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How Wisconsin’s watchdogs kept their home

July 2, 2013

By Anna Clark

DETROIT, MI — The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism scored a big win over the weekend, as Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, vetoed a budget provision approved by GOP legislators that would have expelled the nonprofit newsroom from its offices at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The measure, passed in early June at the conclusion of a marathon overnight session, also would have prohibited university employees from doing any work related to the WCIJ.

Policies about shared agreements at the university “should be set by the regents and… shouldn’t be set specific to just this particular program,” Walker said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Walker’s decision comes after a sustained advocacy push by the center. But rather than simply sighing with relief, WCIJ is now launching a drive for its new Education Fund, which will support an existing paid internship program—one of the hallmarks of the center’s collaboration with the university’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The center is also sharing lessons from the episode that other young investigative newsrooms might take to heart. The first of these is the importance of building a network of allies. This might seem tricky for a team of journalists that specializes in aggressive accountability journalism—not necessarily the friend-making business. But Andy Hall, WCIJ executive director, said that the center’s network is effectively what stayed its eviction. Read the rest of the story at the Columbia Journalism Review.

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