“Wanted: A few kind words.”

With that email subject line, we reached out to journalists, educators, former interns and the public, asking: “Would you be willing to write a sentence or so about the value of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s work?”

We’re honored to share their messages with you. (Note, before we were known as “Wisconsin Watch” our name was the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and many of the testimonials reflect that name.)

We welcome further statements, as well as suggestions and of course financial support to sustain Wisconsin Watch’s journalism and training of current and future investigative journalists!


“The Center is a critical component of Wisconsin journalism whose work extends and improves the vital function of educating state residents and serving as their advocates. It helps to ensure the healthy functioning of our representative democracy. Journalists at the Center have helped build an increasingly strong watchdog press corps in Wisconsin that looks out for the greater good and serves as check on obfuscation and corruption. Additionally, the Center has become a tremendous training ground for young journalists. We have hired many whose first real reporting experience was at the Center and whose work reflects the commitment to high-quality work of the utmost integrity.”
Joel Christopher, former vice president of news, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin; now executive editor, Louisville Courier-Journal

“As the editor of a weekly newspaper, we have availed ourselves of the services of the WCIJ on numerous occasions, using investigative pieces written by WCIJ staff that we wouldn’t have the time or resources to dig out on our own. We can always count on these stories being well-researched and professionally written. … We collaborated with the WCIJ several years ago on a series of stories on the role of immigrant workers on dairy farms. We were able to feed sources and information from our staff to WCIJ reporters who spent the time necessary to flesh out the story. It was an award-winning series when it was completed. Not only does the WCIJ increase the quality and quantity of investigative reporting in Wisconsin, but it also helps train future generations of investigative journalists.”
Jim Massey, retired editor, The Country Today

“I would like to offer my unqualified endorsement of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism as an organization that is crucial to the vibrancy of aggressive and fair investigative journalism in our state. Under the leadership of Andy and Dee Hall, the center not only produces superb work while training a new generation of investigative reporters, but also selflessly counsels our organization in ways that enhance the overall cause of investigative journalism. The center is a state-­level model, I think, for the fight to retain and extend skills that are endangered due to challenges facing business models that have supported journalism for decades. For that they are to be thanked, and supported.”
Paul Fanlund, publisher, The Capital Times

“The Center’s reporting on numerous issues that face the state and its residents provides a necessary source of rigorous and trustworthy information during a time when this type of journalism is declining in the broader media environment.  Of particular importance is the Center’s approach to disseminating its work, encouraging media organizations around the state to republish its stories in order to reach and engage audiences with greater geographic and demographic breadth. Overall, this model of producing journalism aligns with the concept and goal of the Wisconsin Idea, and serves the people of the state by providing them serious information about timely issues.”
Kristian Knutsen, managing editor, WisContext

“Very few organizations today produce the quality and insightful journalism the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism produces. It’s imperative that we continue support and promote their work.”
Dante Viscarra, Founder, La Comunidad News, Madison

“I am so pleased the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism continues its outstanding work within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. My students have served as interns with WCIJ, and … I’m proud of my association with them and their contributions to journalism in this state.”
Katy Culver, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Associate Director, Center for Journalism Ethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“I’ve worked with Andy Hall and the staff at WCIJ ever since WCIJ began operating out of our School of Journalism & Mass Communication. My students — both undergraduate and graduate — finish internships there and emerge professional-level journalists. The Center’s important work represents the ideal journalism we teach at the School. As a former journalist, as a professor of journalism students, and as a citizen, I feel grateful for the Center’s existence every time I come across another of its thorough, relevant, accurate, and well-written projects.”
Sue Robinson, Professor, Director of the MA Professional Journalism Program, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“WCIJ is a bright light in an increasingly opaque landscape, where we no longer have enough journalists to illuminate the murky corners of our society. We NEED this type of surveillance to maintain as transparent a culture as possible.”
Sharon Dunwoody, Evjue Bascom Professor Emerita, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Andy and Dee were the very first people to trust me with an investigative story, guiding me through the process of making open records requests, preparing for potentially heated interviews and rigorously fact-checking the final report. While Dee is always available to provide guidance and maintains involvement with dozens of projects at once, she makes it a point to give reporters space to own their stories and learn the process for themselves. Young reporters rarely get the luxury of working on long-term investigations early in their careers, let alone as students, which is why WCIJ is such an important place. WCIJ instilled in me an investigative mindset, which prepared me for internships at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the AP and, as a result, changed the trajectory of my career. Interns who work at WCIJ also get a front-row seat to the intricacies of running a nonprofit newsroom. Watching Andy and Lauren make strategic decisions about how to maximize WCIJ’s limited resources and position the organization for a long and successful existence should have qualified as a graduate-level course in itself. WCIJ staff members also elevate the quality of journalism school courses by visiting classes to share real-world wisdom, such as Coburn’s crash course in photojournalism based on her time with National Geographic and NPR.”
Cara Lombardo, Reporter, The Wall Street Journal

“WCIJ provided an opportunity for me to work on some of the most in-depth work of my career. Their continued growth is a direct result of the impactful and important journalism they do on a daily basis and a testament to the hard work of their reporters and editors.”
Lukas Keapproth, staff photographer and marketing coordinator, Loyola University

“The WCIJ internship greatly improved my writing and interviewing skills, taught me to think about data and social media in new ways, taught me to handle feedback from editors, and gave me the confidence I needed to ultimately launch my own writing business. Most important were the uncompromising compassion and ethics of the entire WCIJ team when working together and interviewing sources. Their example continues to inspire me as a medical journalist writing daily about serious health issues and conditions.”
Amy Karon, freelance medical journalist

“WCIJ offered a taste into impactful watchdog work that doesn’t take hours or days– but months to tease out trends and develop sources. I still think our project on high school recruiting holds up as one of my more innovative projects, and I use it as an example for data tutorials today.”
Nick Penzenstadler, Investigative reporter and project manager, USA TODAY

“The staff I learned from and the skills I acquired from WCIJ turned my dream of becoming a journalist into a real-life possibility. In the changing nature of the industry, it’s not enough to be a good writer or reporter, but to understand data, documents and use your reporting to have an impact among the many, many voices in media. WCIJ made this possible for me and countless other young people like myself.”
Madeleine Behr, Reporter, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

“We use content from the Center, and we have used it since it started. The content is extremely good. It really brings information to our rural readers that we would never be able to get on our own. And we have worked with the Center on stories. I just can’t say enough about them. And it’s very important to rural Wisconsin. … The stories on water are unbelievably well received by our readership, and we would never have access to things like that if it wasn’t for the Center.”
Charlie Preuser, editor of the Crawford County Independent and the Kickapoo Scout

“I like WCIJ because they provide great content. We use either the long or the short forms of every story, and a lot of the photos, and it’s fantastic content. It’s relevant to our audience. We find the content valuable because it has to do with state issues.”
Chris Mertes, managing editor of the Sun Prairie Star

“We rely on the thorough, in-depth reporting of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism to provide our readers with news and information about our state that we can’t provide them with ourselves. We routinely publish WCIJ stories in our weekend papers and throughout the week.”
Mark Pitsch, former state editor, Wisconsin State Journal

“The twice-weekly Review highly values the Center’s excellent reporting of statewide issues which are relevant to our readers but beyond our ability to conduct. One example is the widespread problem of lead in drinking water, which is of  definite concern to Sheboygan County Health officials who encourage free testing … Each of these large-scale investigative efforts has a distinctly local flavor and adds significant value to our newspaper.”
Barry and Christie Johanson, publishers, The Plymouth Review

“It’s a great resource. We use it as a teaching tool at work. We read everything that’s sent out. It’s one of the best things that is out there — especially for a newspaper with a limited staff. We can use it, learn from it — everything else. We’re very happy that it’s around.”
Pat Riley, Wisconsin Newspaper Association board member and co-owner of the Dodgeville Chronicle, the Democrat-Tribune and the Pecatonica Valley Leader

“The reason this is important to me is we don’t really have the staff to be able to investigate, research. We don’t have the sources in Madison … that’s why it’s very important to us to be able to have those stories. We use them whenever we can and whenever it’s of interest in our part of the state.”
John Ingibritsen, publisher, Morris Newspaper Corp., owner of 10 weekly newspapers in Wisconsin

“The WCIJ has an excellent record of providing in-depth timely investigative reports to every media outlet in the state of Wisconsin. Their reporting is very thorough and accurate and provides information to the public that would otherwise not be reported or only available to a small portion of the state. In a time when large newspaper have had to cut staff, WCIJ has become the support team in continuing the costly process of investigative journalism. The smaller community newspapers are now able to let their readers know about the serious issues facing the state. The topics they have covered in the past have been vital in informing the public of things that are wrong or need fixing, things every person in Wisconsin should know and care about.”
Carol O’Leary, former president, Wisconsin Newspaper Association, publisher, the Star News, Medford

“WCIJ is a vitally important part of the media ecosystem in Wisconsin. It addition to producing great journalism, the Center also serves as a training ground for the next generation of investigative reporters and newsroom leaders. In the coming years, Wisconsin Public Radio hopes to build on the already strong relationship we have with WCIJ.”
Noah Ovshinsky, managing editor, Wisconsin Public Radio

“I highly recommend the work that WCIJ is doing. They have done excellent investigative journalism and have led the way on numerous stories. Indeed, it’s not possible to fully understand the state without the work of WCIJ. Urban Milwaukee proudly runs their stories, which get good readership and provoke interesting comments.”
Bruce Murphy, editor, UrbanMilwaukee.com

“We frequently use WCIJ for news stories that we wouldn’t be able to cover ourselves. They use their resources to provide statewide coverage that can also be localized, and we find that very valuable to our newspaper and to our readers.”
Aaron Holbrook, editor, Beaver Dam Daily Citizen

“WCIJ is a fantastic organization. We were ecstatic when we saw it created. We’ve been gratified by the opportunity to use a number of the pieces as they have come to us over the past two to three years, and we anticipate being able to use it a lot more. One of the things it does for us is expand our reach by bringing stories to us that we might not be able to get to but we could take the basics and the outline of WCIJ’s work and localize that to make that relevant and meaningful to our particular audience. So, we’re very happy with it.”
Bill Barth, editor, Beloit Daily News

“I really appreciate all of the work you guys have done with your ‘Failure at the Faucet’ series. What an awesome idea for a series. I have used a lot of the information you have provided in the ongoing series of articles I have been writing about Lake Mills’ issues with water. I also appreciate the non-partisan nature of your articles. In a time where news organizations are constantly being called ‘liberal’ and being mistrusted, I don’t think anyone can say that about Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. The topics the center chooses to cover are fascinating and enlightening. Seriously, keep up the good work.”
Matthew Gardner, managing editor, Lake Mills Leader

“The powerful, insightful and carefully researched special reports managed by Andy Hall and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism continue to generate buzz and spur meaningful policy reform across our state. The Center’s reports have exposed various harmful chemicals and pollutants that affect our water quality and our way of life. Other reports uncover questionable legislative action from our state’s Capitol.”
John Ferak, Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team Editor, The Post-Crescent Media, Appleton

“As someone who grew up in Wisconsin, I appreciate how WCIJ’s fine work keeps me connected to the land of corn and cheese — but more importantly, as a journalist I respect their unwavering commitment to telling the whole story. WisconsinWatch.org is setting the standard in quality coverage of government and public policy. While too many in the media vie for attention with overblown commentary, the nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism gets noticed for solid work that gets the story right.”
Dylan Smith, Editor & Publisher, TucsonSentinel.com, Chairman, Local Independent Online News Publishers

“There is very little investigative journalism in the press. WCIJ trains folks to become a new generation of journalists who resist just regurgitating ads or reprinting AP articles or relying on infotainment in the place of news. Without places like WCIJ our hope for a critically thinking press would be just a pipe dream.”
Kris Doan, Embarrass, Wis.

“WisconsinWatch.org is doing very important and innovative work. We need organizations such as these to step into the challenge of doing great journalism in new ways.”
Joaquin Alvarado, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, Center for Investigative Reporting, Berkeley, Calif.

“When it comes to good journalism, there can’t be too much of it. As journalists and citizens, we are extremely fortunate to have the WCIJ as a news force dedicated solely to investigating matters of high public interest. That they share their work for free with news organizations throughout the state and country makes them even more of a resource to value and support.”
Dan Simmons, reporter, Wisconsin State Journal, Madison

“Thank you for being there to help in the Sisyphean task of providing the news on a budget!”
Jim Lundstrom, Editor, Peninsula Pulse and Door County Living

“Independent investigative reporting is absolutely essential for a free society. Information and critical thinking must be preserved.”
Rosemary Zurlo-Cuva, Writer, poet, journalist, writing coach, Madison, Wis.

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism produces accurate, timely work that aids local newspapers who do not have the time and staff to probe some complicated issues in their communities. Our experience working with the Center was very positive when it did an investigative piece on foreign student workers in the community.”
Kay James, Editor, Wisconsin Dells Events

“The preamble to the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics: ‘…public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.’ This is the very definition of how I feel about the continuing work of WCIJ in Madison, WI. If they have reported on it, I know it to be a true, thorough and accurate account of the story. WCIJ holds my trust.”
Robyn Shingler, Shawano, Wis.

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is one of the most exciting experiments going on the United States, on the restructuring of journalism practices as they seek to adapt to an emerging media ecology. Beyond being a fabulous training venue for UW-Madison students, the Center may provide a model to expand public affairs journalism, in an era of scarce resources and great need for independent investigative reporting.”
Hernando Rojas, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program, UW-Madison, Associate Director, Center for Communication & Democracy, UW-Madison, Director, Center for Political Communication Research, Colombia, Associate, Singapore Internet Research Center

“In the work we do together, we advance the Wisconsin Idea, or ‘the principle that the university should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom.’”
Greg Downey, Director, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“To be sure, the Center has brought to light numerous issues of major importance to the public. But it has done more. It stands as proof that an independent, nonprofit model of doing journalism can succeed, serve as an invaluable learning laboratory for journalism students, and provide a model for how challenging and sometimes controversial work can be done with the highest of ethical standards.”
Robert Drechsel, Director, Center for Journalism Ethics, Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“As the Operations Manager and Local Talk Show host of a talk radio station, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism provides some of the best, nonpartisan reporting on state issues available. In an ever-changing media landscape, investigative reporting and in-depth research is becoming harder to find, making the traditional values of journalism exhibited by the WCIJ that much more critical to good reporting on events by media outlets. I value the partnership greatly as a part of our operations.”
Timothy W. Bremel, Host of “Your Talk Show” on WCLO, WCLO/WJVL Operations Manager, Janesville

“Now more than ever, with print and electronic newsrooms decimated after years of layoffs and downsizings, the work done by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is critical, providing the kind of news which is often hard to come by in local media. Often, the experienced newsroom professionals who mentored younger reporters are no longer there. The work the WCIJ does to develop young reporters is key to maintaining a high standard of journalism and flow of information to the public. The stories the WCIJ has developed over the past few years illustrate the importance of ferreting out the ‘story behind the story’ and getting the unvarnished facts to the public.”
Tim Morrissey, Public News Service Writer/Producer, Wisconsin News Connection

“The work performed by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism would have pleased the namesake of the Evjue Foundation, William T. Evjue, the late founder and longtime editor and publisher of The Capital Times. No one was a bigger advocate of the watchdog role that an effective press must play if America’s democracy is to work effectively. In a time of limited resources and changing roles in the news industry, the WCIJ has stepped in to maintain that crucial watchdog role. In the name of its founder, the Evjue Foundation is pleased to help.”
Dave Zweifel, Evjue Foundation board member, Editor Emeritus, The Capital Times, Madison

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is an invaluable resource for the state. In an era of shrinking newsroom budgets, they tell important stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told. Their reporting is thorough, accurate, and incisive. Keep up the good work!”
Dean Robbins, Children’s Author, Scholastic, Knopf, Candlewick, Freelance Writer, Senior University Relations Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is a crucial resource for newspapers throughout the state. In a down economy when layoffs are taking place and staff responsibilities are being overloaded, it is incredibly appreciated to have a responsible, reliable, and thorough news source there to be your sideline reporters. Their writings improve the content and quality of our products, and we cannot give enough praise to this awesome, worthwhile collaboration!”
Tricia Rose, Owner/Publisher, Clintonville Chronicle, Manawa Messenger, Iola Independent, Trucker Times

“With the state’s major newspapers cutting back in staff over the past decade, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has filled an important niche in covering statewide issues that otherwise would receive little or no attention.”
Jeff Seering, Editor, Reedsburg Independent

“As I have written in my capacity as a journalism educator at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, ‘journalism has changed radically in the early 21st century, but there will always be a need for the journalist who pursues the best obtainable version of the truth and tells a compelling story.’ The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism provides clear, in-depth explanations of how government works and of the influences from the private sector that result in policies and actions the public needs to understand. The Center’s work will become even more important as the media struggle to develop a viable business model to support proficient and ethical journalism.”
Arthur L. Ranney, Chair, Department of Media Studies, Chair, UUCC, Advisor, Exponent, Advisor, WSUP-FM, University of Wisconsin-Platteville

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism helps to serve an important need in today’s fast-paced world of news and information gathering. All too often, journalists of today are focused on ‘getting it first, rather than getting it right.’ The core values and the strong educational mission of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism serve both a public interest (in reporting on important stories) and an even more noble value — insuring that today’s young journalists are properly taught how to research, analyze data and create important and interesting long format pieces. The Center is a shining star in the Wisconsin journalism community.”
Judy Frankel, Judge, Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics, Director, Madison Writer’s Network

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is fast becoming one of our most treasured resources. The depth and quality of the Center’s research and its willingness to work collaboratively with community journalists make it invaluable. Simply put, our readers are more well informed – on issues ranging from tax increment financing to pesticide drift – because of it.”
Matt Geiger, Editor, Middleton Times-Tribune and Mount Horeb Mail

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is an invaluable tool for newspapers and other media across the state. For example, its forays into the world of sand mining give important and balanced perspective for people – like those in Trempealeau and Jackson counties, where we are – who are on the front lines of the industrial sand industry and the continuing debate surrounding the extraction, processing, shipping and use of this product.”
Lee Henschel, Editor, The Blair Press

“I am in awe of the work the Center does. Their articles are the kind of thing we would all like to do more of, if we had the time. So, the Center deserves many kudos for its efforts to keep print journalism alive and well in Wisconsin.”
Kevin O’Brien, Editor, Tribune-Phonograph, Abbotsford

“WCIJ offers an important public service by bringing to light issues that are buried or overlooked. Intelligence and integrity are cornerstone’s of the Center’s work. And it’s an honor to be a part of the WCIJ team.”
Nora G. Hertel, Former investigative Reporting Intern, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

“Wisconsin benefits immensely from the work of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. In addition to fostering a spot for high-caliber investigative journalists to tell important stories from around the state, the Center’s dedication to training and developing reporters for the future is an incredibly important job. And they do it extremely well.”
Ellen Gabler, Investigative Reporter, New York Times

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism provides in-depth investigative stories informing readers on issues as varied as herbicide drift to electrical use at state park campgrounds. Work done by those at the Center is objective and impartial. It adheres to the highest standards in journalism. The Center’s role, educating and training journalists to serve as watchdogs for the public, is critical in a fluid, evolving era of new technologies. The Center provides Wisconsin’s weekly newspapers with quality content, often local in origin, which is beyond the scope of coverage that could be provided by community journalists busy with other work.”
Matt Johnson, Managing Editor, Vernon County Broadcaster, River Valley Newspaper Group

“The work done by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has been a great addition to our newspaper, providing in-depth coverage of topics not only important to our community but to our state. When possible, we localize their work, providing even more relevant coverage for our readers. The accuracy and thoroughness of the Center’s work is top-notch.”
Chris Hardie, Executive Editor/Weekly Newspaper and Shoppers Publisher, River Valley Newspapers, La Crosse

“The WCIJ takes a hard look at issues and programs that affect state residents and otherwise may not get attention beyond uninformed speculation on the part of the public and government officials. The Center’s work goes beyond the policy statements and general opinions about a program or agency, public or private, and sheds fair light on potential problems that need solutions. Those ultimately responsible for making things work in Wisconsin sometimes need a nudge in that direction, and the Center helps get the process, along with the dialogue, moving through its reporting.”
Dan Roherty, Print operations editor, Post-Crescent Media, Appleton

“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism provides on a consistent basis content that is timely, balanced and relevant. Their content allows me to give my readers in depth coverage of regional and statewide issues that I could not get anywhere else. They are a wonderful addition to my paper.”
Tom Stangl, Editor and Publisher, Amery Free Press

“We all should be supporting WisconsinWatch.org.”
Walt Bogdanich, Investigative Reporter and Editor, The New York Times, UW-Madison graduate, three-time Pulitzer winner,

“As a twice-weekly publication, we don’t always have the space to run WCIJ’s stories as often as we’d like. But whenever we do, we inevitably hear people in the community talking about them — and even debating the issues raised. I think that means that your journalists are doing a bang-up job of providing us with well-rounded articles that both make us think and initiate good discussions.”
Barbara Lyon, Editor, Dunn County News

Former intern Alec Luhn sent in a video testimonial — from the men’s halfpipe final at the Sochi Olympics!

Two of our amazing former interns sent in video testimonials about how much their Center experiences meant to them.

Here’s Jacob Kushner — squeezed into a train car in Kenya.

And Lukas Keapproth shared this video from a snowy Lambeau Field.