WisconsinWeekly: Shrinking coastline, Trump real estate, Russian trolls — our former interns rock!

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Former WCIJ interns breaking news all over the planet

Of note: This week we highlight recent stories from some of the interns we trained over the past nine years. They include Tegan Wendland of New Orleans Public Radio. She produced a piece for the investigative news program Reveal about the lack of government help for Louisiana residents whose homes are being swallowed by rising waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Nick Penzenstadler of USA Today continues to break news about President Donald Trump’s private businesses. Alec Luhn of The Telegraph’s Moscow bureau investigated the Russian “troll factory” thought to be a source of propaganda during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Mario Koran of the Voice of San Diego exposed the widespread segregation in the city’s public schools. And freelancer Jacob Kushner wrote about crime — including murder — perpetrated by a police force in Kenya. Kushner, a Fulbright Fellow, is based in Berlin.

Congrats to them — and all 30 former WCIJ interns — who continue to make us proud!

WisconsinWeekly is produced by us, Andy and Dee J. Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Andy is the executive director and Dee is the managing editor.

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Louisiana says thousands should move from vulnerable coast, but can’t pay them

NPR — Jan. 4, 2018

Tegan Wendland, a reporter at the Center from 2012 to 2014, reports on the thousands of Louisiana households that are being encouraged to move from coastlines where flooding due to damage from oil companies and hurricanes is threatening the already-shrinking land. The state crafted a plan to buy out the most vulnerable coastal homes, but officials say there is no money to put it  into action.

Trump sold $35M in real estate in 2017, mostly to secretive buyers

USA TODAY — Jan. 10, 2018

Our 2010 intern, Nick Penzenstadler, found that the president’s companies sold more than $35 million in real estate in 2017, mostly to secretive shell companies that obscure buyers’ identities. Trump’s real estate clients have increasingly used this tactic to obscure their identities since his nomination, with the rate of use skyrocketing from 4 percent to 70 percent in the year after the nomination.

Inside the Russian ‘troll factory’ that reached millions of US voters with inflammatory ads

The Telegraph — Oct. 20, 2017

Alec Luhn, a reporter at the Center in 2010, reports from St. Petersburg, Russia on the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election via social media. Employees at the “troll factory” were encouraged to post inflammatory comments and ads on social media that targeted key states such as Wisconsin and Michigan before the election. The factory spent nearly $5,420 per month to promote social media posts and at least $3,387 per month to organize demonstrations in the United States, Luhn found.

The Learning Curve: Eight of the state’s most segregated schools are in San Diego

Voice of San Diego — Dec. 14, 2017

Mario Koran, an intern at the Center from 2012 to 2013, details how eight of California’s most segregated schools are in the San Diego area. However, parents in these school districts aren’t pushing for more integrated schools. Instead, unhappy parents are moving their kids to charter schools, where some say segregation is even worse.

In Kenya’s Baringo County, police raid, burn and murder

Al Jazeera — Aug. 28, 2017

Our 2009 intern, Jacob Kushner, reports on Baringo County in Kenya, where violence by police is commonplace. In one instance, police who raided a village burned down homes, stole livestock and murdered an 80-year-old man. Journalists and other observers can have a hard time getting to rural parts of Kenya, which makes it difficult to find hard evidence of the crimes committed by police in such remote areas.

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