what happened here? UW “prohibited” from working with journalism non-profit?

A last-minute amendment to the state budget would prohibit (!!) UW faculty and employees from working with a non-profit investigative journalism center that has, in the past, been critical of state lawmakers:

A last-minute budget amendment would prevent the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism from operating out of an office on the UW-Madison campus [and] “prohibit UW employees from doing any work related to the Center for Investigative Journalism as part of their duties as a UW employee” [emphasis added]…. The two-sentence amendment to the budget was part of an omnibus motion that was introduced by the Republican co-chairs of the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and passed just before 6 a.m….  The reasons for the budget amendment are not clear. Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) [note: look for his name below] could not be reached Wednesday to clarify the intent of the proposal or to respond to concerns….

Full article here. The Journal-Sentinel provides some examples of the stories covered by WCIJ:

A commentary two weeks ago by the center’s Bill Lueders drew attention to donations accepted by state politicians from school choice supporters. In 2011, the center broke the story about state Supreme Court Justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley getting in a physical altercation. Conservatives were upset that that initial story did not include the perspective of conservative justices who later said that Bradley had advanced on Prosser before he put his hands on her neck….The same year, the center published an article that raised questions about an auto insurance bill supported by Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), an insurance agent and co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee.

Lest anyone think this is a liberal vs. conservative issue, even Wisconsin conservative icon and radio host Charlie Sykes thinks this is a “petty,” “vindictive,” and “dumb” idea:

But the fact is, the Center for Investigative Journalism does good work. Part of its job is to harass and annoy those in power and ask difficult questions and that makes political enemies on both sides of the aisle. That’s what a free press does.

Sykes goes on to list the number of important stories covered, fairly, by the WCIJ and calls for removal of the amendment or its veto by Gov. Walker.


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