Lawmakers’ attempt to evict Center arouses national controversy

The Wisconsin State Journal's June 6 editorial on what it calls a "mean-spirited eviction notice." Kate Golden/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

By Kate Golden
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter broke the news with a tweet at 5:19 a.m. Wednesday: Joint Finance Committee lawmakers had amended the state budget to evict the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism from its offices at the University of Wisconsin and prohibit UW employees from working with the Center.

Motion 999 was approved 12-4 down party lines, with Republicans in the majority, around 6 a.m.

The controversy and coverage began shortly afterward, from news organizations and groups across the nation and the political spectrum.

“It is the height of arrogance, and everybody who voted for that should be embarrassed. It smacks of the kind of tactics you would expect from Vladmir Putin or Hugo Chavez — not in Wisconsin,” Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, said in an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio’s Joy Cardin Thursday morning.

Conservative Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes and liberal pundit Rachel Maddow of MSNBC may not agree on much, ordinarily — but Sykes and MaddowBlog contributor Zachary Roth both went to bat for the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center.

Roth called the move “especially alarming” and noted that the JFC relied on the Center’s reporting recently in a vote delaying the expansion of a GPS offender monitoring system until its reliability could be proven.

Sykes, on RightWisconsin.com, urged conservative lawmakers to “sober up, see the light, and take this out of the budget.”

“At a time when conservatives should be embracing government restraint, the motion combines some of the worst aspects of the IRS and DOJ scandals – using government to punish those perceived as political enemies combined with a clear assault on the free press,” Sykes wrote.

Sykes’ view wasn’t universally shared by conservatives. His post appeared alongside one from David Blaska showing the Center’s logo with the headline “Center for Investigative Propaganda.”
And Assembly speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told the Journal Sentinel that he believed the Center was biased and shouldn’t have taxpayer support.

The Center occupies two small offices at the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It receives no funding from the school. In a facilities use agreement, the Center receives office space in return for hiring at least five interns from the school each year and providing educational services.

LINK: Read more about the Center and its response to Motion 999: Center responds to JFC lawmakers’ early-morning eviction vote

The University of Wisconsin quickly came to the defense of the Center and its award-winning collaboration with the journalism school, as did many of its students and employees.

Greg Downey, director of the journalism school, called the measure “a direct assault on our academic freedom in research, teaching, and service — and on the Wisconsin Idea.”

Gary Sandefur, dean of the university’s College of Letters & Science, which oversees the journalism school, said it was “legislative micromanagement and overreach at its worst.”

Eleven former interns signed a letter to the state Legislature saying that “we can attest that the award-winning Center’s presence on campus has been fundamental to helping us begin our careers as journalists.”

The Madison Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Investigative News Network issued a statement in the Center’s support. And the Wisconsin State Journal wrote an editorial titled “Don’t boot center from campus.”

The Center’s work is published by more than 230 news outlets across Wisconsin and the nation. As of May 2013, it has published 107 major reports and nearly 100 columns, reaching more than 25 million people.

Said Sen. Schultz: “I am certainly hoping that if the Legislature doesn’t come to its senses that Gov. Walker will exercise some maturity and take this out. This sends a signal about our state that I don’t think is very flattering, and find personally deeply distressing.”

“We can and must do better than that,” Schultz said.

News about the Motion 999 controversy

Stories from national and out-of-state media

Investigative Reporting Workshop. Wisconsin Watch stays the course
MuckRock. Mailbag: Wisconsin legislators blasted for journalism center eviction
Columbia Journalism Review. How Wisconsin’s watchdogs kept their home
Columbia Journalism Review. Watch out, watchdogs
Inside Higher Ed. Journalism center a target
JimRomenesko.com. Wisconsin lawmakers want investigative journalists booted from UW-Madison campus
Talking Points Memo. Wisconsin Lawmakers Vote To Expel Investigative Journalism Org From University Campus
Investigative Reporters and Editors. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism to remain at University of Wisconsin-Madison location
Investigative Reporters and Editors. Lawmakers take aim at home for Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
University Herald. State of Wisconsin Votes to End Investigative Journalism Center’s Collaboration With UW-Madison
Boing Boing. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism wins out against political opponents
Boing Boing. Wisconsin legislators ban university from collaborating with independent investigative journalism center
Duluth News Tribune. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism targeted
St. Paul Pioneer Press. Wisconsin investigative journalism group sounds alarm over state budget action
City Pages (Minneapolis). Wisconsin Republicans want to kick investigative journalism center off UW campus
Daily Herald (Suburban Chicago) Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism could be moved
The Republic (Columbus, Ind.). Wis. investigative journalism group blindsided by budget provision to move it off UW campus
The Raw Story. Wisconsin Republicans vote to muzzle journalism center
Nieman Journalism Lab. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism won’t be kicked off campus after all
Nieman Journalism Lab. Saving “The Wisconsin Idea”: How the battle in Madison threatens a century of innovation
Nieman Journalism Lab.  On, Wisconsin! What happens when you try to kick a nonprofit journalism center off campus?
Nieman Journalism Lab. This Week in Review: Greenwald and the journalists’ club, and a j-school’s big political win
Huffington Post. Wisconsin Nonprofit Journalism Center Targeted For Eviction By Republican Lawmakers (VIDEO)
Student Press Law Center. Journalism groups worry about impact of Wisconsin legislators’ vote targeting investigative nonprofit
Current.org. Gov. Walker vetoes Wisconsin journalism center eviction attempt 
Current.org. Wisconsin lawmakers seek to hobble nonprofit investigative journalism center
Knight Science Journalism at MIT. Wisconsin Legislators Move to Shut Down an Investigative Reporting Program
El PuercoEspín. Estados Unidos: el periodismo sin fines de lucro, perseguido, por Justin Ellis
Dubuque Telegraph Herald (sidebar). Schultz worries about ‘opening the floodgates’ with vouchers
MinnPost. Veto means Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism stays at UW-Madison
MinnPost. Wisconsin lawmakers take aim at nonprofit news organization
The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Lawmakers Seek to Evict Nonprofit Newsroom from Wisc. Campus
PolicyMic. Scott Walker: Wisconsin Governor and Legislature Make Plans to Shut Down State News Outlet
FOI FYI. FOI Update: GOP-led committee votes to uproot Wisconsin investigative journalism center 
Free Speech Radio News. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism spared eviction after governor removes measure from budget
Free Speech Radio News. Wisconsin investigative journalism center fights eviction led by Republican lawmakers
Poynter. Wisconsin’s government has other ties to journalism orgs
Poynter. Center for Investigative Journalism will continue to operate on U-Wisconsin’s campus
Nonprofit Quarterly. No Ill Wind for Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Wisconsin stories

The Badger Herald. State investigative journalism group keeps on-campus office
Wisconsin Public Television. Here and Now: John Nygren And Cory Mason Debate State Budget
UpFront with Mike Gousha. WCIJ faces eviction from UW Madison campus
UW-Madison. Governor spares journalism center, approves delay in HR Design
UW-Madison budget news. Ward asks for vetoes of WCIJ, HR Design provisions
My Racine County. Local Reps tout impact of state budget
WORT. Scott Walker Vetoes Last-Minute Eviction
WKOW. Budget wrap-up featured on Capitol City Sunday
WKOW. Republicans confident budget will pass, Democrats gain support from moderates
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gov. Scott Walker to veto bail bonds measure
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Faculty group asks Walker to veto budget provision evicting journalism center
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. If inclined, Scott Walker could change budget provisions with veto pen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Budget passes by one vote as vouchers take center stage
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (No Quarter blog). Belling, Sykes spar over Republican vote on journalism center
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Regents accuse lawmakers of ‘micromanaging’ UW System
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. GOP lawmakers want to boot investigative journalism center off UW-Madison campus
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Investigative journalism group sounds alarm over state budget action
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Leaders mum on genesis of kicking journalists out of UW
Wisconsin Public Radio News. Walker Reverses Eviction Of Investigative Journalism Center
Wisconsin Public Radio News. What Assembly Republicans Plan To Change In The State Budget
Wisconsin Public Radio News. Investigative Journalism Group May Have To Leave UW-Madison
Wisconsin Public Radio. At Issue (Guest: Andy Hall)
Wisconsin Public Radio. Joy Cardin (Guest: Greg Downey)
WisPolitics. Walker to nix bail bonds budget provision, touts tax cuts in budget
WisPolitics. GOP says investigative center won’t be “muzzled” by eviction
WisPolitics. JFC finishes work on budget, approving bigger income tax cut, choice expansion
The Capital Times. It’s up to Scott Walker to help Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
The Capital Times. Morning briefing: Immigration, veto requests, private investments, Chinese software thieves
The Capital Times. State Dems: Little hope to sway GOP on budget
The Capital Times. What do Republicans have against the Center for Investigative Journalism?
The Capital Times. Conservative star Charlie Sykes rips GOP over Center for Investigative Journalism
The Capital Times (brief). State Debate: Dems must forget unions, Cieslewicz insists; bloggers froth over J-school flap
Isthmus. UW collaborations under scrutiny
Isthmus. UW-Madison officials say academic freedom at stake in GOP assault on Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
WQOW 18 (Eau Claire). Governor Walker reacts to state budget vote
Pierce County Herald. Joint Finance Committee approves new budget
Pierce County Herald. State Political and Government News: Protests come in for cuts to journalism center
La Crosse Tribune. Move to quash journalism center bashed
WEAU.com. Joint Finance Committee approves private school tuition tax deduction, targets journalism center
Fox 11. Journalism group stunned by budget provision
WHBL.com. Last minute items added to budget passed by Joint Finance Committee
WTAQ. Last minute items added to budget passed by Joint Finance Committee
The Daily Cardinal. Investigative journalism center to remain on UW-Madison campus
The Daily Cardinal. Biennial budget to move on to Gov. Scott Walker
The Daily Cardinal. Chancellor David Ward supports investigative journalism center in letter to legislators
The Daily Cardinal. State finance committee approves amendment forcing investigative journalism organization off UW-Madison’s campus
WSAU. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism looking for answers to budget action
Wisconsin Reporter. Walker signs Wisconsin’s $70.1 billion budget, powered by veto pen
Wisconsin Reporter. Nonprofit investigative journalists at center of political battle?
Wisconsin Reporter. Journalist squares off with lawmakers at Wisconsin Capitol
Simpson Street Free Press. We stand with the Center for Investigative Journalism
Capitolisms. Maybe the butler did it
Wisconsin State Journal. Gov. Walker to veto bounty hunters, keep investigative journalism center at UW-Madison
Wisconsin State Journal. GOP likes chances in state budget battle
Wisconsin State Journal. Bounty hunters, lead paint, kringle make for long policy list in state budget
GazetteXtra. Kolste presses Walker on budget provisions
Badger Herald. Senate passes state budget bill
WXOW. Gov. Walker wants to take time looking at budget
Superior Telegram. Walker defends budget vetoes in Green Bay
Agri-View. Capital Update: Budget Passed; Awaits Walker’s signature

Statements from organizations

UW School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Governor Walker vetoes eviction; our collaboration with WisconsinWatch.org will continue
UW School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Response to JFC budget amendment regarding SJMC and WCIJ
UW School of Journalism & Mass Communication faculty and staff. Letter to Wisconsin Legislature
UW School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Under threat of dissolution, our WisconsinWatch collaboration earns overwhelming support
UW School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Myth and Fact: WisconsinWatch.org and UW-Madison
UW-Madison Teaching Assistants’ Association. TAA condemns attacks on the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
PROFS President William F. Tracy. Letter to Gov. Scott Walker
PROFS. PROFS Highlights Wisconsin Idea and Academic Freedom in Requesting Veto of Attack on Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
PROFS. University Committee Statement on the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
PROFS. Walker to Veto Center for Investigative Journalism Provision; Says Regents Should Set Policy for Partnerships
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Journalism Educators Urge Wisconsin Lawmakers to Support – not Condemn – the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ Madison supports investigative journalism center
UW-Madison. University reaffirms support for investigative journalism
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Center responds to JFC lawmakers’ early-morning eviction vote
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. WCIJ Board of Directors statement on the Joint Finance Committee proposal to evict the Center from the UW
Investigative News Network. INN statement on vote to evict Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism from University of Wisconsin-Madison
Investigative Reporters and Editors. IRE Board of Directors calls for Wisconsin lawmakers to halt action against Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Wisconsin Newspaper Association. WNA calls on legislators to remove WCIJ provisions from state budget
Local Independent Online News Publishers. LION: Wisconsin lawmakers should take clear-eyed look at journalism center
Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism (IowaWatch). Statement in Support of Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Leaders in journalism field. On Wisconsin
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Statement of support
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Second statement of support
Madison Common Council. Resolution
Vermont Journalism Trust board of trustees. Wisconsin State Legislature’s vote
State Sen. Chris Larson. Senate Democrats Send Letter to Governor Requesting Veto of Voucher Expansion, Weakening BadgerCare, Tax Break for Wealthy
State Senate Democrats. Letter to Gov. Scott Walker
UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward. Letter to Gov. Scott Walker

News outlet editorials and opinion pieces

Wisconsin State Journal. Don’t boot center from campus
Wisconsin State Journal. John Smalley: Wisconsin state budget recipe: Please avert your eyes
Wisconsin State Journal. Chris Rickert: Guilt by association snares Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Wisconsin State Journal. Jim Angevine: Too many questions in state budget need answers
Wisconsin State Journal. Mark Pitsch: Office flap just the latest attack on free flow of information
Wisconsin State Journal. Robert Montgomery: State motto should be changed to ‘Backward’
Wisconsin State Journal. Aarushi Agni and Stephanie Sykes: Gov. Scott Walker should veto the Legislature’s move to evict the Center for Investigative Journalism from UW-Madison
PBS MediaShift. Kathleen Bartzen Culver: Wisconsin lawmakers try to remove investigative reporting center from University of Wisconsin
EconBrowser. From Wisconsin ideal to Wisconsin … something
Channel3000.com. Neil Heinen: GOP Sneak Attack: Budget proposal an assault on UW, journalism and citizens
Channel3000.com. Neil Heinen: Reasons To Veto
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. While Wisconsin slept
RightWisconsin.com. Charlie Sykes: Petty, vindictive, dumb
Wisconsin Reporter. Republicans mistaken to target University of Wisconsin journalism center
Wisconsin Reporter. Is state money for newspaper advertising a ‘subsidy’?
The Capital Times. How the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism won
The Capital Times. Budget bad news for state’s future
The Capital Times. Scott Walker’s vetoes allow him to appear moderate
The Capital Times. Journalists can’t work at UW, but they can work at the Capitol?
The Capital Times. Spencer Black: Right-wing efforts to stifle media are chilling
The Capital Times. Dane County state reps: Budget rebrands GOP as callous conservatives
The Capital Times. Dave Zweifel: Plain Talk: Punishment of investigative center displays legislators’ arrogance
The Capital Times. John Nichols: Tragedy and farce in the Joint Finance Committee
The Capital Times. There is no right or left when it comes to press freedom
The Capital Times. John Nichols: A free press is essential for left and right
Knight Science Journalism at MIT. A Reprieve for Investigative Journalism in Wisconsin
Milwaukee Magazine. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s puzzling rebuke
First Draft. Update: Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s eviction notice
Esquire. Watching Scotty grow, continued
The Progressive. Wis. GOP: Evict investigative reporting center
The Maddow Blog on MSNBC. Wisc. GOP’s new target: investigative journalism
Investigative Reporting Workshop (American University). Wisconsin legislators vote to kick investigative journalism out
Tribune-Phonograph (Abbotsford, Wis.). Speak now or … (no link available)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Walker must veto a petty assault on journalism
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Legislators build budget in the worst way
Wired: Deborah Blum: A Win for Journalism and Democracy in Wisconsin
Wired. Deborah Blum: Journalism and Democracy in Wisconsin
National Association of Science Writers. A Reprieve for Investigative Journalism in Wisconsin
Phil Hands. Editorial Cartoon.
Urban Milwaukee. Murphy’s Law: Don’t Mess with the Press
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Young journalists get harsh lesson
Sheboygan Press. A budget for two Wisconsins?
Sheboygan Press. Keep journalism center funding intact at UW
Society of Professional Journalists. Investigative journalism center dust up just the latest press infringement
The People’s Mic. Professor Greg Downey on Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism being defunded
Benton Foundation. Wisconsin legislators vote to kick investigative journalism out
PublicSource. Wisconsin legislature tries to oust investigative journalism site from university campus
Verona County Broadcaster. Budget proposal focused on journalism center is spiteful
Huffington Post. Doug Bradley: The Eyes Have it
Shepherd Express. Issue of the Week: State Budget Details Reveal GOP Pettiness
GazetteXtra. Budget undergoes crushing changes while you slept
The Milton Courier. Viewpoint: Budget provision harms the ‘Wisconsin Idea’
Baraboo News Republic. Secrecy, deception abound
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE Writes to Wisconsin Governor Urging Veto of Unconstitutional Budget Measure
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE to the Wisconsin State Legislature: Protect University of Wisconsin Faculty’s Academic Freedom
Appleton Post-Crescent. Dan Flannery: Creating qualified job candidates only goes so far for UW
Appleton Post-Crescent. Thumbs Up and Down
Appleton Post-Crescent. Letters: Investigative journalism center matters
Sheboygan Press. Letter: Is journalism school proposal Wisconsin’s scandal?
The Gazette. Wisconsin bill a threat to journalism
Oshkosh Northwestern. Guest editorial: Lawmakers’ assault on journalism center wrong
Oshkosh Northwestern. It’s Your Call: Thanks for column on journalism center
Oshkosh Northwestern. Guest editorial: Gov. Walker, veto these bad policies
Racine Journal Times. Journal Times editorial: Give Walker credit for this veto
Racine Journal Times. Friday Finishers: State Republicans shouldn’t be afraid of journalism
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter. Our view: Keep journalism center funding intact
Fighting Bob. Too true
Uppity Wisconsin. The “Eat Dessert First” Budget
Waukesha Freeman via Wigderson Library & Pub. Give Republicans a dunce cap
Beloit Daily News. The conversation: What they’re saying at BDN Connection
Onalaska Holmen Courier-Life. SKOL: GOP lawmakers’ priorities are off
Onalaska Holmen Courier-Life. GUEST VIEW: State budget way off target
The Star. Our View: Bad Credit
Wausau Daily Herald. Sunday Feedback: These parts of state budget need to go
Times Union (Albany, N.Y.). Finding a good home for investigative reporting
UpFront with Mike Gousha. Republicans face serious questions about WCIJ
Caffeinated Politics. Governor Walker Vetoes Republican Over-Reach On Wisconsin Center For Investigative Journalism
Tucson Citizen. Rem Reider: Investigative journalism center saved
USA Today. Rem Rieder: Investigative journalism center saved
Chicago Sun-Times. Big Brother aims at free press

News outlets that carried Associated Press coverage

AP brief: Center for Investigative Journalism targeted in state budget, June 5
AP story: Wis. journalism group stunned by budget provision, June 5
AP story: Dems to GOP: Join us in opposing state budget, June 18
AP story: Wisconsin Senate Democrats force delay on passage of state budget, June 20
AP story: Walker mostly mum on budget vetoes, June 21
AP story: Wisconsin Gov. Walker flooded with about 200 requests to veto, save items of state budget, June 27
AP story: Investigative journalism center starts fund drive, July 1
ABC 7 News (Chicago)
Appleton Post-Crescent
Bloomberg Businessweek
Channel3000.com
Chippewa Herald
CNBC
Duluth News Tribune
Dunn County News
Eau Claire Leader Telegram
Fond Du Lac Reporter
Green Bay Press Gazette
Huffington Post
I4U News
Juneau County Star-Times
KIROTV (Seattle, Wash.)
KMSP-TV (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
La Crosse Tribune
Leader-Telegram
Madison.com
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter
Marshfield News Herald
My San Antonio
News8000.com (La crosse)
Oshkosh Northwestern
RecessionReality
SFGate.com
Sheboygan Press
Star Tribune
Stevens Point Journal
The Republic (Columbus, Ind.)
Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)
TribTown (Indiana)
Topix.net
Walworth County Today
Wausau Daily Herald
WBAY, ABC 2 in Green Bay
Winona Daily News
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
WKOW Madison
WMTV, NBC15
WRAL (N.C.)
WSBTV (Atlanta, Ga.)
WXOW (La Crosse)

The Center collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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