The bulk of Tom Bier’s journalism career was spent in the newsroom of WISC-TV, Madison’s CBS affiliate. Starting as a news reporter in 1974, Tom was named WISC-TV news director in 1977, a position he held for 25 years. Tom was then promoted to station manager and served the last three years of his 42-year station tenure as general manager overseeing WISC-TV, Channel 3000 and Madison Magazine operations. Tom has been involved in several journalism organizations including the Radio Television Digital News Association where he served ten years on the RTDNA board including one year as the national organization’s Chairman.
Kathy Bissen is Associate Director and Chief Operating Officer at Wisconsin Public Television and is responsible for the creation and delivery of a wide range of broadcast and digital services for the statewide network. Previously Bissen was Executive Producer of News and Public Affairs at WPT; produced multiple PBS documentaries; launched GET REAL!, a children’s television series that aired on commercial and public broadcasting; co-founded WisContext, a digital news and information service; and was co-director of LZ Lambeau, the largest community engagement event in PBS history. Her work is widely recognized, having earned a National Emmy for a documentary on political advertising, multiple USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Awards for Excellence in Political Journalism, Parents’ Choice Awards, regional Emmys and Edward R. Murrow Awards. During her career, she has reported extensively on science, health, legal, educational and environmental issues.
James “Jim” Burgess grew up in La Crosse and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Madison in 1958. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he interned at several newspapers. He was business and production manager at the Missoula Missoulian and publisher of the Helena Independent Record, both in Montana. He went on to be publisher of the La Crosse Tribune and eventually executive vice president of Lee Enterprises, charged with corporate management and overseeing 19 newspapers from the Midwest to the West Coast. He then served as publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal. He was a member of the Board of Visitors for the College of Letters & Science since 1997, and was a member of the School of Journalism & Mass Communications Board of Visitors as well. He served on and chaired a number of other boards, including Edgewood College, the Madison Community Foundation, the Madison Chamber of Commerce, Meriter Hospital, the UW Medical Foundation and the Overture Foundation. In 2005, Burgess was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association. That year, he also endowed Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics. Read a remembrance of Jim here.
Scott Cohn is an internationally recognized reporter, and an alumnus of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Based in northern California, Cohn serves as a special correspondent for CNBC. He also reports for NBC News, MSNBC, Public Television’s Nightly Business Report, and the American Public Media program Marketplace. In 2014, he founded Twiddlewater Media Ltd., a full-service news production and consulting firm. He assumed his current role after more than 25 years as a reporter for CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989 and eventually rising to Senior Correspondent. He has also worked as a reporter and anchor for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, WEAU-TV in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Public Radio.
Rick Fetherston graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and law. He was a television journalist for 22 years before leading the corporate communications division at American Family Insurance for 22 years, retiring as senior vice president and a member of the senior leadership team. He served on the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics authority board of directors from 2011-2014. Rick and his wife Judy A. Fetherston, a registered nurse, have been married since 1975 and have raised three sons.
PETER D. FOX
Peter Fox has more than 35 years’ experience in communications. He is executive director of the Park County Community Foundation in Livingston, MT. He holds bachelors and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fox spent 24 years in newspapers in Wisconsin and Montana, including nine years as editor of The Journal Times in Racine. Subsequently, he served as director of public information for the UW System Administration, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Employment Relations, and as executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. He is a recipient of the SJMC “Distinguished Service Award” and the WNA “Distinguished Service Award for Contributions to Wisconsin Newspapers” for “… his relentless advocacy to ensure public access to government records and meetings.”
Brent Jones joined The Wall Street Journal as assistant managing editor for training and outreach in February 2018. His newsroom experience spans more than 20 years and includes overseeing newsroom standards and ethics; journalism training and recruitment work; college partnerships; and running a year-round newsroom intern program. Prior to joining the Journal, Brent was head of standards and ethics for the USA TODAY Network’s flagship publication and 109 local newsrooms. As head of standards and ethics for USA TODAY’ Network’s flagship newsroom, he created, produced and hosted the publication’s first media ethics podcast called Off the Record, a monthly program that focused on ethical considerations behind news coverage. Jones’s body of work underscores a commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as a passion for coaching and mentoring young newsroom talent. His development and management of USA TODAY’s robust, year-round internship program served as a template for USA TODAY Network’s enterprise student programming strategy. Jones frequently speaks on career forums and serves on the board of advisers for The Trust Project, Power Shift Project and the advisory committee on the future of Online News Association. USA TODAY Network recognition includes the 2005 All-Star Enterprise Award; the Chairman’s Award; and the company’s 2010 and 2016 Individual Leadership Diversity awards. He is a member of the Online News Association and the National Association of Black Journalists, where he served as a past vice president of NABJ’s Washington, D.C., chapter.
JACK W. MITCHELL
Jack W. Mitchell joined the School of Journalism & Mass Communication faculty in January 1998 after a 30-year career in public radio. He was the first employee of National Public Radio and the first producer of its seminal program “All Things Considered.” During his 21 years as head of Wisconsin Public Radio, he served 12 years on the NPR board, three as chairman. He is author of Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio in and Wisconsin on the Air: 100 Years of Public Broadcasting in the State that Invented It. In December 2009, Mitchell moved to emeritus status.
John Smalley has been editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, WI, since December 2008. Prior to that he was editor of the La Crosse Tribune from 2002-2008. The State Journal is a 90,000-circulation daily with a newsroom staff of about 65. In La Crosse, Smalley led a staff of about 45 at the Tribune, a 30,000-daily circulation. Smalley returned to La Crosse after serving as editor of the Mason City Globe Gazette in Iowa from 1997-2002. Smalley was born and raised in Evansville, WI, and is a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse graduate. He and his wife, Barbara, have four grown children and live in Verona, WI.
Working independently and with a national firm, Carol Toussaint has advised nonprofit organizations on public policy issues and fund development strategies. She has extensive experience working with corporate and community foundations as an executive director, consultant and volunteer. Her state government experience includes heading an executive branch agency, directing the Strategic Development Commission and leading an economic impact study of the nonprofits arts. Active in community organizations, Toussaint also operates a lecture business in Madison. The recipient of the Distinguished Alumna award from the School of Journalism and the Wisconsin Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award, Toussaint is one of the original board members of the Center for Journalism Ethics.
Richard Vitkus has more than forty years of broad legal and corporate experience: twelve years with a major Chicago law firm in a wide ranging commercial practice; two years as International Counsel and eight years as General Counsel of Beatrice Foods; and a series of General Counsel positions in both public and private corporations. He has extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions, and a breadth of knowledge dealing with boards of directors, takeovers, bankruptcies and international matters. Vitkus currently serves on the advisory board for litigation management company Drystone Capital Corporation of Washington, D.C., and as a director for not-for-profit legal services enterprise Chicago Appleseed, and for Creative Occasions, Inc., a Nashville-based wholesale bakery business. Vitkus spent 12 years as a partner at Winston & Strawn, a major Chicago law firm with a broad commercial practice. Richard holds a bachelors degree from UW-Madison and law degree from the University of Michigan. He was an active duty officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1961 to 1963.
Editor Emeritus Dave Zweifel has been with The Capital Times since he graduated from UW-Madison School of Journalism in 1962, serving as the paper’s editor in chief from 1983 to 2008. He was president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council for 15 years, served as a Pulitzer Prize judge in 2000 and 2001 and named to the Wisconsin Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Milwaukee Press Club’s HOF in 2014. A native of New Glarus, WI, where he grew up on a farm, he serves on several non-profit boards and is a military veteran, having served on active duty as a field artillery officer in the early 1960s and for 26 years in the Wisconsin Army National Guard where he retired as a colonel in 1993.