Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lefty Bloggers Take Note: UW System Gets Some Well-Deserved Praise

I didn't believe it until I saw it, but the University of Wisconsin System is actually getting some decently good press today.

The Journal-Sentinel is running a story (albeit, on the 3rd page of the Metro section) that praises the system for meeting some significant benchmarks set forth by former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson over a decade ago.

One of the big points that jumped out at me is that the UW System is currently educating 1 out of every 3 graduates from a Wisconsin high school--a percentage higher than the benchmark called for by Thompson.

That's a pretty impressive percentage considering it doesn't include the all of the Wisconsin high school grads who attend state technical colleges, nor does it take into account all of the parents who prefer (and have the money) to send their kids to private colleges.

These are the types of stories that need to be highlighted more often by liberals. Part of the reason the so-called "taxpayer revolt" has been so successful in some areas is that it capitalizes on the fact that public services often don't make the news unless it's for a negative reason.

The sex scandal case of Paul Barrows was front-page news for weeks while the fact that the UW System is educating 33% of all Wisconsin high school graduates is a single page-B3 story. Critics argue that the positive stuff is all indicative of what the UW System and other public agencies are supposed to be doing, so it's not really newsworthy.

However, there is an undoubtedly significant connection between public perception and public policymaking. The fact of the matter is that only emphasizing the negatives will erode the public confidence in public services and subsequently lead to the dismantling of those public services through policies influenced by the one-sided media coverage.

The rising influence of blogs gives us the opportunity to level the playing field when it comes to media coverage of public services. That's a big part of playing political offense--something the Dems still haven't mastered in the midst of the well-oiled conservative movement of the past quarter-plus century.

To be honest, most of our blog posts on the left are about responding to attacks, not proudly highlighting successes. If we ever hope to return Wisconsin to its solidly progressive roots, this needs to change.

While conservatives continue to go about largely bashing our public services in Wisconsin, we need to not only defend those services but also actively praise them.

It's time to be patriotic about the Badger State.

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