The business of radio broadcasting has become a largely unsustainable model; newspapers and news magazines struggle to find ways, in the digital age, to stay alive. TV news operations – local, national, over-the-airwaves, and cable – have been steadily downsized for the past five years. Local TV news operations in Wisconsin and a handful of other states which had highly contested political races in the past election cycle (Tammy vs. Tommy, etc.) got a huge infusion of cash that may have forestalled further downsizing by a year or two.
At a time when we need more investigative journalism than ever before to keep track of the vast sums of anonymous cash that fuel increasingly negative and insulting political ad campaigns, it’s disappearing. In large part, investigative journalism has been supplanted by bloggers - some more well-intentioned than others, others blatantly partisan - and well-financed sources of deliberate disinformation.
That’s why it’s so disappointing that the Midwest's largest funder of independent, non-partisan examination of politics and political spending, the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, has abruptly pulled the plug on its funding for the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign after 16 years of continued support.
This is a huge blow to the budget of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, one that’s going to be very challenging to the continued operations of our state’s premier organization, in its mission of delivering unbiased political analysis and political fundraising accountability. That’s why this blind-side from the Joyce Foundation sucks so much. Essentially every news organization in the state has relied on the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign to provide untainted information. Now, when we need this kind of information the most, with dwindling resources in every newsroom in the state, its existence is threatened.
As the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Mike McCabe, has said, “Somebody needs to follow the money in Wisconsin politics. Somebody needs to show how all that money contaminates public policymaking. Somebody needs to expose corruption, blow the whistle on wrongdoing, and fight to keep government as clean, open, and honest as possible.”
Increasingly, that job has been done by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, filling in the huge staffing gaps that exist in newsrooms in our state. Hence, the title of this post, “No Good Deed” – and, its modern suffix, “goes unpunished”.
I encourage you to join my wife and me in donating whatever you can to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. It’s as easy as logging onto their website.
I’ve never understood why so many people on the right think organizations like the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union, to name only two, are “left-leaning” organizations. They’re not. They exist to help protect the constitutional rights of every American, and to fulfill the Jeffersonian demand for a well-informed citizenry. Every citizen, regardless of political bent, should support organizations like these.
I have never, since I started this blog in 2009, asked my readers to contribute to anything.
I’m asking now.
It’s that important.