Recent Stories

WCIJ Associate Director Lauren Fuhrmann named to national Emerging Leaders Council by Institute for Nonprofit News

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.

Wisconsin prison officials quietly changed mental health status of inmates in solitary, psychologist says

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.

Your Right to Know: Walker’s order on records is welcome

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.

Wisconsin’s ‘news deserts’ hurt our democracy — but you can help

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 msato@wisconsinwatch.org.

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism earns eight Milwaukee Press Club awards for coverage in 2016

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.

Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council names ‘Opee’ winners

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.