Column Reaction

A year ago, we began running Mike Nichols’ column every Sunday in the Pioneer Press. The column has been just about everything I’d hoped for — topical, well-written, thought provoking and entertaining. The Pioneer Press has an important — and quite vocal — readership in western Wisconsin. Many of those readers tell us that we don’t do enough Wisconsin news — and given staffing resources and other demands, we probably don’t. But I’ve welcomed the opportunity to now be able to say, “Did you read Mike Nichols’ column on Sunday?”

Thom Fladung, editor of the Pioneer Press

“Mike’s columns are a must read for me, a born and bred Wisconsin guy who needs a regular fix of the Dairyland in D.C.. . . He knows the state’s small towns and how big issues affect us all. . . One of the best journalists you’ll find anywhere.”

Tom Vanden Brook, Pentagon reporter for USA Today

“What a jerk! . . . He’s sick . . .”

A reader in disagreement with a column that defended pork-eaters

I was saddened to read Mike Nichols’ column noting that his column no longer will be appearing in the (Journal Sentinel) Metro section (‘Time to find out what else is out there,’ Aug. 9) I always enjoyed reading what he wrote knowing that he was a true journalist at heart. His columns were well-written, unbiased and they were not campaigns for racism or political agendas. He showed respect for his readers, allowing them to reach their own conclusions. Honest journalism is a dying art. All of us lose when we no longer have the privilege to read what journalists of Mr. Nichols’ caliber write. I am grateful he has the opportunity to write once a week . . . I look forward to that column.”

A reader in a letter to the editor

“The most outstanding columnist the Journal has ever had, ever, and I know ever.”

Pat Graham, a long-time Milwaukee Journal newspaper editor

“Readers turn to Mike’s column in the Journal Sentinel because of his original insights, eye for a good story and old-fashioned, on-the scene reporting. I’m a fan, whether he’s keeping our politicians honest, diving into the day’s hot issue or exploring the lighter side of Wisconsin and its people.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Dave Umhoefer

I still love to sit at the desk; love even more going out and hearing stories, sharing them with others, maybe getting people to think a little. Even when what they think is that I am a “BOOB.”

I put that in capital letters because that’s what the reader did who once sent a copy of a column he didn’t like to (the Journal Sentinel’s ) editor. Next to the word “BOOB,” written in Magic Marker, was an arrow pointing at my head.

I guess Marty Kaiser, a man to whom I am eternally indebted for giving me this job in the first place, got a kick out of that because he passed it along to me, and I put it up on my wall to remind myself that, well, I guess I often am one.

On the other side of the ledger are people like the woman in the parking lot of Piggly Wiggly in Cedarburg just a few weeks ago. I was standing out in front of the grocery store talking to my wife, Jane, on my cell phone, when the woman pulled up in a mini-van.

I didn’t recognize her, had never seen her before in my life so far as I knew. So I thought she was maybe going to ask for directions. Instead, through the open van window, she handed me a note written on the back of a piece of newspaper: “We love your columns!” it said. “Thank you.”

From an August, 2008 column