Center Digital and Multimedia Director Coburn Dukehart shoots photos for a story about a proposed Kohler company owned golf course at Kohler-Andrae State Park, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on Oct. 11, 2018. Here she photographs Mary Faydash, co-founder of Friends of the Black River Forest. Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
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At the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, truth is our ultimate goal. We are transparent with our subjects and readers, we rigorously fact-check all our information and we share our work with news media across the nation. We feel tremendous pressure to get every detail right.

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Our commitment to ethics and accuracy doesn’t stop with our written journalism either, but also applies to our visual journalism, including our photos, video and data graphics. As a photojournalist, it’s my job to accurately record events as they happen, not alter situations, and present our visuals in an ethical way.

While I often find that photo subjects are tempted to “perform” for the camera, it’s my job to explain that journalists never set up scenes, no matter how small the detail that would be changed. We don’t move items out of the frame. We don’t ask people to pretend or act. We always get names and background information when we can. We always publish photos that are editorially accurate. We are true and fair in our captions, and yes, we fact-check those too.

The result is photojournalism that is honest, emotional and compelling, and which elevates our reporting and storytelling on the web and across the pages of our print partners nationwide. See some of our top photos of 2018 here.

Mia Sato records a Facebook live video at the Watchdog 101 Workshop, prior to the Wisconsin Watchdog Awards at the Madison Club, March 30, 2017. Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Since I started at the Center in 2016, I have brought a trained visual eye to all of the Center’s reports, using our cameras to elevate the storytelling with meaningful portraiture and documentary photojournalism. The result is story pages that are vibrant and rich in visual detail, with photos that complement the depth and breadth of our reporting. Our high quality photojournalism has also helped our stories land on front pages across the state and across websites nationwide.

Photojournalism has played a vital role in our recent series, including Undemocratic: Secrecy and Power vs. The People, Broken Whistle, Countering Concussions, Losing Track and Failure at the Faucet, as well as reports on voting systems in Wisconsin, FoodShare work requirements and a proposed Kohler golf course.

Other recent examples of the Center’s visual storytelling have included photo essays on the lame duck session of the Legislature and of Scott Walker’s election night headquarters. These photos were also published on the website of our partner Wisconsin Public Radio and made available to all media through our public Flickr gallery.

Filmmaker Jim Cricchi films content for Los Lecheros during a people’s hearing at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis., held to lobby legislators to vote against Assembly Bill 190, on Sept. 27, 2017. Opponents argued the bill would encourage discrimination and racial profiling in the state and potentially separate Wisconsin families through deportation. Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

We also put our truth-telling to work in the award-winning documentary “Los Lecheros (Dairy Farmers)” that we co-produced last year with Twelve Letter Films. The film explores rising tensions over undocumented dairy workers since the election of President Donald Trump. We made sure that every scene was captured truthfully and presented accurately in context with the text and audio that accompanied it.

Help us continue this visual truth-telling

It is expensive to outfit a growing staff of visual journalists with cameras and lenses, travel around the state to document stories, and distribute the fact-checked work  — but this is critical to our mission. Can you help us meet this need with a gift?

Between now and Dec. 31, NewsMatch will match your donation to the Center. NewsMatch is a national campaign to encourage grassroots support of the nonprofit news sector. Because the Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Please make a gift today and have it matched!

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You can make a gift securely via credit card here or mail a check to WCIJ, 5006 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave., Madison WI 53706.

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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Coburn Dukehart is an Associate Director at Wisconsin Watch. She joined the organization in 2015 as the Digital and Multimedia Director. She is currently head of product and audience, directs visual and digital strategy; creates visual content; manages digital assets and trains student and professional journalists. Dukehart previously was a senior photo editor at National Geographic, picture and multimedia editor at NPR, and a photo editor at and She has received numerous awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, National Press Photographers Association, Pictures of the Year International and the White House News Photographers Association.