While talk radio across the state is dominated by conservative voices and many of the state's largest newspapers regularly support Republicans for office, a number of conservative groups here nonetheless are working to push local media to the right or to supplant it entirely.
Some of the groups are patently political, while at least one abides by traditional rules of journalism. Most are backed by the same wealthy conservative organization in Milwaukee.
"We are a free-market organization," says Matt Kittle, bureau chief of Wisconsin Reporter, a news service founded at the end of 2010. "We investigate and we are watchdogs of waste, fraud and abuse."
Kittle works out of a tiny, nameless office in a building on North Henry Street, two blocks from the state Capitol. The modest setting belies the powerful institutional backing that Wisconsin Reporter enjoys. Like scores of other news outlets popping up around the country, WR is funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a conservative, Virginia-based group that describes its mission as "filling the void created as the nation's newspapers cut back on statehouse news coverage."
...noted media blogger Jim Romenesko posted an account of a Madison reporter who applied for a job at Wisconsin Reporter, only to find that the application — from a job recruitment agency — included such questions as, "Do higher taxes lead to balanced budgets?" and "Name a good education reform idea that Wisconsin should consider."
Are they too going to claim to be "fair and balanced"?