Lauren Fuhrmann, associate director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, is among 10 mid-career professionals selected for the first Investigative News Network Emerging Leaders Council, a peer group of leading business and news leaders who will meet for a year to work on news industry challenges, build support networks and develop professional skills.
When he returned from a medical leave in early 2016, psychologist Bradley Boivin discovered a troubling pattern among Waupun Correctional Institution inmates who had been held in solitary confinement. Thirteen of his patients’ mental health classifications had been changed without Boivin’s knowledge — and in his opinion, without proper assessment.
Journalists and advocates for open government gathered at the seventh annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards to celebrate efforts to keep the public informed while vowing to remain vigilant in the face of pushback from politicians.
In March, for the second year in a row, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued an executive order regarding the state’s open records law. It notes that “the American republic and the State of Wisconsin were founded on the basis of broad accountability of government to the people.” And it declares that “the free flow of information from the government to the people instills trust and confidence in our democracy and ensures that our government is accessible, accountable, and open.”
The order directs state agencies to track and post their record response times and, like last year’s order, gives procedural guidance that should make it easier for citizens to request and receive records. It instructs agencies to charge no more than 15 cents per page for provided photocopies and to charge no more than $30 per hour for government employees’ time spent locating records. It directs that agency meeting notices be posted in a centralized location on Wisconsin.gov, making these more accessible to the public. And it prescribes records training “for all employees and members of all boards, councils, and commissions.”
The governor issued his executive order just as media outlets were analyzing state agencies’ performance since the 2016 order.
News deserts are geographical areas or socioeconomic groups that are parched of fresh, important local news, whether it’s a result of the shuttering of neighborhood newspapers, downsizing and the limited resources of news outlets or a lack of coverage of particular topics. Help WCIJ identify news deserts in Wisconsin by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
High school and college journalists and young professional journalists are invited to a special investigative reporting workshop being offered March 30 as part of this year’s Wisconsin Watchdog Awards event. Admission is free.
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism was named a winner Tuesday of eight awards in the 2016 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism contest. The Center now has received a total of 48 awards since 2011 in the state’s premiere all-media journalism competition. The honors recognize stories that examined risks to Wisconsin’s drinking water, the lack of universal background checks for gun purchases, financial practices that target poor consumers, the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, the lack of protections for bees and the use of trauma-informed care in Wisconsin’s criminal justice system and elsewhere. Sharing several awards with the Center was Bridgit Bowden, Wisconsin Public Radio’s former Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Fellow who was embedded in the Center’s newsroom last year. University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication students, working as paid Center interns or in classroom collaborations, played important roles in four of the award-winning entries.
Two citizens, two journalists, one fired government worker and one small but gutsy Wisconsin newspaper are among the recipients of the 2016-17 Openness Awards, or Opees, bestowed annually by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. The awards, announced in advance of national Sunshine Week (sunshineweek.org), March 12-18, recognize extraordinary achievement in the cause of open government.