What we do

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Collaboration is the key.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, WisconsinWatch.org, is a nonprofit and nonpartisan center based in Madison, Wis.

Our mission

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism seeks to increase the quality and quantity of investigative reporting in Wisconsin, fostering an informed citizenry and strengthening democracy, while training the current and next generations of investigative journalists.

Our focus is on government integrity and quality of life issues.

The values guiding our work: Protect the vulnerable. Expose wrongdoing. Seek solutions to problems.

Disclaimer: All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the University of Wisconsin-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The Center is operated by a professional staff under the guidance of a nationally noted board of directors. The Center collaborates with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication, where it is housed; Wisconsin Public Radio; and Wisconsin Public Television — and with mainstream and ethnic news media across the nation.

The Center is a founding member of the Investigative News Network, the first network of nonprofit journalism organizations that conduct investigative reporting in the public interest.

The Center is a national leader in promoting journalistic ethics and financial transparency standards.

Since its launch in January 2009, the award-winning Center has distributed more than 125 major reports, including: A multi-part series in Spanish and English on the growing reliance on immigrants by the state’s dairy industry; questions about a high-speed rail line that is Wisconsin’s biggest stimulus project; barriers to treatment for mothers suffering from perinatal depression; the rising numbers of low-income students in Wisconsin schools; the role of DNA testing in proving the innocence of a dozen Wisconsin prisoners; Wisconsin’s troubling increases in suicides; and the underreporting of sexual assaults on Wisconsin campuses.

Many of the Center’s reports are produced in collaboration with other news organizations in Wisconsin and nationwide. The reports have been cited, published or broadcast by more than 230 news organizations including Wisconsin Public Radio, The New York Times, The Capital Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Oshkosh Northwestern, La Crosse Tribune, Eau Claire Leader Telegram, The Country Today, WBAY-ABC in Green Bay, Hudson Star-Observer, Janesville Gazette, La Comunidad and WisPolitics.com. The Center’s reports have reached an estimated audience of more than 30 million.

The Center is a first-of-its-kind alliance with public broadcasting journalists in six cities around the state, plus students and faculty of the journalism school at Wisconsin’s flagship university.

To fulfill its mission, the Center combines innovative technology with time-tested journalistic techniques to increase the transparency of official actions, intensify the search for solutions to governmental and societal problems, strengthen democracy and raise the quality of investigative journalism.

The Center:

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  • Produces investigative reports independently and in partnership with Wisconsin Public Broadcasting or the Investigative News Network.
  • Educates and trains University of Wisconsin-Madison students to become investigative journalists.
  • Helps commercial news outlets, including ethnic media, pursue their own investigations or produce joint projects.
  • Publishes investigative reports and offers a forum for sharing investigative findings, story tips and moderated discussions.

Read what editors from around Wisconsin say about the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism:

“It’s exciting to see the center picking up steam — I’m impressed by what I’ve read so far. I genuinely hope you have created a model that will transform our state’s investigative initiatives.”
– Joel Christopher, digital content editor, The Appleton Post-Crescent

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has already established itself as a news organization to be reckoned with. We have been very happy with the content they’re putting out for all of us to use. It’s well-researched, well-written, in depth and something weekly newspapers like us were not always able to have before. We’re looking forward to more content from the Center, as well as helping them with any investigative pieces we can.”
Jim Winter, former editor, DeForest Times-Tribune

“Here is a copy of Sunday’s Shawano Leader, with the boating story WCIJ provided. Based on your research, I was able to make two other graphics and write a sidebar that made an excellent Sunday package for our paper. As boating is big around here, this was a very timely story for our readers. My thanks to you and your reporters…”
– Kent Tempus, former editor, The Shawano Leader

“This is a great story – thank you so much!! What an awesome Web site, too – I look forward to following your news. When our budgets continue to be cut, I’m especially grateful to be able to add such an enterprising piece to our community paper without sacrificing another aspect of the paper.
Thanks again, I know our readers will enjoy!”
– Maureen Mayrand, editor, Elkhorn Independent

“The collaboration with the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism allows The Country Today to do something that would have been very difficult to do with our small staff and weekly deadline constraints. It’s a win-win for us, our readers and the center – we can work together on an important project.”
– Jim Massey, editor, The Country Today

PLUS: Watch the Center’s Andy Hall, executive director; and Brant Houston, board of directors president, discuss the future of investigative journalism at the 2009 Future of Ethical Journalism Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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