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Wisconsin Watch is seeking an investigative reporter to focus on the Wisconsin state Legislature, governor’s office, state agencies and Supreme Court in a deeply polarized state where democracy itself is in peril.

This position is ideal for a relentless reporter who knows how to navigate bureaucracies to uncover the effects of state legislation, policies and laws on the lives of people in Wisconsin. The coverage will amplify the voices of underserved residents and expose efforts to weaken democracy in the state through government secrecy, power grabs, disinformation and other strategies. 

This reporter will launch Wisconsin Watch’s first-ever statehouse bureau. We plan to add at least one more reporter to the bureau in coming months if funding allows. Strategic partnerships with other Wisconsin news organizations, built upon more than a decade of collaboration, will provide the reporter with insights to inform and increase the impact of our journalism.

Start date for the position is negotiable, although we would love to have someone in place in January 2022. Salary is $60,000 to $70,000, commensurate with skills and experience. 

Wisconsin Watch is the news outlet of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, a nonpartisan, independent nonprofit with offices at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication, roughly 1 mile from the state Capitol. 

Our mission is “to increase the quality, quantity and understanding of investigative journalism to foster an informed citizenry and strengthen democracy.”

Our multimedia journalism digs into undercovered issues, documents broken and failing systems, puts findings into regional and national contexts and explores potential solutions. We aim to spark impact that improves people’s lives and holds power to account.

Wisconsin Watch also trains current and future investigative journalists and entrepreneurs through workshops, internships and fellowships, mentoring and collaborations with journalism classes and news organizations. And we share information about journalistic practices, ethics and impact with the public. 

Our guiding values: Protect the vulnerable. Expose wrongdoing. Explore solutions. 

If you have just some of the skills listed below, or others we failed to list, please consider applying for this position, especially if you are a candidate whose experience includes working with diverse members of the public. We are a nimble organization that strives to make the best use of the skills of our staff, and is dedicated to developing them.

Responsibilities

The reporter will: 

  • Work with the managing editor, deputy managing editor and multimedia editor to strategize, frame, report and write news stories. 
  • Develop sources in state government and in diverse communities, including urban and rural, and engage members of the public in identifying breakdowns in systems, attempts to dissuade or mislead residents and explorations of potential solutions to problems. 
  • Cultivate collegial and productive relationships with other news organizations.
  • Work with student-journalists, including in a classroom setting or online learning environment, and early-career journalists working as interns and fellows for Wisconsin Watch.
  • Collaborate with journalists at for-profit and nonprofit news organizations in Wisconsin and across the nation.

Location: The reporter will be located in the state capital of Madison, with occasional travel throughout Wisconsin. Some evening and weekend work is necessary. Like many organizations, we’re often working from home until COVID-19 conditions improve, and we take precautions when in-person reporting is necessary — such as at the Capitol. The vaccination rate on the UW-Madison campus is roughly 95%. Madison is routinely ranked among the top cities in the United States for liveability (although there’s not a darn thing we can do about the winter weather)!

Qualifications: The ideal candidate will be able to report and complete complex stories and visualize related multimedia elements while meeting deadlines. The candidate also will be comfortable working with experienced as well as early-career journalists.

Bonus skills: 

  • Be able to analyze and visually present data. 
  • Familiarity with Wisconsin, its history and its politics. 
  • Multimedia skills including photography, audio, video and editing.
  • Spanish-language proficiency.

Expected salary range: $60,000 to $70,000 a year, commensurate with skills and experience.

Benefits: Generous paid vacation and holiday time, sick days, family and caregiver leave, subsidized medical and dental benefits, transportation benefits and self-funded 403(b) retirement plan.

Deadline: The initial application window will be open until December 31, 2021. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

The Center’s staff includes an executive director who is responsible for the news and business operations, an associate director who runs the daily business activities, a managing editor who runs the daily news activities, a deputy managing editor who edits, manages reporters and facilitates cross-newsroom collaborations, a digital and multimedia director who is responsible for the website and our multimedia content and operations, a development director who leads revenue-generation efforts, and a membership manager who guides efforts to expand our community of supporters,. 

We have a reporter based in Milwaukee, a radio reporting fellow paid by Wisconsin Public Radio, a Report for America corps member who is managing a criminal justice reporting project, and a fellow from the University of Maryland. We also have investigative reporting and public engagement and marketing interns. 

Wisconsin Watch’s reports are published at WisconsinWatch.org, and content is made available at no charge to the public and to news organizations through our own distribution system plus a nationwide partnership with the Associated Press. 

A successful candidate should understand the Center’s role in the news environment and share a commitment to its mission and values.

So far in 2021,Wisconsin Watch has produced 40 major reports reaching an estimated audience of more than 55 million people and trained a record 12 fellows and interns.

Wisconsin Watch has won dozens of national, regional and state awards from the Milwaukee Press Club,, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists and finalist awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Local Independent Online News Association and The Eppys as well as regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for a short documentary and a series on hospitals collecting overdue medical bills from their patients during the pandemic.

We’re a flexible, fun workplace that still manages to do hard-core work. 

And we’re a rapidly growing organization, chosen earlier this year to receive a $1.4 million investment from the American Journalism Project to support our efforts with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service to reshape the local news ecosystem across Wisconsin. We also are teaming up with five other news organizations in the NEW (Northeast Wisconsin) News Lab to strengthen local news, a pillar of our democracy. 

To apply: Please fill out and submit this form. It will require you to upload a resume and provide links of up to 5 work samples plus a list of references with their contact information. If you’d like to chat about the job before applying, contact Managing Editor Dee J. Hall at dhall@wisconsinwatch.org

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism embraces diversity and inclusiveness in our journalism, training activities, hiring practices and workplace operations. The complex issues we face as a society require respect for different viewpoints. Race, class, generation, sexual orientation, gender and geography all affect point of view. Reflecting these differences in our reporting leads to better, more-nuanced stories and a better-informed community.

We especially encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including people of color, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities. 

We look forward to hearing from you!

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The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.