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.