August 1, 2013

Evjue Foundation steps up with largest gift from a Wisconsin donor

The Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of The Capital Times, has awarded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism a major grant to support its award-winning investigative reporting and training of young journalists.

The $20,000 gift is the largest single donation received from a Wisconsin donor since WCIJ began operating in 2009.

“This generous donation will strengthen the Center’s efforts to hold the powerful accountable for their actions and to train the next generation of investigative journalists,” said Andy Hall, the Center’s founder and executive director.

“Our staff, board of directors and hard-working student interns thank the Evjue Foundation for helping to sustain our high-impact work.”

The Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan news organization, is housed in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  Under a facilities use agreement, WCIJ collaborates with the school’s students and faculty and hires paid interns who work with its professional staff to produce investigative reports that are distributed for free to news outlets across the state and nation.

WCIJ also collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television and news organizations across the nation, to shine a light on government integrity and quality of life issues including the environment, education, justice system, economy and health.

“The work performed by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism would have pleased the namesake of the Evjue Foundation, William T. Evjue, the late founder and longtime editor and publisher of The Capital Times,” said Dave Zweifel, an Evjue Foundation board member and editor emeritus of The Capital Times.

“No one was a bigger advocate of the watchdog role that an effective press must play if America’s democracy is to work effectively. In a time of limited resources and changing roles in the news industry, the WCIJ has stepped in to maintain that crucial watchdog role. In the name of its founder, the Evjue Foundation is pleased to help.”

The foundation has supported WCIJ every year since 2009.

In addition to the Evjue Foundation, major supporters of WCIJ include Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, based in Oklahoma; Open Society Foundations and Ford Foundation, based in New York; and The Joyce Foundation and McCormick Foundation, based in Illinois. The Center also is supported by more than 95 individual or corporate donors and sponsors.

WCIJ is a national leader in development of ethics and financial transparency standards for nonprofit newsrooms. Under the Center’s policy, financial supporters have no voice in news coverage decisions, and all sources of financial support are voluntarily disclosed, to protect the integrity of the news coverage.

The Center has produced more than 125 major reports and more than 105 Money and Politics columns that have been published or cited by more than 230 news organizations. Its coverage has reached an estimated audience of more than 30 million.

WCIJ’s reports have received 17 Milwaukee Press Club awards and twice have been named as finalists in the student category of Investigative Reporters and Editors awards. Last year the Associated Press Media Editors named WCIJ and the journalism school the first recipients of its Innovator of the Year for College Students award.

The Evjue Foundation made the WCIJ gift public on June 5 — the same day that Wisconsin legislators unveiled a measure, eventually approved by the full Legislature, that would have evicted the Center from its campus offices and barred UW employees from working with the Center in any way related to their job duties.

Gov. Scott Walker vetoed the measure on June 30, allowing the Center’s work to continue unfettered, after the WCIJ-journalism school collaboration received a torrent of support from students, journalists, educators and members of the public from across the nation.

WCIJ celebrated the veto by announcing the launch of the WCIJ Education Fund to sustain and strengthen its training of student journalists. To learn more about donating, please visit http://wisconsinwatch.org/about/donations/. WCIJ is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.