Editor's Views: Reporter Marcia Nelesen takes her talents in new direction

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Scott Angus
Saturday, June 7, 2014

Marcia Nelesen's desk sits just outside my office door. It has for years.

When she's on the phone, I can hear her side of the conversation. I routinely stop what I'm doing and listen. Often, I sit back and smile, pleased that Marcia once again is holding a newsmaker accountable.

Reporters must be firm, and Marcia is that. She's also calm, courteous and even pleasant, but the questions keep coming until she has what she needs or is convinced it can't be had.

Marcia has been asking questions and writing stories for The Gazette for 34 years. She started a year after I did, and we've been working side by side since. My admiration for her work has grown with the years.

For the last 16 years, she's been on the City Hall beat, covering everything from marathon budget sessions to controversial decisions on new buildings to petitions to change how city government works. Before this assignment, she wrote obituaries, did food features, covered education and deftly handled anything else that came her way.

Marcia has always been a good reporter, but she came into her own on the city beat. Her experience and savvy helped her sort through complicated issues and pick her spots and stories. Her maturity helped her handle the relentless demands and pressure that come with one of the paper's highest-profile positions.

City government is a critical coverage area for The Gazette because news breaks continually and decisions directly affect the services and taxes of many of our readers. Marcia has been a strong communicator and watchdog for the people of Janesville.

For a good example, look back only a few months to the city's decision-making on the new fire station. Key decisions were inappropriately made behind closed doors, and Marcia went after city officials until she got the information that the public deserved. Many residents whose homes will be sacrificed for the project first learned of their fates through Marcia and The Gazette.

Marcia is leaving the city beat, but she's not leaving us entirely. She's cutting back to 10 hours a week, and she'll be free to do whatever stories suit her fancy. She would have preferred that years ago, but we needed her at City Hall. We've now found a way to make this work, and we're sliding Neil Johnson, who previously covered Milton and Edgerton, into the city job. A new reporter, recent UW-Whitewater graduate Andrea Behling, will take over Milton and Edgerton.

Among Marcia's strengths as a reporter are her broad interests, wide knowledge of the community and many sources. Those served her well in her old job. They'll be at least as valuable in her new position and possibly more because she'll have the freedom to go wherever a good story leads her.

We'll miss Marcia's determined approach to covering city news, but we look forward to the stories she'll bring with more flexibility and a fresh outlook.

Scott W. Angus is editor of The Gazette and vice president of news for Bliss Communications. His email is sangus@gazettextra.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @sangus_.

Last updated: 9:25 am Saturday, June 7, 2014

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