June 7, 2013

Investigative Reporters and Editors board calls for Wisconsin lawmakers to halt action against Center

Reprinted with permission from ire.org.

Statement of the IRE Board of Directors

Since its launch four years ago, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has distinguished itself as a vital public-interest voice, producing original, hard-hitting reporting that has been published in more than 230 news outlets reaching more than 25 million people.

It is an extraordinary accomplishment for a small, non-profit newsroom created to revitalize in-depth reporting in the state, enrich public debate and better inform citizens at a time when investigative reporting faces ever increasing economic challenges.

Links to all of the Center’s posts on Motion 999

Center’s possible eviction from UW: Summary and resources Posted June 5, updated as needed
Lawmakers’ attempt to evict Center arouses national controversy Reactions to the June 5 vote, and links to news coverage and editorials from across the country. June 6, 2013
WCIJ Board of Directors statement on the Joint Finance Committee proposal to evict the Center from the UW June 11, 2013
Simpson Street Free Press stands with WCIJ June 11, 2013
‘Petty, vindictive, dumb’: Conservative host Charlie Sykes defends the Center June 6, 2013

Links to media coverage of this issue

See the Center’s list of news stories and editorials.

About IRE: Investigative Reporters and Editors is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources. It is the main professional organization for U.S. investigative journalists.

IRE provides members access to thousands of reporting tip sheets and other materials through its resource center and hosts conferences and specialized training throughout the country.

A surprise move this week by the Wisconsin legislature to remove the Center from its offices at the University of Wisconsin and ban any employees of the university from working with its journalists is misguided and dangerous.

Beyond the impact of the stories it tells, the Center stands as a unique training ground for a new generation of young reporters learning the skills of investigative journalism under the guidance of executive director and former IRE Board member, Andy Hall. Targeting such work is indefensible.

The Center’s mission is to facilitate a vibrant democracy, to educate readers and viewers on matters of public policy and to inspire engagement in the very political process — principles that legislators should instinctively share and defend.

Stories done by the center have led to meaningful change and societal improvement, and legislators’ efforts to undermine such work are mysterious and unsettling.

Investigative Reporters and Editors calls on lawmakers in Wisconsin to reconsider.

For more information, contact IRE Executive Director Mark Horvit at 573-882-1984 or mhorvit@ire.org. If you’d like to send this statement to a lawmaker, you can download a pdf version here.

More support today:
• The Wisconsin Newspaper Association also called on legislators to repeal provisions affecting WCIJ from the state budget. “The nonpartisan Center continues to emerge as a national model for watchdog journalism, and will persist regardless of a physical presence in the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communications,” the organization wrote. Read the entire statement on WNAnews.com.
• The board of Local Independent Online News Publishers expressed its concern and said, “LION Publishers considers Hall and his team to be an exemplar of a beneficial collaboration between a journalism school and an independent news organization.”

The Center collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

  • Jan

    Journalists should not have such a cozy relationship with a government entity such as a public university. No freebies should be taken or accepted. Why not let other entities get free rent on campus?