Alexandria, VA – Jason Stverak, President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a national nonprofit journalism organization, released the following statement regarding a threat against WisconsinReporter.com, a Franklin Center news bureau, by the Wisconsin Democratic Party. In an email to Matt Kittle, Bureau Chief for WisconsinReporter.com, Graeme Zielinski, Communications Director for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, threatened to inform their activists which papers publish WisconsinReporter.com’s work so they can bombard the paper with letters to the editors and take away the news bureau credentials. The Franklin Center is the parent organization to WisconsinReporter.com.
“At the Franklin Center, we do not take threats of this nature lightly, especially when the charges made by this spokesperson are baseless and a direct threat against the First Amendment. As a news organization we have an obligation to report both sides of the story. Mr. Zielinski obviously objects to having his comments scrutinized by journalists. May I remind him that any first semester journalism student knows that both sides of the issue must be represented in any objective news article. Wisconsin Reporter and any Franklin Center affiliate news organization will not be bullied or intimidated. I stand by the work of our reporters and, specifically, the work of WisconsinReporter.com.
The Franklin Center does not hide our dedication to government transparency and accountability. We believe that it is the job of our journalists to keep elected officials honest and report how taxpayer dollars are being spent. Promoting an open and honest government is not restricted to one political ideology or another. It is an American ideal and we do not apologize if our news coverage gets to the truth of a story and shines a light on injustices and deception.
The statement issued by Mr. Zielinski was accurately reported. Just because he may disagree with a story does not mean he should be able to threaten the ability for a news organization to exist or to do its job. As such, we demand that Mr. Zielinski apologize to the news team at WisconsinReporter.com. The talented reporting staff at WisconsinReporter.com deserves better then to be harassed by a political flak.”