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House Speaker Paul Ryan will host his first town hall in Racine in over two years. But because Ryan is allowing CNN to organize it, the Racine County Eye is not allowed to attend the event.

This is unusual and disappointing. I have been covering Ryan throughout my 18-year career as a journalist and most recently covered the InSinkerator expansion announcement only a few months ago. To be clear, the decision was made by CNN staffers, not Ryan’s office. However, Ryan’s office chose to have the event organized by CNN.

Richard Hudock, public relations manager for CNN, explained that Racine County Eye would not be able to attend the event, but our competitor the Journal Times and the AP would be able to attend the event.

“Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, there are no on-site media opportunities at the town hall. CNN will provide the transcript in real time and service photos following the event,” he said.

So how can this be defined as a public event when local media are shut out? This is unacceptable.

Racine County Eye is the county’s only free and locally owned news source. We’ve also enjoyed a strong relationship with all politicians over the years. What is difficult to understand is that in the beginning of my career, I recall Ryan traveling to various media companies in his mobile media unit. I covered the Tea Party rallies in Caledonia, the health care rallies at the South Hills Country Club, the RAMAC dinners… so why is Ryan shutting out the local media by choosing to have CNN organize the event?

To make lemonade out of this lemon, we’re hoping that our readership will help us tell the most comprehensive and balanced story possible. So if you are attending the event, feel free to leave your impression of the meeting on our Racine County Eye Facebook page.

The event is set to take place at 8 p.m. Monday at the Racine Theatre Guild, 2519 Northwestern Avenue.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.