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Wednesday, November 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 13.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Paper
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Red Card and Mark Tauscher team up to buy Isthmus
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Jeff Haupt, Mark Tauscher and Craig Bartlett have purchased Isthmus.
Credit:Carolyn Fath

At first glance, the above headline appears to be straight out of The Onion. I should know -- I spent 15 years of my life working on America's Finest News Source: 10 owning the rights to The Onion in Colorado and five for Onion Inc. here in Madison. But I assure you, the Red Card meal-plan organization and former Badgers and Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Mark Tauscher really are teaming up to buy Isthmus. We are excited about it and hope you will be too.

I used to be a news junkie. My morning ritual consisted of reading a few local and national publications, but that slowly changed as the "news" companies became more corporate, and journalists and investigative journalism were cut and replaced with someone listening to the local police blotter and reporting it. There's more to the news than someone getting an eighth OWI.

In recent years, I've been just as disgusted with the political climate: Citizens United, gerrymandering and other horrible ideas covered up with a lot of money and great marketing. Don Draper would be an even wealthier man in this environment. I don't have the money to fight this evil marketing machine, but I think I did one better: I am ensuring that a local, independent news organization stays that way. Isthmus has never answered to out-of-town interests, a corporate overlord that pulls the strings (sorry Mitch Henck) or the personal interests of a wealthy few. And with this transition, a great newsman, and founder of Isthmus, has guaranteed it never will.

News is not the only reason I wanted to do this. I also love Madison. I went to school here in the early 1990s and then lived for 10 years in Boulder, Colo. Yes, I miss the mountains, but I will take the lakes, the sense of community, the public schools, the entertainment options, the Badgers and all the other things we love about this place. Isthmus will remain committed to keeping you informed of all the cool events, restaurants and nightlife.

But what about Red Card and Mark Tauscher? Along with Craig Bartlett and Chris Winterhack, I started the Red Card in 2010. We saw a need for parents to have a better way to fund their students' dining needs while they attend school. Over the past four years we have grown to over 4,000 cardholders and 400,000 transactions per year. Last year we started wisgo.com to compete in the increasingly popular online food ordering business. If you are hungry, you should check it out.

In April 2011 we teamed up with UW Athletics to begin feeding the football, volleyball, hockey and basketball teams, and with the new changes to NCAA food regulations, we see an opportunity to help other universities feed their student athletes. In order to expand, we needed someone who knew a few things about college sports and had a few connections there. Thanks to a random run-in at a restaurant over lunch, we found Mark. Not only does he have the aforementioned skills, but he is also a news guy, doing commentary for the Packers and Badgers. You may see a bit more sports content in Isthmus in the coming months. Stay tuned.

That is our story. We hope our commitment to independent journalism and investigative reporting, and our love of all things Madison, will be clear as Isthmus begins this new chapter. Craig, Mark, and I are excited to join a dedicated professional staff, and we look forward to serving the community.

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