The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism won top investigative and public service awards for stories published in 2018 at Friday’s Milwaukee Press Club Gridiron Dinner. In all, Wisconsin Watch received eight gold, five silver and two bronze awards for stories, photos, audio reports and a documentary.
Some of the awards were won in conjunction with University of Wisconsin-Madison students or Wisconsin Public Radio, which works closely with Wisconsin Watch to produce in-depth online and audio news reports. Collaborations with Madison Magazine, Twelve Letter Films and the Chicago Sun-Times also earned honors.
“It is gratifying to see the number of undergraduate and graduate students we have trained and mentored be recognized in this prestigious professional journalism contest,” said Andy Hall, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. “Many of our investigative reports also were produced in collaboration with other media. These are two of our core goals: training future journalists and increasing the quality and quantity of investigative journalism.”
Wisconsin Watch earned awards in the following categories:
Best Investigative Story or Series: The Countering Concussions series explored the impact of brain injuries in sports. Reporters Luke Schaetzel and Emily Hamer, Digital and Multimedia Director Coburn Dukehart, photographer Brad Horn and Managing Editor Dee J. Hall contributed to the series.
Best Investigative Story or Series (online): In Losing Track, Wisconsin Watch’s Riley Vetterkind exposed false alerts in Wisconsin’s GPS monitoring system that land offenders in jail when their equipment malfunctions. Dukehart contributed photos to the series.
Best Public Service Story or Series: Our series on the potential vulnerabilities in Wisconsin’s election system was reported by Grigor Atanesian with photographs by Dukehart and editing and reporting assistance from Hall.
Best Consumer Story or Series: Reporter Peter Coutu revealed the suspicious circumstances surrounding some repeat winners of the Wisconsin Lottery.
Best Explanatory Story or Series (online): Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Alexandra Hall, in collaboration with Dee J. Hall of Wisconsin Watch, explored the sometimes contentious role of so-called independent medical examiners in the state worker’s compensation system.
Best Use of Multi-Platform Reporting: The story, told online and in audio, revealed that state regulators skirted environmental rules in approving a controversial golf course along Lake Michigan. The story was reported by Wisconsin Public Radio’s Sarah Whites-Koditschek with photographs by Dukehart.
Best Business Story or Series (online): Reporter Belle Lin teamed up with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Alexandra Arriaga (a former Wisconsin Watch intern) to expose a network of labor agencies that send undocumented Latinos to Asian restaurants across the Midwest, where they are often underpaid and overworked.
Best Public Service Story or Series (online): Reporter Dee J. Hall revealed questions about the effectiveness of Wisconsin’s work requirement for FoodShare recipients. Dukehart produced photos for the story.
Best Documentary: Dukehart and Andy Hall from Wisconsin Watch, WPR’s Alexandra Hall, in partnership with Jim Cricchi and Susan Peters of Twelve Letter Films, explored the challenges for undocumented dairy workers and farmers under President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in “Los Lecheros” (Dairy Farmers).
Best Photo Essay or Series: Dukehart and Hamer teamed up to photograph December’s “extraordinary” lame duck session of the Wisconsin Legislature.
Best Explanatory Story or Series (online): Wisconsin Public Radio’s Rich Kremer worked with Wisconsin Watch to produce a story exposing gaps in the state’s efforts to curb chronic wasting disease.
Best News Photograph: Hamer’s photograph features hands of protesters pressed against the glass of the hearing room door as lawmakers debate measures during the Legislature’s controversial session in December.
Best Long Hard Feature Story (audio): Wisconsin Public Radio’s Alexandra Hall, in partnership with Wisconsin Watch, explored the sometimes contentious role of so-called independent medical examiners in the state worker’s compensation system.
Best Feature Photograph: Dukehart’s image, “Kissed by a calf,” captures a light-hearted moment during a day in the life of a Wisconsin dairy farm.
Best Short Hard Feature Story (audio): Kremer’s radio story about chronic wasting disease in collaboration with Wisconsin Watch was honored with a bronze award.
Wisconsin Watch staff also contributed to Madison Magazine’s silver award in the public service category. The story, written by Maggie Ginsburg with contributions from Dee J. Hall and Dukehart, explores why sexual assault numbers on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus vastly understate the problem.
Since its launch in 2009, the Center has won 77 honors from the Milwaukee Press Club, which runs Wisconsin’s premiere all-media journalism contest.