The Lakeland Mirror

Investigative journalist Hall dissects the state of democracy

Mallory Pautz, Staff Reporter

On Oct. 16, in what qualified for Lakeland students an off-campus convocation at the Mead Public Library, State Investigative Journalist Dee Hall informed the community about her view on the Wisconsin government’s current state-of-affairs. 

Hall highlighted the series “Undemocratic: Secrecy and Power vs. The People,” a collaborative report created by her University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism students through the nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. 

Presentation topics included unregulated financial contributions to government agencies and lawmakers, also known as “dark money,” redistricting concerns, and how fast-tracked bills can harm our democracy. Hall also spoke of how hyper-partisanship can harm the ability to compromise between lawmakers on both sides of the political fence, the increase of hateful incidents toward minorities and women through groups such as the Proud Boys and how Wisconsin’s dairy industry is being negatively affected by recent immigration laws. 

“We do the best we can to give credible, verifiable information,” Hall said of her team at WCIJ, citing “40 hours of fact-checking” per series. 

In addition to partisan governmental issues, WCIJ has uncovered multiple injustices in the workplace created by independent medical examiners working for large Wisconsin businesses. 

According to Hall, these businesses end up denying workers’ compensation after independent medical examiners downplay the injuries or even say the employee is “faking it.” However, WCIJ remains undeterred. “We’re serious about this stuff,” Hall said of the controversial topics covered by her organization. “We want it to be documented.” 

Others in Wisconsin do not feel the same way. In 2013, an unknown legislative entity moved to silence the WCIJ, though Governor Scott Walker ultimately vetoed the proposal in 2015. Situations like this motivate Hall and her UW-Madison team to continue their work toward their goal of informing the public. In 2017 alone, over 5 million people saw work published by the WCIJ. That number continues to grow in 2018. 

For further information on Dee Hall and the WCIJ, visit wisconsinwatch.org. 

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Investigative journalist Hall dissects the state of democracy