Wisconsin Weekly: Disinformation creeps into Wisconsin ahead of high-stakes presidential election

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Information disorder; wait for jobless aid; postal woes; parking garage attacks; demanding broadband


Of note: This week we highlight Wisconsin Watch’s latest investigations as Wisconsin prepares for a high-stakes presidential election during the upheaval of a viral pandemic.

Reporters Max Witynski and Jessica Christoffer examine how disinformation — content that is intended to deceive — can spread on social media even after being widely exposed as false. The voter suppression tactic is creeping into Wisconsin, a major swing state. The story was an installment in our Narrow Margin series, in collaboration with a University of Wisconsin-Madison investigative journalism class taught by Wisconsin Watch Managing Editor Dee J. Hall. 

Meanwhile, WPR/Wisconsin Watch reporter Bram Sable-Smith chronicles the long, frustrating wait for Wisconsinites with disabilities who are applying for jobless benefits during the pandemic. He also joined Hall in examining how the U.S. Postal Service’s late deliveries are harming one Wisconsin business and triggering worries ahead of an election expected to be largely conducted by mail.

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Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Dave Bennett, left, and Jerry Burns, center, attend a class called “How ‘Fake’ is the News?” taught by Jack Mitchell at Christ Presbyterian Church. The class discussed how to identify misinformation in the news media.

Skepticism urged as disinformation, voter suppression wash over Wisconsin

Wisconsin Watch — August 15, 2020

In a top swing state, actors seek to misinform voters to gain advantage and sow chaos; the pandemic has fueled even more “information disorder.”

Courtesy of Jessica Barrera

Jessica Barrera, who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), lost her part-time job at Groome Transportation in Eau Claire due to the pandemic. She has yet to learn about the status of her application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to replace some of her lost wages.

Wisconsinites with disabilities see long wait for jobless aid, even after gaining eligibility

Wisconsin Watch/WPR — August 18, 2020

Many remain in limbo after Wisconsin said laid-off workers on federal disability may qualify for pandemic relief. One woman finally succeeded — after 32 emails.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Susan Brown boxes orders to be shipped from Chef Knives To Go, the business she runs with her husband in Fitchburg, Wisconsin has seen mail delays — including on delivery of absentee ballots — even before the controversial cost-cutting measures by new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

Lost packages and late ballots: Wisconsin’s postal woes predate Trump administration shakeup

Wisconsin Watch/WPR — August 20, 2020

Problems delivering absentee ballots before the April and August elections and delays in package delivery predate the controversial changes enacted under embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. These delays are worrying signs for mail-in voting in November.

Got lousy internet, Wisconsinite? Here’s a big idea to improve it.

The Badger Project — August 12, 2020

If you live in rural Wisconsin, you know how bad the internet service can be. More than 40% of rural residents lack access to high speed internet. If you want faster internet sooner rather than later, you can get involved. Here’s how.

Health care workers have been attacked in parking garages for decades. Why haven’t hospitals done more to make them safe?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — August 19, 2020

Even as health care companies have taken in billions in revenue, with some recording record profits, hospitals across the country have frequently allowed parking garages to go unstaffed, cameras unmonitored and nurses to fend for themselves, documents and interviews show.

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