The relevant text from Motion 999 (Download the full motion PDF here):
Center for Investigative Journalism. Prohibit the Board of Regents from permitting the Center for Investigative Journalism to occupy any facilities owned or leased by the Board of Regents. In addition, prohibit UW employees from doing any work related to the Center for Investigative Journalism as part of their duties as a UW employee.
There are a couple of things going on here. One, the nonprofit Center doesn’t receive state funding, so it couldn’t be de-funded in reaction to lawmakers’ dismay at being investigated and occasionally called on their bullshit. This was pretty much the only way legislators could stomp on it, so they did.
Two, as to its presence on state property, the Center provides paid internships and other benefits to the university in order to earn its rent on a couple of little offices in a building that is quite possibly the least user-friendly on campus. This isn’t just some taxpayer-funded luxury giveaway to a liberal or even journalistic cause.
Three, what this does overall is interfere with the right of the university to form partnerships. It’s not just “you can’t keep your offices here.” That would still be repulsive, but this is worse. It’s “nobody’s allowed to have any contact with you, do any work even near you, or speak your name aloud.” If I’m employed by the UW, I can’t even get coffee for people there.
You start down THAT road, pretty soon you hit a dead end. The university increasingly relies on outside money from private funders as state funding shrinks, and that trend isn’t going to reverse itself anytime soon. You start outlawing private partnerships as well as legislating book-learnin’ out of existence, there will be nothing left. Which is probably what these ‘necks want.
Four, the Center’s work has been cited in the past by the same committee that’s now trying to bludgeon it out of existence. STUPID.
Five, nonprofit journalism is larval, as a model. With all the bleating that goes on about wither investigative journalism these days, and how nobody values it, and etc etc, you’d think we’d be a little less eager to whomp on something that’s still finding its feet.
Six, fuck these backwards-ass legislators and the dinosaurs they rode in on. Light ’em up:
What you can do
•Contact legislative leaders. Let them know you support the Center’s nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau: 608-266-5660, Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov
Assembly speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, 608-266-9171, Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov
•Support the Center. Send us your story tips, to email@example.com or any of our staff. Consider making a donation.
So say we all.