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The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s Failure at the Faucet series, which has exposed problems with the quality of Wisconsin’s drinking water, was among eight Center award recipients announced Friday by the Milwaukee Press Club.

The Center now has won a total of 40 awards since 2011 in the Press Club’s annual Awards for Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism contest, the state’s premiere all-media journalism competition.

The Center’s Failure at the Faucet series, which addresses state water quality and supply issues, including nitrate contamination, won an award for Best Investigative Story or Series from the Milwaukee Press Club.

University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication students, working as paid Center interns or in classroom collaborations with the Center’s staff, played critical roles in many of the award-winning projects. Failure at the Faucet was reported by UW-Madison students and Center staff.

The Center also received recognition for an audio story produced by Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow Bridgit Bowden in collaboration with Wisconsin Public Radio; and reporting, editing and multimedia work by current and former staff members Dee J. Hall, Kate Golden and Bill Lueders, and current or former interns Abigail Becker, Madeleine Behr, Taylor Chase, Tara Golshan and Haley Henschel.

“We’re thrilled that this year’s awards recognize the important work performed by WCIJ’s entire staff and crew of interns, as well as the reporting, data analysis, map-making and innovative multimedia features produced by 11 UW-Madison students and two journalism faculty members who supervised their projects,” said Andy Hall, the Center’s executive director.

“As a result of these efforts, including collaboration with Wisconsin Public Radio through an investigative reporting fellowship, Wisconsin residents are provided with information on critical issues such as drinking water quality, the changing use of solitary confinement in prisons, the reasons behind gun violence, the struggles of Gov. Scott Walker’s job-creation agency and the impacts of frac sand mining on the environment, economy and communities.”

The Center’s coverage of the changing use of solitary confinement in Wisconsin prisons, including Waupun Correctional Institution, has received an award from the Milwaukee Press Club. Lauren Fuhrmann / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

The announcement of whether each award is gold, silver or bronze will come at the awards dinner on May 13.


Best Coverage of a Single News Topic or Event Including Breaking News
Peeking Behind the Bars: Solitary confinement in Wisconsin
Bill Lueders
Dee J. Hall

Best Business Story or Series
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp: What went wrong?
Madeleine Behr
Dee J. Hall
Tara Golshan

Best Investigative Story or Series
Failure at the Faucet: Wisconsin’s drinking water in peril
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism staff and University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication J475 students. Katy Culver, assistant professor in the journalism school, coordinated the project. Ron Seely, a Center editor and reporter, was project editor. Other Center contributors included Kate Golden, Bridgit Bowden, Dee J. Hall, Haley Henschel and Abigail Becker, along with UW-Madison student Katie Kowalsky, who produced maps. The investigative reporting class that participated in Failure at the Faucet was taught by Deborah Blum, a former UW-Madison journalism professor and now director of the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Students in the class were Rachael Lallensack, Gabrielle Menard, Tierney King, Silke Schmidt, Kathi Matthews-Risley, Jane Roberts, Mary Kate McCoy, Elise Bayer and Fern Schultz.

Best Public Service Story or Series
Precious Lives: Kids, guns and how we can stop the violence
Precious Lives Team — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, WUWM, WNOV and 371 Productions. The Center’s contributors included Sean Kirkby, Kate Golden, Dee J. Hall and Bill Lueders.

This gif was one of twelve included in the Center’s animated guide to Wisconsin’s frac sand industry. The Center’s frac sand coverage received an award from the Milwaukee Press Club for Best Use of Multimedia (Online).

Gov. Walker’s stealth government
Dee J. Hall
Tara Golshan
Abigail Becker

Best Series Reporting (Audio)
Precious Lives
Emily Forman
Brad Lichtenstein
Eric Von
Ashley Luthern
Mitch Teich
Dee J. Hall

Best Investigative Report(s) (Audio)
Nitrates Polluting 1 In 5 Private Wells In Wisconsin
Bridgit Bowden

Best Use of Multimedia (Online)
Sand tells the story of the frac sand rush
Taylor Chase
Jacob Berchem
Kate Golden

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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