The Oshkosh edition of the SCENE was launched in February 2012. It was part of a general expansion of the SCENE. The paper had started with a single edition based in Appleton, but was looking to produce local editions in a number of Northeast Wisconsin communities. Oshkosh was one of those cities that would have a local SCENE. Justin Mitchell became its editor.
I was fairly typical of the sort of person Justin asked to contribute to the new SCENE. Prior to the paper being launched, I had been writing regularly on this blog about a slice of Oshkosh culture that was largely ignored by media here. The other contributors Justin recruited were less idiosyncratic, but were similar in the sense that they were interested in reporting Oshkosh stories that weren’t being told anywhere else.
It seemed to work well. Once the Oshkosh SCENE gained its footing, it became a much more interesting paper than the one previously sent to us from Appleton. Those editions typically contained little or no Oshkosh content. The new paper was dominated by Oshkosh news.
From the outside it looked as though things were going well. From the start, though, there were problems. The tipping point came last fall when Justin Mitchell resigned as editor. In an email sent to contributors Justin wrote, “The direction of the paper as directed by ownership, and the lack of follow-through in many areas by ownership, has continued to worsen.” When Justin left, most of the Oshkosh SCENE’s contributors went with him.
Shortly after Justin’s resignation I received an email from James Moran, publisher of the SCENE newspapers. He informed me that the SCENE was interested in “promoting” my column by running it in all of the paper’s publications starting in January. That sealed the deal for me. The last thing I wanted was to write a generic beer column aimed at communities I have little knowledge of. I want to write about the peculiar culture of beer as it exists in Oshkosh. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do with any of this.
January’s “Greater Oshkosh Edition” of the SCENE is now available. The paper looks much like it did prior to 2012. Aside from a few local ads and a threadbare events calendar, it’s nearly devoid of Oshkosh content. That void won’t remain for long.
Beginning in February, a new Oshkosh publication named the Oshkosh Independent will go online. Launched by Justin Mitchell, many of the former writers for the Oshkosh SCENE, myself included, will be a part of it. The emphasis will be on community-based journalism with Oshkosh as its focus.
When we go live, I’ll make mention of it here. Until then you can visit the Oshkosh Independent Facebook page HERE and the splash page for the coming website HERE. Stay tuned, I think this could be good...