When it comes to reporting news, the Franklin Center’s Wisconsin Reporter likes to start with one of our most basic freedoms.
“The biggest issue,” said national writer Matt Kittle, “any news organization should cover is what so many news organizations have failed to follow: The First Amendment battle and war on political speech.”
From this understanding of the primacy of freedom, Wisconsin Reporter sets out to cover the stories that really matter.
“Readers don’t come to us for the latest gossip,” Kittle said, “We deliver investigative and analytical journalism, exposing and shining light on waste, fraud, abuse and hypocrisy in government.”
Staying on point for these principles has led the Wisconsin Reporter to remarkable successes of late.
Ryan Ekvall’s stories have prompted state lawmakers and the governor to take a second look at education policy that was otherwise rubber-stamped by the state’s superintendent of Public Instruction.
The newest member of the team, Adam Tobias, Kittle said, “has opened up municipal and state records to show taxpayers how much they are spending on questionable programs and initiatives.”
As an example, Kittle mentioned Tobias’ much talked-about piece on a “White Privilege” public education seminar that was funded, in part, by state taxpayers.
Across the state overall, Wisconsin Reporter was the first – and for a time the only – news outlet covering a politically charged John Doe investigation. The extensive 27-part series, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” details the questions and concerns surrounding a secret, Democrat-led probe into Wisconsin conservatives, which many sources see as a blatant political witch hunt launched to bring down Gov. Scott Walker and his public-sector labor union collective bargaining reforms.
Wisconsin Reporter’s stories often appear in Fox News and other local and national outlets including the Washington Times and National Review, sounding both the alarm on cases of abuse and lack of government transparency as well as a clarion call for press freedom.
On a national stage, Kittle has appeared on “On The Record” with Greta Van Susteren several times recently to report on his investigation into a Wisconsin teacher. The teacher was fired for watching and sharing pornography while at work, yet subsequently reinstated. After a number of Wisconsin Reporter stories, Gov. Walker has called for the teacher’s removal. The teacher has since apologized, but not before costing taxpayers more than $24,000. It’s the classic case of small-town abuses rightly recognized and reported on a much larger platform.
“I think when people come to our site, they know they are going to read stories that are going to affect their everyday lives,” Tobias said. “That way, they can become a better-informed voter when it comes to attending government meetings or heading to the polls.”
At the end of the day, that’s the essence of quality local news.