Miller: 'I don't know why they made that decision.'
Last year around this time, when Isthmus editor Marc Eisen stepped down after two decades on the job, Wisconsin State Journal columnist Doug Moe wrote a fine tribute column. It included a few of Eisen's war stories and some kind words about his contributions to Isthmus and Madison.
This week, Moe wrote a similar column, about Capital Times writer Mike Miller, who is retiring after 40 years as one of the city's best and hardest working journalists. Miller was among a dozen reporters who accepted the latest buyout offer from Capital Newspapers ("More Casualties at Capital Newspapers," 9/11/09).
"[Moe's column] was just about my years here and a few anecdotes about those times," Miller told Isthmus today, his last on the job. For instance, he recalled being in the Dane County courthouse on Jan. 15, 1988, when a gunman killed county coroner Bud Chamberlain, along with a woman who happened to be present. Miller was standing right next to Chamberlain within minutes of this crime.
Moe's column was written to run on Thursday, Sept. 10, the morning of the day Miller was feted at the Avenue Bar. It was all written, with a photo taken of Miller by a State Journal photographer. But the column never ran. Instead, the paper published some filler stories with a plug: "Doug Moe's column will return on Friday."
Moe confirms that the column was spiked by State Journal managing editor Teryl Franklin, but declines to publicly say why. He does say the reason, once explained, made sense to him.
"I understood, I really did," says Moe. "Do I wish the column had run? Yes. Do I understand this is an extremely difficult time? Yes."
Franklin did not immediately return a call asking for her perspective. One possible explanation is that she was worried that a column on Miller might cause hard feelings among other former longtime staffers who did not receive similar tributes.
Miller says he has no idea why the column was spiked, but feels bad about it: "I don't know why they made that decision. Maybe I wouldn't feel so bad if there was a justifiable reason."
Sources say Cap Times editor emeritus Dave Zweifel is writing a column about Miller for next week's weekly print edition. And the idea has been floated that Moe's column might be published online by The Cap Times.
That is, if the State Journal allows it.