Two days before the new president’s inauguration, the Society of Professional Journalists and dozens of other media and government transparency groups sent a letter asking Donald Trump for a meeting to discuss his administration’s relationship with the press. Among other things, the groups wanted Trump to affirm his commitment to the First Amendment, assure media access to his presidential activities, and allow expert government employees to talk to the media rather than muzzle them in favor of public relations officials. Trump has yet to respond. However, the new administration issued orders to employees of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture not to convey information to the media or public. Officials also imposed a news blackout at the Department of Transportation.
Nominations are being sought for the seventh annual Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award, recognizing an individual’s extraordinary contributions to open government or investigative journalism in Wisconsin.
The city of Milwaukee, with more than 70,000 lead service lines, has taken several steps in the past year to lower residents’ exposure to lead in drinking water, but activists say the city has not done enough.
At least three dozen municipal governments and law enforcement agencies say presidential campaigns have ignored hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills stemming from police security for campaign events.
On Sunday, August 14, after a night of unrest prompted by the fatal police shooting of a black man, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said his review of body camera video of the incident proved the officer had acted appropriately. “The individual did turn toward the officer with a firearm in his hand,” Flynn stated, later saying the man, 23-year-old Sylville Smith, “was raising up with” the gun. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said a still photo he was shown from the video “demonstrates, without question, that (Smith) had a gun in his hand.” In fact, Barrett declared, the officer “ordered that individual to drop his gun, the individual did not drop his gun.”
This purportedly exculpatory video itself was not promptly released, despite requests from Barrett and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that this occur. It still has not been released. But we know now that public officials did not give an accurate account of what it shows.
ByMilwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism staff |
For the past two years, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has partnered with other media organizations on Precious Lives, a wide-ranging effort that examined the causes and consequences of gun violence on Milwaukee youth.