The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism was named in eight awards in the Milwaukee Press Club’s annual celebration Friday.
The Center was honored with six gold awards and two bronze in the Club’s annual Awards for Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism contest, the state’s premiere all-media journalism competition. The Center has won 40 awards from the Milwaukee Press Club since 2011.
Friday’s ceremony included honors for reporting, editing and multimedia work by current or former staff members Kate Golden, Dee J. Hall, Bill Lueders and Ron Seely, and current or former interns Abigail Becker, Madeleine Behr, Taylor Chase, Tara Golshan, Haley Henschel and Sean Kirkby. Eleven University of Wisconsin-Madison students participating in an investigative reporting class and two faculty members contributed, along with former UW-Madison art student Jacob Berchem and former UW-Madison cartography student Katie Kowalsky.
Bridgit Bowden, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting fellow, who is embedded in the Center’s newsroom during her one-year fellowship, was among the gold award winners for a report she produced on nitrate pollution of drinking water in cooperation with the Center.
Andy Hall, the Center’s executive director, noted that two of the awards recognized the ongoing Failure at the Faucet series, which has exposed problems with the quality of Wisconsin’s drinking water. The project includes collaboration by WPR, Wisconsin Public Television, the Center’s entire staff and crew of interns, as well as the reporting, data analysis, map-making and innovative multimedia features produced by students.
“Thanks to this remarkable teamwork, Wisconsin residents now have a much clearer understanding of contamination of their drinking water,” Hall said. “We hope this investigation helps residents learn not only about problems, but also potential solutions.”
The other award-winning work focused on critical issues such as the changing use of solitary confinement in prisons, the causes behind gun violence, the struggles of Gov. Scott Walker’s job-creation agency and the impacts of frac sand mining on the environment, economy and communities.
Two gold awards went to Precious Lives, a collaborative project examining gun violence — its causes, impacts upon children and potential solutions — in Milwaukee and statewide. Partners in the project are 371 Productions, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WUWM (Milwaukee Public Radio), WNOV and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
“These stories, and their statewide impact, truly represent the Wisconsin Idea in action,” said Hall, referring to the century-old principle that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom, to the borders of the state and beyond.
Best Investigative Story or Series
Ron Seely, Kate Golden, Bridgit Bowden, Haley Henschel and Dee J. Hall; UW-Madison J475 students Rachael Lallensack, Gabrielle Menard, Tierney King, Silke Schmidt, Kathi Matthews-Risley, Jane Roberts, Mary Kate McCoy, Elise Bayer and Fern Schultz; Assistant Professor Katy Culver and Professor Deborah Blum; and UW-Madison cartography student Katie Kowalsky.
Best Investigative Report (audio)
Bridgit Bowden, Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Best Use of Multimedia (Online)
Jacob Berchem, Taylor Chase and Kate Golden
Best Business Story or Series
Madeleine Behr, Dee J. Hall, Tara Golshan and Kate Golden
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp: What went wrong?
Best Public Service Story or Series
Precious Lives Team — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, WUWM, WNOV and 371 Productions. The Center’s contributors included Sean Kirkby, Kate Golden, Dee J. Hall and Bill Lueders.
Precious Lives: Kids, guns and how we can stop the violence
Best series reporting (audio)
371 Productions, WUWM, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. The Center’s contributors included Kate Golden and Sean Kirkby.
Precious Lives project
Best Public Service Story or Series
Dee J. Hall, Tara Golshan Abigail Becker
Gov. Walker’s stealth government
Best Coverage of a Single News Topic or Event Including Breaking News
Dee J. Hall and Bill Lueders