Investigative and longform stories
Hi, I'm John.
I'm a freelance journalist in Green Bay, Wisconsin who writes about environmental issues, business developments, local government, community issues, music, art, and politics.
I have reported on breaking labor news, the politics of a prominent Midwest gas station chain, the intimacy of food in the face of a global pandemic, and interviewed multiple New York Times Bestselling authors.
In 2021, I founded The NEWcomer, an independent news project covering politics, arts, and culture in Northeastern Wisconsin. Stories can be seen at thenewcomerwi.substack.com.
I enjoy finding odd facts, digging through public records, and gathering important details to provide a clear picture of a story.
My work has appeared in The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, The Capital Times, In These Times, Great Lakes Now - Detroit Public Television, Belt Magazine, Loudwire, Bandcamp Daily, Milwaukee Record, Tone Madison, and The Press Times.
Apart from my reporting experience, I have over four years of grant writing experience with successful grant applications totaling over $400,000 in received funding and with single sum awards over $70,000. If you are interested in seeing examples of my grant writing or curious about my rates, please email - [email protected]
Thanks for stopping by.
Investigative and longform stories
On first attempt to reach Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Research Biologist David Fielder, he wasn't monitoring fish populations or water quality. He was busy with a perch basket lunch.
A Wisconsin State Park bordering the shoreline of Lake Michigan is teeming with dunes, preserved wetlands and protected plant species. It's a great view - making it an ideal neighbor for a new golf resort that one of the state's manufacturing giants has been fighting for years to build.
Craig Koller grew up splashing through backyard creeks and biking gravel trails, sometimes through the Johnson Controls International Fire Technology Center. Black smoke wafted overhead as it conducted controlled burns to test firefighting foam, producing a dangerous "forever chemical" known as PFAS.
When rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, military veterans, government officials, and law enforcement were among those seen on display in videos and photos circulating across social media. The insurrection called attention to the presence of right wing extremism in government.
Restaurants have been juggling how to respond to disturbances on top of the added stress of sanitization to slow the spread of COVID-19.
An end to the pandemic is within sight, but in the meantime, cold weather, isolation, and already-strained public health infrastructure will converge in the state this winter.
From conception to estimated completion, the South Bridge Connector project in De Pere will take upwards of 64 years to finish, and at this point in time there are questions still to be answered.
BROWN COUNTY - In the past, district maps described as a “squid with lots of tentacles” would be easily identifiable as gerrymandered. “It used to be ‘I know gerrymandering when I see it,’” said Jonathon Dunbar, an associate professor of mathematics at St. Norbert College. Given the complexity of map drawing, Dunbar said shape is not always a good indicator for malfeasance. “There may be a very good reason why a district is drawn to have these tentacles,” he said.
As Wisconsin's right-wing convenience store empire expands, what happens to contraception access?
BROWN COUNTY - In November, Pieter deHart and his family moved a couple of miles south from New Franken to a home on Bellevue's far-east side. The only thing they didn't bring with them was high-speed broadband.
The plan for a new distribution center imperils the future of Milwaukee Street, just as the retail giant's labor practices reach new lows.
Anti-carceral activists turn their attention to the state's long-running "Prison Industries" program.
John McCracken contributed additional reporting for this story.
By John McCracken Correspondent GREEN BAY - BayCare Aurora, Green Bay's largest taxpayer, has dropped a 2020 lawsuit against the city alleging improper tax assessment for 2020 property taxes. The suit was initially filed in August 2020, alleging a difference of almost $73 million in prope
GREEN BAY - The City of Green Bay is being sued by its largest taxpayer claiming a wrongful 2020 property tax assessment, based on a difference of almost $73 million in property value.
GREEN BAY – The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, better known as Amtrak, recently released its vision to expand into 160 different communities around the country, including Green Bay. Amtrak’s proposal would provide new passenger rail services for Green Bay, Madison and Eau Claire with regional expansions into the Twin Cities, Duluth, Minnesota and Rockford, Illinois.
Laura Schley is the only paid staff member at the City of Green Bay’s Public Art Commission (GBPAC), a division of the community and economic development department. A single full-time employee devoted to public arts in Wisconsin’s third largest city is not uncommon.
BELLEVUE - The village board approved an apartment complex expansion project in southwest Bellevue last month.
BELLEVUE - Bellevue residents expressed concerns over how hybrid assessments are determined for upcoming construction on Manitowoc Road at the Feb. 24 village board meeting.
BROWN COUNTY - Northeast Wisconsin is home to numerous agricultural systems, and one community advocate is set on mapping these for stakeholders.
GREEN BAY - To Joy Bashara, there's no such thing as bad weather - just bad clothes. The retired teacher and Green Bay resident is the president of the city's local Sons of Norway chapter, Grønnvik 632.
GREEN BAY - First, schools are closed and shift to virtual learning as a contagious virus spreads. Next, jobs are lost or pay is reduced. Finally, child care is closed and the future is suddenly cloudy. This story is familiar for parents across the Green Bay Area Public School District, but for refugee parents, there is a language barrier when trying to get information from teachers or administrators.
BROWN COUNTY - "We opened in the middle of August,” said local beer connoisseur Nick Calaway with a slight laugh. “The whole project had been underway for several years and there was no stopping it.” The project was the construction of a new, 16-line taproom and brewery with 18-foot-tall ceilings for Ahnapee Brewery in Suamico, the second location for the Algoma-based brewery.
GREEN BAY - Local restaurants have relied on customers ordering food with a single click from the comfort of their couches throughout the pandemic, but not without a few technical glitches.
Randy Styczynski inherited a few young calves from his grandparents when he was a junior at Green Bay Southwest High School in 1979. His grandparents sold off their milking herd and Styczysnki began to purchase more cattle. He took over operations and was milking a small head of eight dairy cows in the following spring. Come early 2021, Styczynski is retiring as the last operating dairy farm in the Village of Suamico.
A mathematician, photographer and political scientist walk into Neville Public Museum after hours, each bringing a unique conversation, and anyone with an internet connection can watch. STEAM Engine is a local organization providing interactive
As the Green Bay Packers look to climb the NFC North Division rankings, another ruthless offense is making its way to the top of an unsavory list - rats.
Green Bay is approximately 6 percent below the national average for undergraduate degrees produced, according to the most recent Census data. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leaders in the field are hopeful to bridge that higher education gap.
GREEN BAY - Local youth ages 8 and older can soon go head-to-head without meeting face-to-face thanks to Green Bay's Parks, Recreation and Forestry's Esports program, launching next year.
BROWN COUNTY - Thanks to a mostly mild winter up to this point, Brown County parks have seen an uptick in visitors using the trail system.
The downtown record store calls it quits after 23 years.
Zombie shark, bubblegum octopus, data pagan—the names of cybergrind artists could easily be characters from a now-defunct Konami or Square Enix franchise. Cybergrind, a wild mix of squealing digital production paired with guttural vocals from fleshy humans, is just as rooted in the work of ‘90s electro-grinders like Agoraphobic Nosebleed, The Berzerker, Catasexual Urge Motivation, and The Locust, as it is the colorful world of old-school video games.
Stalwart Wisconsin DIY musician Amos Pitsch (best known for his work in Tenement and Dusk and more recently his solo records) finds that the personal remnants of used media allow him to peer deep into former owners’ psyches.
The Madison band talks with us about "Imposter Syndrome," released on June 4.
The world of dinosaur tribute videos has been unearthed and these oddities feature nostalgia drenched 2000s rock hits. An unlikely pairing, these lengthy videos pay homage to beasts and songs of a forgotten time.
A strange journey to Geeks Mania and the heart of the WJJO Sound Lounge.
We crunched the numbers on WJJO's weirdly repetitive stage.
100 Gecs is an electronic music duo created by DJs and producers Dylan Brady and Laura Les. Besides that, nothing about 100 Gecs makes any sense.
Beginning in a Chicago college dorm in the late 2000s, the story of Ratboys is a familiar one: Members meeting early in their school years, releasing sparse demos and EPs, and formulating a sound of their own in a sea of indie hyphen everything. The result of that is a calculated indie-rock sound where a penchant for precision meets an affinity for deeply personal songwriting.
Hailing from Oldham County, Kentucky, Knocked Loose has continually set and often exceeded the bar for hardcore since its 2013 inception, touring nonstop and capturing a powerfully distilled anger on its 2016 debut LP, Laugh Tracks. Their 2019 follow-up, A Different Shade Of Blue, will be looked at as a pivotal moment for the hardcore genre in the coming years.
Opinion, personal essays, and oddities
Exploring far-flung flavor variations with musician Nick Davies.
The love language of food perseveres in a crisis.
"The one thing about this particular medium is that even though it's grotesque and repulsive, there's something of beauty within if you look hard enough. That's what we see on the tables here."
This year's Go Big Read selection only further poisons the discourse about rural decline.
An aversion to politics talk causes a Madison musicians Facebook group to implode.
The author joins us to discuss and read from her debut novel, "Mostly Dead Things."
The fiction writer and current UW-Madison fellow discusses her work and reads from a new short story.
The Madison-based writer joins us to discuss her new book, "The Immortalists."
The poet discusses his work in an interview co-produced with The Adroit Journal.
The Madison-based author discusses her multi-faceted writing life and reads from her novel "Bread And Butter."
The Madison-based poet discusses and reads from his debut collection, "Trouble The Water."
Fundraising and audience engagement
Is it ok if I call you that? To Tone Madison, you are so much more. You're an inquisitor, listener, audience member, mourning show-goer, art-lover, public-commenter, thought-provoker, brick-thrower, gut-buster, retweeter, whistleblower, cheerleader, and that's not even the half of it. To us, you are a lifeline. You are a source of love and sustainability.
Just for Tone Madison Sustainers, here's a look behind the scenes with the authors. These were gathered together to showcase the variety of perspectives involved in Tone Madison and the care that we take when reporting on the Madison community.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, all gifts in support of FAM received by September 1 will be matched up to $25,000! Would you consider making your second gift today?
The landscape of local music and events has changed. Tone Madison hasn't skipped a beat.
Email marketing piece sent to promote an annual fundraising and music event for an independent, local news outlet in Madison, WI.