Reprinted with permission from ire.org.
Statement of the IRE Board of Directors
Since its launch four years ago, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has distinguished itself as a vital public-interest voice, producing original, hard-hitting reporting that has been published in more than 230 news outlets reaching more than 25 million people.
It is an extraordinary accomplishment for a small, non-profit newsroom created to revitalize in-depth reporting in the state, enrich public debate and better inform citizens at a time when investigative reporting faces ever increasing economic challenges.
A surprise move this week by the Wisconsin legislature to remove the Center from its offices at the University of Wisconsin and ban any employees of the university from working with its journalists is misguided and dangerous.
Beyond the impact of the stories it tells, the Center stands as a unique training ground for a new generation of young reporters learning the skills of investigative journalism under the guidance of executive director and former IRE Board member, Andy Hall. Targeting such work is indefensible.
The Center’s mission is to facilitate a vibrant democracy, to educate readers and viewers on matters of public policy and to inspire engagement in the very political process — principles that legislators should instinctively share and defend.
Stories done by the center have led to meaningful change and societal improvement, and legislators’ efforts to undermine such work are mysterious and unsettling.
Investigative Reporters and Editors calls on lawmakers in Wisconsin to reconsider.
For more information, contact IRE Executive Director Mark Horvit at 573-882-1984 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to send this statement to a lawmaker, you can download a pdf version here.
More support today:
• The Wisconsin Newspaper Association also called on legislators to repeal provisions affecting WCIJ from the state budget. “The nonpartisan Center continues to emerge as a national model for watchdog journalism, and will persist regardless of a physical presence in the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communications,” the organization wrote. Read the entire statement on WNAnews.com.
• The board of Local Independent Online News Publishers expressed its concern and said, “LION Publishers considers Hall and his team to be an exemplar of a beneficial collaboration between a journalism school and an independent news organization.”
The Center collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, 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.
Journalists should not have such a cozy relationship with a government entity such as a public university. No freebies should be taken or accepted. Why not let other entities get free rent on campus?