Investigative Journalism Group May Have To Leave UW-Madison


The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (WCIJ) might have to leave its offices on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted early this morning to prohibit the UW from housing WCIJ, and to bar any UW employee from doing work related to the organization. WCIJ is a nonprofit investigative news organization that’s funded through grants and private donations.

UW-Madison journalism school director Greg Downey says the journalism department provides space to WCIJ, and it provides paid internships to students. He calls this morning’s motion an assault on academic freedom.

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“There are a lot of big important issues as stake. This is not just about one small center or two rooms in a 1970s building on campus. This is about whether the UW-Madison is really able to stand behind the ‘Wisconsin Idea,’ of making sure our education and our research connect with what’s going on in the state.”

In early morning debate, Democratic Senator Bob Wirch said the measure was “bad public policy.’ But amendment co-sponsor Republican State Representative John Nygren disagreed.

“I think if we were talking about Fox News, MacIver Institute, [or] MediaTrackers that providing state facilities, state support for one of those organizations, you might have a little different view on that. We’re just being consistent. We shouldn’t be providing resources to this organization.”

Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television are collaborating partners with WCIJ, and are part of the UW-System.