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I could not have asked for a more invigorating first week on the job as Wisconsin Watch’s investigations editor. The highlight: meeting one of the nation’s most dogged editors — a celebrity and role model for news nerds like me.

That is Rebecca Corbett. She co-leads The New York Times’ investigative team, shaping groundbreaking projects to hold power to account and protect the vulnerable. 

Speaking at a Wisconsin Watch event on Nov. 21 in Milwaukee, Corbett offered behind-the-scenes details of the Times’ 2017 investigation into movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual misconduct and manipulation of employees. The Pulitzer Prize-winning probe set off waves of cultural impact across the U.S., helping to transform conversations about gender and power.

The Weinstein story is as fascinating as it is important. So I was not surprised to see the Milwaukee crowd so rapt as Corbett spoke. She described the thorny ethical questions her team navigated — amid months of meticulous fact-finding and verification — before publishing the blockbuster series. It’s the type of work Wisconsin Watch has pursued for more than a decade.

But during a Q&A portion of the program, I was struck by a few comments. Several attendees — including prominent members of Milwaukee’s community — acknowledged they had not known about how investigative journalists carefully uncover the truth.

If the public doesn’t understand how journalists work, that’s an existential problem — not just for the news industry, but for a democracy that requires trusted watchdogs to properly function. Any confusion about journalism’s role in that balance signals a failure within our industry to explain ourselves.

Jim Malewitz has pursued a career almost exclusively in nonprofit, public affairs journalism — with an eye toward cross-newsroom collaboration. Credit: Courtesy of Katie McMullen

That is why I so eagerly joined the Wisconsin Watch team this month, following a career in nonprofit newsrooms in Iowa, Michigan, Texas and Washington, D.C. Wisconsin Watch has written journalistic transparency straight into its mission.

We go beyond publishing and distributing investigative journalism. We also train the next generation of ethical investigative journalists — all the while explaining how and why we pursue such work. 

Please reach out if you have questions about our reporting or any other service we offer. We are happy to explain more; that is our mission. You can email me at jmalewitz@wisconsinwatch.org or call me at 515-227-8620.

As a nonprofit, we don’t survive on advertisements or online clicks; we depend on contributions from engaged citizens like you.

This is a key time to support our work. We are thrilled to again be a part of NewsMatch, a national campaign to encourage grassroots support for nonprofit news outlets like ours. Until Dec. 31, NewsMatch will match any gifts, up to $1,000 per person. (Bonus: New recurring monthly gifts are added together and counted as an annual donation for the match.) 

An investment in fact-based journalism is an investment in democracy. Any gift will make a difference.

Jim Malewitz

Jim Malewitz joined the Center in 2019 as investigations editor. His role includes editing, managing fellows and interns, facilitating cross-newsroom collaborations and investigative reporting. Jim has worked almost exclusively in nonprofit, public affairs journalism. He most recently reported on the environment for Bridge Magazine in his home state of Michigan, following four years as an energy and investigative reporter for the Texas Tribune. Jim previously covered energy and the environment for Stateline, a nonprofit news service in Washington, D.C. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, POLITICO Magazine and newspapers across the country. Jim majored in political science at Grinnell College in Iowa and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa. There, he was a founding staff member of the nonprofit Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, where he serves on the board of directors.