State of Wisconsin Votes to End Investigative Journalism Center's Collaboration With UW-Madison


An investigative journalism center not funded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) is being kicked off campus in a recent budget revision, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

In response, the organization is going to investigate.

"We are mounting an aggressive response," said Andy Hall, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Private organizations, news companies and individuals fund the center's $400,000 budget, not the school or the state and its four professional members and four student reporting interns use two offices on campus.

Wisconsin's State Legislature's Joint Finance Committee included a clause in the state's budget Wednesday barring the UW system Board of Regents from allowing the center to occupy any school-owned property. The clause was approved, along with 36 other non-related items, 12-4.

Hall said he and the center were "blindsided" by the decision.

The center has been part of the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication for the past three years. They have been stationed in the Vilas Communication Hall, which houses the campus radio station and television studio.

"In only three short years, this award-winning collaboration has resulted in a dramatic increase in the quality and quantity of both investigative reporting and public-interest data that is available to the people and businesses of Wisconsin," Greg Downey, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison, said in a statement.

Under the center's facilities-use agreement with the school, it must provide paid internships, classroom collaborations, guest lectures and other educational services. More than 230 media outlets in the state and across the nation have published the center's work. As of May, their 107 major reports and 100 columns had reached at least 25 million people.

In order to limit the governor's desired expansion for the use of GPS to track criminals, the Joint Finance Committee relied upon an investigative report put together by the center.

Media Editors of the Associated Press honored the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication last year with the inaugural Innovator of the Year for College Students Award.

"These students go on to win local and state awards for their reporting, and to launch their own careers in public-service investigative reporting," Downey said.

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