watchdog.