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Portrait of Kiran Saini.
Kiran Saini joined Wisconsin Watch in January 2023. Prior to joining Wisconsin Watch, Saini was audience development manager at the Detroit Free Press where she oversaw audience work for 15 newspapers across Michigan. Saini is passionate about championing diversity in newsrooms and increasing accessibility to news coverage. (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch)

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Wisconsin Watch is pleased to announce the hiring of Kiran Saini as our first audience director.

Saini comes to Wisconsin Watch from the Detroit Free Press, where she was audience development manager. She began her new role on Jan. 23.

Saini will work across our website, social media, newsletters and other news products to connect with an expanded and more diverse audience. Her work will focus on developing and implementing strategies that grow a loyal Wisconsin Watch audience in a manner that leads to increased revenue. 

In addition, Saini will advise our nonprofit partner, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS), on audience growth strategies for the website and social media platforms. And she will help develop audience growth strategies for our joint News414 project, which provides interactive texts to serve residents’ information needs on issues such as food, jobs and housing; engages the public in person and on social media; and informs accountability reporting by NNS and Wisconsin Watch. 

This role is funded by the American Journalism Project as part of a partnership between Wisconsin Watch and NNS to rebuild local news in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin. 

Saini says she is passionate about reaching underserved audiences and telling stories that wouldn’t be told otherwise. She says she is also dedicated to training and growth for young journalists.

Saini credits participation in a college program called the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity for opening her eyes to how new perspectives and ideas are needed in the industry. 

“It also made me realize that I want to go into news management so I can be a part of, or pitch decisions on what kinds of content should be covered,” she said. “I’m always an advocate for diverse content, but in audience development, specifically, I want to explore ways to make that content accessible. While so many organizations are (understandably) pivoting to paywalled content, I want to work in a way that will help news reach folks who have the right to be informed about their local news but don’t have a way of accessing it.” 

In her role at the Detroit Free Press, Saini worked with 15 Michigan-based Gannett newsrooms to improve search engine optimization, enhance social media engagement and grow audience. She previously worked as a digital producer WXYZ-TV Channel 7 in Detroit, and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University. 

“Kiran’s experience with growing loyal audiences will be invaluable as Wisconsin Watch seeks to increase access to our work, as well as increased revenue to help support our organization into the future,” Associate Director Coburn Dukehart said. “She brings a high level of passion to her work, to the field of journalism and to her commitment to supporting a younger generation of journalists.” 

Saini will be part of the audience and product team at Wisconsin Watch that includes Dukehart, Membership Director Emily Neinfeldt, and Digital Producer and Editor Amena Saleh. 

“I am excited to join the nonprofit news team at Wisconsin Watch where I have the time and energy to succeed, and where I feel like my voice can be heard as a woman of color. I am excited at the prospect of being able to elevate and increase accessibility for important local investigative journalism,” Saini said.

Saini is based in Detroit. She can be reached at

About Wisconsin Watch: Our guiding values: Protect the vulnerable, expose wrongdoing and explore solutions. We increase the quality, quantity and understanding of investigative journalism in Wisconsin, while training current and future generations of investigative journalists. 

Our work fosters an informed citizenry and strengthens democracy. Wisconsin Watch distributes its content for free to newspapers, radio and TV stations and news websites in Wisconsin and nationwide. In 2022, Wisconsin Watch produced 65 major stories that were picked up by more than 200 news outlets, reaching an estimated audience of more than 130 million. 

Wisconsin Watch is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan investigative news outlet primarily funded by individual donations and foundation grants. To support our work, click here. All financial support is publicly acknowledged to protect the integrity of our journalism. 

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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.