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The NEW News Lab is a local news collaboration in Northeast Wisconsin made up of six news outlets: FoxValley365The Post-CrescentGreen Bay Press-GazetteThe Press TimesWisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Watch, that is advancing in-depth local reporting on topics such as racism as a public health crisis, lack of affordable housing, funding of local schools, and coverage of local judicial systems.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Journalism Department is an educational partner. Microsoft is providing financial support to the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region to fund the initiative.

Explore our reports:

Learn more about the NEW News Lab and its value for democracy, journalism, and communities in Wisconsin. (Video produced by Microsoft)

Recent Stories from the New News Lab


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Major projects

The “Families Matter” series explored a broad thesis: Behind closed doors, Wisconsin families face myriad struggles. Many of these are completely invisible to those who aren’t in the same boat.

The “Open and Shut” investigative podcast and series shined a light on how prosecutors do their jobs — and the danger of allowing that power to go unchecked.

The Home is Here” series uses data from the 2020 census to explore the people and forces behind Northeast Wisconsin’s growing racial and ethnic diversity through the personal stories of Black, Asian, Indigenous, Hispanic and multiracial people who call this region home.

The “Imperiled Shores” project exposed the impacts of climate change on the shores of Lake Michigan and the struggles those near water are facing with the rapidly changing landscape.

The “Disregarded” project explored the devastating effects of homelessness in Brown County and the efforts of local organizations to provide lasting solutions.

“Unaffordable: No Place to Call Home” detailed the struggles of many Northeast Wisconsin residents to find affordable housing while highlighting those who are helping to find answers.

Impact from NEW News Labs stories

Between June 1 and Sept. 30 of 2022, NEW News Lab stories reached print and online audiences estimated at more than 6.6 million people in 12 states. Stories produced by the six NEW News Lab partners were picked up by at least 122 news outlets — 70 of them in Wisconsin. And, in its opening weeks, the Open and Shut podcast was downloaded almost 120,000 times.

In a joint investigation with The Sheboygan Press, Phoebe Petrovic uncovered a long-secret series of internal probes at the Sheboygan Police Department that found a sprawling sexual harassment scandal involving 1 out of every 5 officers in the department. The reporting found female officers were treated more harshly than male colleagues participating in the same behavior and that the human resources director and the head of the city’s Police and Fire Commission were largely left in the dark about the allegations.

The stories prompted the resignation of the most egregious offending officer two days after the story broke, an anti-abuse group called for accountability, community members voiced their anger, and city officials vowed to better respond to and prevent such misconduct. In addition, Phoebe received several messages of gratitude from Sheboygan citizens.

This series was a finalist for the best collaboration from the 2023 LION Awards.

In a three-part series, Mario Koran explored the roots of racial and gender-related backlash that gripped Kiel, Wisconsin. The turmoil began when the school district investigated students’ reports of being bullied over their race or gender identity, and it escalated into bomb threats that shuttered schools, halted in-person government meetings and canceled the Memorial Day parade.

After two stories were published, parents rallied to prevent the ouster of a popular superintendent who a small but vocal group of parents targeted. Two far-right school board members resigned, restoring the board to a more moderate majority. This was one of our NEW News Lab stories. 

In January, we received a letter from Kiel resident Oliver Kornetzke to express his “satisfaction and gratitude” for the reporting.

“His reporting, without a doubt, helped save our community by allowing the citizens of Kiel – armed with the truth – pull away from the grips of a small fringe group of very hateful individuals.

“I firmly believe that without Mario’s work, the situation in Kiel would very much look different. Our community could very much be in a much darker place where misinformation and lies run rampant.”

This series won the Accountability Award from the 2023 LION awards.

Open and Shut, the Wisconsin Watch-WPR podcast that exposed the nearly unchecked power of prosecutors, has received statewide, regional and national honors from the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel contest, the Radio Television Digital News Association’s regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and first place from the Milwaukee Press Club for best podcast. In addition, Wisconsin Watch reporter Phoebe Petrovic and freelance producer Nina Earnest are finalists for their roles on Open and Shut for the national Livingston Awards, which recognize outstanding work by journalists under age 35.

In June 2023 the Wisconsin Legislature was expected to debate comprehensive reforms to the state’s building and zoning codes in part due to issues raised by the Press-Gazette and Post-Crescent in the No Place to Call Home series, including the chronic lack of affordable housing and a patchwork of regulations from community to community. This demonstrates the long-term impact of content created as a part of this partnership.

Also, the newspapers’ Home is Here project received a 2023 first-place award from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association in the Ongoing/Extended Coverage category. Said the judges: “This is a tremendously thorough look at one region’s changing demographics and the various impacts those changes have had. Home Is Here also highlights perspectives of minority populations that are often overlooked.” 

And the Wisconsin Newspaper Association awarded a 2023 first place to The Press Times in the Ongoing/Extended Coverage category for its NEW News Lab examination of homelessness, which was produced in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. “This compelling series should move the reader to action on one of the community’s most-pressing social needs,” the judges wrote.

News about the NEW News Lab

Read more about the NEW News lab in this story from the Green Bay Press Gazette.