For more than two centuries, governments in this country have paid newspapers to publish public notices about the actions of government. But now, Wisconsin state legislators are circulating a pair of bills, AB70 and SB42, that aim to take public notices out of newspapers and put them instead on government websites. It’s a bad idea that would harm transparency, democracy and public trust. Without a third-party, independent source providing the information, there is no accountability, no checks and balances to make sure that government is posting all the public notices it is required by law to post. Most Wisconsin residents continue to rely on the printed newspaper for information about their local elected governments, as they have for decades.
Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism are pleased to announce Alexandra Hall has been named the 2017 Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow. During the one-year fellowship, Hall will work collaboratively with WPR and WCIJ to deepen her skills in investigative journalism, editing and on-air radio production.
Register: Online registration for the 2017 Wisconsin Watchdog Awards reception and dinner
When: Thursday, March 30, 5 p.m. reception and 6 p.m. dinner
Where: The Madison Club, 5 E. Wilson St. Ticket price: $60. Proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, participation of young journalists in the event and a special investigative reporting workshop. Gilman Halsted, a retired Wisconsin Public Radio reporter who produced award-winning examinations of the state’s criminal justice system, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award. Over the course of two decades, Halsted became a familiar voice to WPR listeners, working for six years in the Wausau bureau before moving to Madison in 2000.
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.
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.