Colin Marshall with NPR (left) and Bram Sable-Smith with Wisconsin Public Radio / Wisconsin Watch (center), interview Dr. Angela Gatzke-Plamann at the Necedah Family Medical Center in Necedah, Wisconsin. Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch
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“We don’t have as many resources here, so when I see that there’s a need for something, it’s on me to do something about that.”

That’s what Dr. Angela Gatzke-Plamann told me in her office in Necedah, Wisconsin, in November. She was explaining why she — the only full-time family physician in the central Wisconsin village of 916 people — had taken it upon herself to respond to the opioid epidemic in her community. 

“I couldn’t imagine not doing it, because — then who would?”

Gatzke-Plamann’s seemingly herculean efforts are emblematic of the challenges rural physicians face here in Wisconsin and across the country. They’re also the focus of an upcoming story made in collaboration between Wisconsin Watch, Wisconsin Public Radio, NPR and Kaiser Health News. 

Collaboration is the cornerstone of public journalism. Having four partners will allow us to disseminate this important story widely across the country in text, video, photography and on the radio.

I feel very fortunate to be this year’s Wisconsin Public Radio Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow, embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom. I’ve spent my entire six-year journalism career working in public media newsrooms because I believe down to my bones that stories and information belong to the public, not to any individual reporter or news organization.

Wisconsin Watch embodies that same ethic every day. In addition to housing a Wisconsin Public Radio employee (me!), the Center hosts a fellow from the Cap Times, trains up-and-coming journalists from Wisconsin colleges and universities and makes every story available to republish, free of charge, to hundreds of journalism organizations around the country. 

The future of journalism depends on this type of collaboration between news organizations. As layoffs plague legacy and new media newsrooms alike around the country — and, indeed, across the globe — one way to keep producing strong journalism is to partner in our reporting and share our resources with one another. To inform the public. To hold our leaders accountable. To strengthen our democracy. 

Wisconsin Watch has been committed to these values since launching in 2009 because of the financial support of people like you. Between now and the end of the year you can double the impact of your financial contribution thanks to NewsMatch, a national campaign to encourage grassroots support of the nonprofit news sector. Until Dec. 31, NewsMatch will match any gifts to Wisconsin Watch, up to $1,000 per person.

All contributions to the Center are tax-deductible. Please make a gift today and have it matched!

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, 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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Bram Sable-Smith joined the Center in 2019 as the Wisconsin Public Radio Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow. Before moving to Wisconsin he spent five years reporting on health care at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and as a founding reporter of Side Effects Public Media, a public media reporting collaborative in the Midwest. He also taught radio journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Bram’s contributed stories to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, American Public Media’s Marketplace and Kaiser Health News. His reporting has received two national Edward R. Murrow awards, two national Sigma Delta Chi awards, a health policy award from the Association of Health Care Journalists among others. Bram is a proficient Spanish speaker and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis.