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Learn to unlock the secrets of Wisconsin’s government at the Midwest Watchdog Workshop. Kate Golden / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Link: Register for this event

Midwest Watchdog Workshop, April 8-9

Journalists, students and the public are invited for an innovative workshop at the University of Wisconsin-Madison focusing on investigative reporting techniques to hold the powerful accountable.

The Midwest Watchdog Workshop will feature more than 40 panelists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporters Walt Bogdanich and Stephanie Saul; award-winning investigative broadcast journalists Lea Thompson and Kathleen Johnston; and other leading figures from across the Midwest and nation.

The event will be held April 8 and 9 at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. It is being presented by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Sessions will focus on skills such as interviewing, obtaining public records, data analysis (hands-on training on Excel), covering beats, quick hits, source development, using social media, free newsroom tools, organizing a project, writing, multimedia storytelling, podcasting, editing and fact-checking. A featured panel will explore “Watchdogs’ common interests – What can journalists, activists and the public learn from each other?”

A highlight of the conference is the fifth annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards reception and dinner, a celebration of open government and investigative reporting, (separate $55 ticket) on April 8 at the Pyle Center. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative health reporter Meg Kissinger, who has tirelessly exposed flaws in the mental health system, will receive the annual Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award. Winners of the Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award and Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council’s annual Opee Awards will be honored, and a panel of top journalists will discuss, “Investigative reporting vs. Government secrecy: Who’s winning and why.”

Details and registration for the Midwest Watchdog Workshop and Wisconsin Watchdog Awards are available here.

Rather than restricting attendance to journalists, as has traditionally been the practice with investigative reporting events, workshop leaders welcome the involvement of members of the public with interests in monitoring the actions of people in power, distributing findings and fostering an informed citizenry. Students (high school as well as collegiate) also are invited.

Low registration fees are made possible through the generosity of sponsors, including Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Evjue Foundation, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, Gannett Wisconsin Media, Wisconsin State Journal, Schott Bublitz & Engel law firm, MacIver Institute, McGillivray Westerberg & Bender law firm, UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, Madison Pro Chapter of Society of Professional Journalists, WORT 89.9 FM, Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and Simpson Street Free Press. Additional sponsorships are available.

Workshop fees for the full two days are $50 for professional journalists, $25 for students (scholarships available), and $100 for the public.

The optional Computer-Assisted Reporting hands-on session — three hours of training on Excel on April 9 — costs just $10. Laptops are provided.

All participants will receive lunch on April 8, and a one-year IRE membership ($70 value) is included for professional journalists and students.

If you have questions about sponsorships, scholarships or the events, please contact Andy Hall, WCIJ executive director, at

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( 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.

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