As the world lives increasingly online, so does Isthmus, publishing original stories every day on TheDailyPage.com. Here is some of the more memorable coverage from the past year.
Crime in downtown Madison, most notably the murders of Joel Marino and Brittany Zimmermann, was the number one issue on many readers' minds. Perhaps the year's biggest Isthmus story, one that received national attention, was Jason Shepard's story reporting that the Dane County 911 Center mishandled a call from slain UW student Brittany Zimmermann. His exclusive report was published online just after midnight on May 1, and by morning was the talk of the town. It set off a flurry of press conferences by 911 Center Director Joe Norwick, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, and the ongoing political fallout of these revelations continues to be covered.
Ongoing concerns about crime in Madison was likewise a primary focus of TDP blogger David Blaska, whose posts on homelessness in downtown Madison galvanized conservatives around the city.
The 2008 presidential election was inescapable, starting with primary season last winter when candidates stumped in Madison in advance of the big Wisconsin primary. TPD was all over the race and provided timely coverage of their visits, most notably the Obama rally at the Kohl Center covered by Nathan Comp, as well as visits by Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee. As the general election season rolled around, focus turned to the Obama campaign juggernaut, along with the wealth of political satire that accompanies the political carnival, such as the musical spoof of Sarah Palin by Ken Lonnquist. On the big night itself, Bill Lueders watched the results with the Dane County GOP while Vikki Kratz reported from the ebullient Dane Dems party.
At the state level, Marc Eisen tracked a political clash of titans between WMC and Epic Systems, the latter bold stand against the business lobby's support of conservative candidates, particularly for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Strange and nasty weather reigned all year. David Medaris kept abreast of the climactic conditions, starting with the endless march of snowstorms last winter followed by the deluges of spring. And don't forget the ice quake on Lake Mendota that shook the UW campus.
Wisconsin was finally ready for its close-up when UW alum Michael Mann shot the film Public Enemies with stars Johnny Depp at various locations around the state last spring. Kristian Knutsen followed the development of the period gangster epic, capturing the scene at Monona Terrace where thousands turned out for a casting call for extras, as well as covering a Wisconsin Capitol shoot as the building stood in for a Washington, D.C. location. Rod Melotte covered shoots in Columbus and Oshkosh, and Kenneth Burns pondered the Depp-mania that engulfed the state. Film fans also found plenty to love and learn in weekly DVD reviews by Mike Wilmington.
There was likewise plenty to find online about the Madison music scene and the steady stream of new tunes and live shows that keep it flowing. Tom Laskin and Jessica Steinhoff, along with a few others, kept listeners abreast of the latest cuts released by Madison musicians in the MadTracks series of MP3 reviews, while Bob Koch explored a more classic format in his reviews from the Vinyl Cave. Live performances were a regular beat too, the reviews including: Editors and Hot Hot Heat by Emily Denaro, the MAMAs awards show by Rich Albertoni, the Madison Senior Scenester Potluck by Adam Powell, the Wilco rally for Obama by Cindy Carlson, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings by Charles Hughes, and the Madison Music Makers fiddle festival by Kiki Schueler, along with many others. Change was ubiquitous, meanwhile. The first half of the year saw the arrival of The Project Lodge and The Frequency, while the latter half saw the departures of The OuttaToons (their name, that is), Nate Palan and Firecracker Studios, among others. And in the realm of festivals, Cynthia Burnson of Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons blogged from the band's trip to Austin for the Crustacean Records showcase and other shows at SXSW, while April Williamson explored the inaugural Forward Music Festival and the wealth of top-shelf indie acts it brought to Madison.
Many more fests and competitions came fast and furious throughout the year. TDP provided comprehensive coverage of the tenth Wisconsin Film Festival and seventh Wisconsin Book Festival with reports, interviews, and reviews by numerous contributors. The National Poetry Slam made a big splash in Madison back in August, with Katya Szabados and others reporting on the Madison team, the bouts, and accompanying events like the Nerd Slam, while competitor Kyle "El Guante" Myhre pondered its impact on spoken word in Madison. The Derby in Dairyland regional roller derby tournament followed a couple of months later, with Melissa Faliveno and others reporting on the flat-track action at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in October.
Both team and individual sports were a focus for Jason Joyce, who took a close look at the Madison Mallards through their 2008 season preview and the Northwoods League All-Star Game, as well as provided a local take on the Beijing Olympics with an interview of Matt Tegenkamp shortly after the UW alum ran the fastest 1,500 meter race ever in Wisconsin.
Theater in Madison is a broad and multifaceted affair, appearing both in the structured format of the playhouse as well as every day out on the streets, most famously on Halloween. The action on stage was covered by Amelia Cook, whose live reviews included the controversial My Name is Rachel Corrie and the startling opening night performance of Dancing With My Other by Broom Street. The lively culture of street theater in town was followed by Craig Cady, who shared his thoughts on the costumes at Geek.Kon, the costumes at Freakfest on State Street, and the debauchery of Santarchy over the course of autumn.
The intersection of crafts and online commerce is the subject of an interview series by Megan Larson that queries local Etsy purveyors, such as Pravina Studio, about their work, both creatively and as a business.
Gaming and geek culture was detailed by Zac Shipley, who covered everything from the rise of Rock Band competitions and the success of the locally created online game Chronotron to the invasion of The Zombeatles and the ballyhooed visit to Sundance by B-movie legend Bruce Campbell. Meanwhile, Emily Mills investigated the furor that erupted online after the WisCon feminist science fiction convention became the subject of the mother of all flame wars, at least for a few days. Perhaps more than anything, though, is the central place food and drink holds in the hearts of TDP readers. Linda Falkenstein kept close track of local food news and cheap eats, covering the advent of UW campus area eateries like Five Guys Burgers and Fries and the arrival of the new downtown food carts like Spice Yatra. Unusual eats and unexpected treats was the focus of Kyle Nabilicy, whose exploration of Fringe Foods covered everything from limburger cheese to durian to a Luther Burger served by the Mallards. And Robin Shepard kept on top of the local beer scene, reviewing brews like New Glarus Edel Pils and Furthermore Oscura, and following trends like the revival of pre-Prohibition brews and the return of Schlitz.
Finally, The Daily Page reflected on the passings of folks from Madison and beyond over the last year, including former governor Lee Dreyfus, Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax, East High principal Milt McPike, State Street personality Bob "Cosmo" Hicks, Club 5 founder Ed Grunewald, musician Drew Glackin, graffiti artist Brendan "Solve" Scanlon, and photographer Bob Rashid. Farewell.