Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "Wisconsin" ...

  • Motherless Monkeys

    Noah Phillips' story exposed for the first time a controversial planned experiment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that involved depriving newborn monkeys of their mothers and exposing them to frightening situations to gauge the impact on their brain functioning and behavior. The experiment calls for the monkeys to then be euthanized when they turn 1. Phillips' even-handed treatment of animal activists and researchers alike lead him to obtain unprecedented access to the facilities at UW-Madison, which has been the target of frequent protests because of its controversial animal experiments dating back to the 1940s. Phillips' story has been praised by both sides for its accurate and insightful portrayal of the proposed study. It generated significant public debate -- including an online signature campaign that garnered more than 300,000 signatures -- and revealed a deep division among UW-Madison officials about the propriety of the research, which as of this date remains stalled.
  • Trouble with Taxes

    The intricacies of the property tax system in Wisconsin are not unlike the federal tax code: complex, confusing and potentially quite boring. But reporters Rutledge and Crowe tackled the topic with determination and curiosity and uncovered a statewide assessment system rife with problems. Founded in the late 1700s on fairness, Wisconsin’s system is far from fair. In their investigation, Rutledge and Crowe used documents and large data sets to penetrate a subject that impacts every property owner in Wisconsin but that few understand. The disparities were hitting homeowners in their wallets, but most had no clue why. Among the discoveries: Assessors across Wisconsin violated the state constitution while regulators ignored the practice; in dozens of communities, 20% or more of taxes were paid by the wrong people; and assessors in 15% of municipalities were doing “poor” work by the state’s own definition.
  • Dividing Lines

    This project explored the nature, causes and consequences of political polarization in metropolitan Milwaukee and Wisconsin. It concluded that metropolitan Milwaukee is by some measures the most polarized place in swing-state America; that it has grown more politically segregated with virtually every election cycle since the 1970s; that its voters live overwhelmingly in politically homogenous neighborhoods dominated by a single party; that those communities have been moving systematically in one partisan direction (either red or blue) for more than four decades; that the partisan gap between its urban and outlying communities has been steadily growing; and that this deep and deepening polarization is a consequence of at least three factors: extreme racial segregation, unusually high levels of political engagement and activism; and at least two decades of perpetual partisan conflict and mobilizing as a result of Wisconsin’s political competitiveness, its battleground role in presidential races and the unprecedented turmoil and division over collective bargaining beginning in 2011. We also charted the rise of political segregation nationally, in the ever-growing share of voters in the United States who live in politically one-sided counties. The project also traced the dramatic changes in voting behavior in the state of Wisconsin in recent decades with the demise of ticket-splitting, the rise of extreme party-line voting, and the systematic growth of two political divides – the one between white and nonwhite voters, and the one between densely populated and less densely populated places. The series explored the relationship between Wisconsin’s high and rising political engagement and turnout rates and its deepening partisan divisions. And it explored the consequences of rising polarization and political segregation when it comes to the way campaigns are conducted, the outcomes of elections, the decline in electoral competition, and barriers to regional problem-solving. It found that as a result of partisan and geographic fault lines, the two parties in Wisconsin (and elsewhere) are increasingly drawing their support from different kinds of voters and different kinds of communities, and winning very different kinds of elections.
  • Emergency text alert system inconsistent across college campuses

    In the wake of violence across college campuses in recent years, the wide range of percentages of college students who receive emergency notifications via text message reflect the inconsistent and patchwork emergency notification systems that U.S. universities and colleges use. In addition, universities vary on how they keep track of who and how many receive these alerts. But a review of university procedures at about two-dozen universities by Midwest student reporters revealed that universities automatically send out emergency notifications to school email addresses, but often allow students to opt-in for text messages. In fact, many schools do not require students to register for and receive text messages.
  • Chronic Crisis

    The investigation explored why mental health care in Milwaukee County is especially ineffective. We found that Milwaukee politicians for decades have ignored calls for reform, clinging to an outdated system that preserves union jobs at the expense of better care.
  • Outdoors grant investigation

    The investigation detailed how a handful of political insiders engineered a $500,000 hunting and fishing grant in perpetuity for some of their friends and political supporters. The taxpayer-funded grant from the state of Wisconsin went for teaching and promoting the sports of hunting and fishing, but the newly created receiving organization, the United Sportsmen, didn’t have any experience doing that work. Instead, the group had been doing political work and lobbying, often for goals at odds with those of some other outdoors groups, such as supporting a massive proposed pit mine in an area used by hunters and anglers. In spite of that, lawmakers wrote the grant qualifications to exclude more experienced groups and target their ally, which had the support of one of the state’s wealthiest and most influential campaign donors. In doing so, the lawmakers knowingly but surreptitiously put at risk millions of dollars in federal conservation funds for Wisconsin.
  • Water Watch Wisconsin

    Water Watch Wisconsin, a joint project of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television, is examining the quality and supply of Wisconsin’s water, which is increasingly subjected to human and climatic influences. A guiding question, throughout the project: Is this trend sustainable? Water is one of Wisconsin’s greatest treasures. The state is home to about 15,000 lakes, has more miles of Great Lakes coastline than any state except Michigan, and has underground reserves in four major aquifers.
  • Wisconsin's disabled jobless shortchanged

    Thousands of unemployed Wisconsinites with disabilities waited for months to receive services from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, which is tasked with helping those with disabilities find employment. The wait list was expected to grow in length and number after the Legislature, for the third year in a row, did not request the full amount of federal funds available for the agency -- which could eliminate the waiting list altogether.
  • Farmers vs. fish: Wisconsin's groundwater crisis

    Across central Wisconsin, in a region known as the Central Sands, residents have watched water levels in lakes and small streams drop for years. In a state with about 15,000 lakes and more than a quadrillion gallons of groundwater, it is hard to believe that water could ever be in short supply. Experts say, however, that the burgeoning number of so-called high-capacity wells mostly for irrigated agriculture, is drawing down some ground and surface water.
  • Lost signals; disconnected lives

    While reporting this project, thirteen offenders told the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism that the state’s GPS tracking system repeatedly failed, registered false alerts that landed them in jail when they hadn’t done anything wrong.