Wisconsin legislators ban university from collaborating with independent investigative journalism center

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is a non-profit that gets its funding from private donors, foundations, and news organizations. But it's also operated out of offices on the campus of the University of Wisconsin - Madison and students from the school have had access to paid internships and other perks of the University and the WCIJ working together. Early Wednesday morning, the Wisconsin legislature's Joint Finance Committee put a stop to that nonsense — kicking the WCIJ off campus and prohibiting professors from working with the center.

No explanation has been given. Although, as Inside Higher Ed points out, the co-chair of that committee (and the person who introduced the bill) is State Rep. John Nygren — who was a key figure in a 2011 WCIJ story about how the auto insurance industry was influencing legislation through donations to representatives, including Nygren.


    1. I feel bad for the people in Wisconsin that tried to fight against Republican rule but lost against a tide of ignorant people on the right and left.

      I remember when many on the left throughout the USA mocked people in Wisconsin that tried to remove Walker.  Fuck them.

      Now since Walker has implemented his austerity agenda, job growth has stalled and Wisconsin has dropped to 44th place nationally in job creation.

      Now the emboldened republicans are pulling this crap.
      Surprise. Surprise.

      I just feel bad for the people in Wisconsin that don’t deserve it and fought against these assholes. The rest are getting what they deserve, IMO.

    1. Is mandatory Auto insurance such a bad thing?  If you hit someone and send them to the hospital the bills can very quickly hit 6 figures.  That’s ruinous to most Americans.  If you go bankrupt do they pull the plug on your victim? 

      Now if you are forced to insure cars that aren’t driven (show cars and the like) then that’s a different story, but if you’re out on the street hurling many tons of metal around, there is always the chance for injury or death. 

      1. Yes, it is bad.  It’s forced usury.  Insurance is a scam.  I’ve been in three accidents in Wisconsin, the other driver was at fault all three times.  I never saw a penny or had the damage to my car paid for in any way.  Them’s the breaks.  

        If you want insurance, by all means pay to cover yourself.  And while it would be nice, I would never expect anybody else to pay for the damage to my vehicle.

        1. If you’re gonna rail against insurance, at least get the crime correct:  racketeering.  “Mighty nice car you got there.  Be a shame if something happened to it.”

          If you didn’t get a dime out of the other driver’s insurance, then you’re doing it wrong or you have the crapiest insurance money can buy.  Besides, it could be worse, you could live in Michigan, with the highest auto insurance rates in the US thanks to No-Fault, no-cap Lifetime Medical, and repeal of the motorcycle helmet law.

          1. Yes, absolutely this is desirable.  You want insurance, pay for it.  You want to be covered in case of an accident, pay for it.  If your willing to take the risk, take the risk.

          2. >> Yes, absolutely this is desirable.  You want insurance, pay for it.  You
            want to be covered in case of an accident, pay for it.  If your willing
            to take the risk, take the risk.

            What if I just fucking want to drive to work without risking bankruptcy because some uninsured idiot hits my car? 

            How ’bout: You want to drive on public  roads, you buy insurance.

        2. If the other drivers were insured, there’s something more here we’re not hearing as to why you never saw a penny in 3 separate cases. 

          If they weren’t insured…well…that’s kind of the point, isn’t it.

        3. I’m confused, if the other driver was declared at fault for the accident, how in the world did their insurance weasel out of paying for your damages?!?  That’s the primary purpose of insurance, the thing they’re required to do.  If they don’t pay, then your insurance company should be taking them to court.  That’s how the system works. 

          Or were the other drivers uninsured?  Getting hit by an uninsured driver sucks, you had better hope you didn’t decline the uninsured driver coverage on your policy if that happens or you’re paying out of pocket, which if you spent any time in the hospital probably means bankruptcy. 

          1. What insurance?  Of course all the other drivers were uninsured, nobody in Wisconsin drives with auto insurance unless you have a new car and it is required by your financing.  

            And as for the hospital in Wisconsin at least if you are in need they have to provide care, with or without insurance.  I have never paid a medical bill in my life, and I never plan on it.  Go to the hospital, give a fake name, fake social security number, fake address.  I dont participate in systems like insurance, or credit, or anything else of the sort.  I am an anarchist, and I am quite happy living that way.  

          2. You are not doing a very good job of selling the insurance shouldn’t be mandatory viewpoint.

          3. A thing that tends to come with the mandatory auto insurance requirement is providing proof of coverage when you renew your tags and license.  Have fun with the giant fines for expired tags, your inevitable license suspension/expiration, and probably jail time for the bench warrant you’re going to get for failure to pay your fines.

          4. Oh, so you’re the reason that emergency departments are hemorrhaging money and overcharging people who actually pay for services rendered bankrupting them in the process.

            People like you give anarchy a bad name.

    1. Oh, don’t worry, it’s not just our state.  There are a lot of people who live their lives in a fact-free state, and somehow manage to muddle their way through it all.  Both parties are guilty of this to varying degrees.

  1. Strange that people would want to have a clearly leftist organization operating on a public campus.  Well, this is Madison, so not so strange.  But why support more partisanship by encouraging biased behavior in journalism?  They have the bucks from private organizations (including George Soros) and should never have been welcomed on the campus in the first place.

    1. This based on Stephen Colbert’s aphorism “Reality has a well established liberal bias”?

      EDIT: I forgot to congratulate you on your first boingboing post.

          1.  Not that “first timers aren’t welcome” but there do seem to be a strange number of people making Disqus accounts apparently for the purpose of smearing liberals and liberalism.

          2. So differing opinions aren’t welcome.  Got it.  Because clearly when people are disagreeing with you means they are smearing you.  Got it.

          3.  @libertarianwisco:disqus That’s not what I said.  I’m not terribly surprised you’re putting words in my mouth, though.  Conservatives never seem to be able to win arguments on merit and pretty much always resort to underhanded tactics.

          4. Welcomed?  You were not only welcomed–you were congratulated!

            Every libertarian/right wing troll has to start somewhere!

            And using the words “Leftist” and “George Soros” and “biased journalism” all in your very first try, too!  I see a bright, trolly future ahead for you, LibertarianWisco! Yes indeed!  (At least for the 1 to 7 days you keep this account before moving on to your next one!)

          5. I didn’t reply to you because I have nothing nice to say to you. 

            Out of curiosity, what corner of Wisconsin are you claiming to represent?  I’d prefer to avoid the place where all the Rugged Individualists are busy pummeling each other, trying to figure out exactly whom, out of all the Wealth Producers, is going to get stuck scrubbing toilets, forming concrete, framing buildings, installing utilities, operating the shit plant and flipping burgers.

          6. You’re on a generally liberal site that is often frequented by people of other stripes.  Single use disqus accounts are associated with astroturfers and trolls.  Folks who seem obsessed with Soros often go off on generic Glenn Beck inspired conspiratorial tangents, are mocked, they get mad and/or repetitive, and then their comments are deleted.  I invite you to prove our snap judgement wrong and back up your points with some data.  

        1.  >> ..and now, I smell a pinata!

          Aw, man.  I hate whacking pinatas made of astroturf.   Instead of delicious candy raining down, you just get an explosion of shit.

      1. You dance with the ones that brought you.  Money talks.  Everywhere.  If you think Fox news is bought and paid for my the Koch’s of the world, you also need to believe that people that take money from the Soros’ are bought and paid for as well.

          1. You missed my point and deflected.  Good try.  My point is when people pay for things, they get what they want.  Be it conservative or liberal.  Soros, Koch, Murdoch.  Money talks.

          2.  I didn’t miss your point or deflect.  I pointed out that your point is flawed.  I’m sorry you have so much trouble dealing with honest criticism.

            My point (which you did miss): no one is claiming that Fox news is corrupted by their funding.  The claim is that Fox news is biased because it’s creator and owner designed it as a propaganda mouthpiece rather than a journalistic outlet.  It’s not a question of outside money as you imply it is: it’s a question of the primary purpose of the organization.

        1. (cow quietly steps up to piñata)

          You dance with the ones that brought you.

          That’s deep, man.

          Money talks.  Everywhere.

          Right, but it isn’t heard equally, everywhere, either.Believe it or not, there’s entire groups of people that are working to quiet the money down.

          Educate yourself:


          Koch’s of the world, you also need to believe that people that take money from the Soros

          Hey, look.. another false equivalence.  Somehow I’m not surprised.

          The Koch brothers are extremely secretive and subversive.  Soros is radically more transparent.

          Journalists who try to interview the Koch brothers and their lackeys get stonewalled, while Soros and his lackeys will grant interviews and are far more transparent in their actions.

          I don’t like any megalomaniacal corporatist, but giving them all false equivalency is as foolhardy as it is misleading.

          Educate yourself:




          Once Soros starts funding against climate change science, let me know.

          Then again, with a name like “LibertarianWisco”, you may be yet another science-denier yourself.

      1. Look at where the money comes from.  Money corrupts, and the source of the money points the direction.  if these folks don’t do the kind of thing a guy like Soros likes, he stops funding them.  That is how things work. 


          Money corrupts,

          If you really believe that then why in the name of God’s Holy Wang are you a libertarian in the first place?

          1.  Especially strange is how s/he states it as though it were a metaphysical principle or something.  I think money tends to corrupt but I don’t think it’s a law of nature.

          2. The people who own things do what they want with them.  It can be no simpler than that.  When a non-profit organization takes money from people with agendas, they either bow to that agenda or loose funding.  You don’t donate to places that you disagree with.  
            Therefore, an institution that claims independence will be corrupted when it takes cash from an ideologue like Soros (or Koch, etc etc).  If you are fine with that, cool.  

            Of course the article was about kicking them off campus, nothing more.  

        1. So you can use this newly minted identity to go suggest that to your brethren on libertarian minded boards.  Go on, we’ll wait here.  

          1. Fear of new people with different opinions seems to be coin of the realm here.  It’s good to know.

          2. *calmly waiting for further details on newcomer’s opinion outside of investigative journalism being partisan liberal and  “Soros=Evil”*

          3. Edit: I was glib. I’m sorry if you felt I was being defensive. If we “get rid of them all”, how will we make up the shortfall in funding in public universities? New taxes?

    2. This “leftist” org wasn’t afraid to publish a piece a few years ago questioning the rail line liberals were all for: http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2009/07/21/questions-remain-as-state-pushes-ahead-with-rail-line/

      Among the center’s defenders in this is none other than crazy right winger Charlie Sykes: http://www.620wtmj.com/blogs/charliesykes/210335811.html

      As a nonprofit organization they require buck from private organizations to survive. I’m certain they would be just as happy to take Koch money as Soros money.

      Finally, considering the training they give to UW journalism students, making them very employable, I’d say they are doing more to help employment for Wisconsin than our Republican legislature and governor.

      (full disclosure, I am the UW j-school IT nerd)

      1.  Can’t help but notice @libertarianwisco:disqus  has yet to address this very salient argument.

        1. I’m still waiting for him/her to tell us what his/her neck of the woods is.  ఠ_ఠ

    3. It’d be one thing to draft legislation to prevent the use of offices by all non-school related organizations. It’s quite another to call out a specific organization on a specific campus in a state budget bill.

  2. Good typo on a post about journalism–they kicked them off campus.  Of course spell check wouldn’t get this one.

        1. More like snarky editors.

          “Here’s those edits, chief. By the way… great  job on so many typos for an article on  journali–”

        2. Yes it does. The commenters.

          Regrettably, it’s often from pedantic nitpickers who miss the greater point of the posts in the first place.

  3. Is Wisconsin following Kansas and Louisiana* down the road to being an educational joke? Such a shame if so, but this kind of meddling never looks good.

    *Special shout out to Virginia (my home state) on that one too, what with the harassment from Cuccinelli and the embarrassing incompetence of the UVA board.

  4. I suspect it’s just another plank in Scooter’s presidential platform – just think, maybe everyone else will get a chance to live with the special kind of crazy we’ve been trying to adjust to!

    1. Why on Earth would Walker believe he has a snowball’s chance in hell of making it even as far as the Iowa Caucus?

  5. It’s an especially vicious circle when you stop schools and journalists from investigating pollution.  Because then you have more wide-spread pollution and higher amounts of neurotoxins, and the next generation needs to work just a little harder to understand what’s going wrong.  

Comments are closed.